Comparing Costs and Benefits of Private vs. State Schooling

The decision between private and state schooling is a significant one for many families across the United Kingdom. It often involves considerable economic considerations, not just in terms of immediate costs but also concerning long-term benefits. This analysis aims to dissect the economic aspects of education in the UK, comparing tuition costs, average spending per pupil, and the return on investment through career outcomes and earnings associated with both private and state schooling systems.

Cost of Education: Private vs. State Schooling

In the UK, the funding and resource allocation between private and state schools are markedly distinct. Private schools, also known as independent schools, charge fees directly to parents, while state schools are funded through taxation and are free at the point of use for families. According to the document “Private Schools and Inequality” by Francis Green, the average fees in 2020 for day students at private schools were approximately £15,800 per annum, while boarding fees could rise to around £35,300 per annum. In contrast, the average spending per pupil in state schools was much lower at about £6,125 per annum, most of which was provided by the schools themselves with additional services funded by local authorities (Green, 2022).

These figures highlight a stark disparity in direct financial investment per pupil, with private schooling costing significantly more than state schooling. This investment translates into various educational advantages such as smaller class sizes, better facilities, and broader extracurricular opportunities, which are often cited as reasons for the higher fees charged by private institutions.

Return on Investment: Academic and Career Outcomes

The return on investment (ROI) from education can be measured in terms of academic performance, subsequent career outcomes, and earnings. Private schools often tout superior academic results, which are supported by their students’ overrepresentation at top universities and in high-status occupations. Green’s analysis indicates that private school pupils are more likely to attend prestigious universities such as Oxford and Cambridge and are more present in influential positions within society.

In terms of career outcomes, the document states that private schooling can result in a higher likelihood of attaining work in professional or managerial positions. Specifically, private schooling in England at age 13 is associated with a 12 percentage point greater probability of working in a high-status occupation by age 25 compared with state school counterparts from a similar social background (Green, 2022). Furthermore, the earnings premium associated with private education is notable; at age 25, the premium was reported to be 17%, and this difference increases with age, reaching 35% for men by age 42.

Wage Premium and Long-term Benefits

The wage premium from private schooling persists even after accounting for various personal, familial, and educational achievements, which suggests that private schools impart a lasting advantage to their alumni. This advantage is partially attributed to the quality of education and the social networks formed at these institutions, which can be instrumental in securing higher-paying roles in competitive sectors.

It is also important to consider non-wage benefits, such as greater control over one’s career trajectory and potentially more fulfilling job roles, which are harder to quantify but are significant in understanding the full return on investment from private schooling.

Economic Implications for Families and Policy

For families, the decision to opt for private education involves weighing these potential long-term benefits against the immediate and substantial financial costs. This calculation often means that private schooling remains predominantly accessible to wealthier families, reinforcing socio-economic divisions within society.

From a policy perspective, addressing this inequity is challenging. Measures such as increasing financial aid, scholarships, or bursaries could help broaden access to private schools. Alternatively, enhancing state schooling resources and quality could reduce the perceived and real advantages of private over state schools, promoting a more equitable educational landscape.

Cambridge Home School – Affordable Private Education

In the realm of private education, Cambridge Home School Online represents an accessible and innovative option for families seeking a British curriculum from anywhere in the world. Catering to a diverse student body, Cambridge Home School Online offers comprehensive homeschooling programs across various educational stages including Primary Prep (ages 8 to 10), Lower School (ages 11 to 13), IGCSEs (ages 14 to 16), and AS & A-Levels (ages 17 to 19).

The school boasts remarkable academic achievements: in June 2021, 86% of its IGCSE students secured A*s and As in their target subjects, exemplifying the school’s commitment to high academic standards. Furthermore, 83% of A-Level students achieved at least two As and a B, meeting the entry requirements of top universities. Impressively, all students who applied to universities received offers from some of the best institutions globally, underscoring the effectiveness of Cambridge Home School’s approach to education.

One of the key advantages of Cambridge Home School Online is its affordability compared to traditional private schools. The annual fee for all educational levels, including the Primary Prep School, is set at £9,000 GBP. This fee translates to approximately $12,400 USD, making it a financially viable option for international students from various economic backgrounds. These fees are considerably lower than those of many private schools offering face-to-face education, which can enhance accessibility for families seeking quality education without the prohibitive costs often associated with private schooling.

By leveraging modern technology and a diversified curriculum, Cambridge Home School Online continues to raise the bar, helping students not only meet but exceed their learning and performance goals. This model of education not only supports academic excellence but also offers a flexible and inclusive alternative to traditional schooling, making high-quality education more accessible to a broader audience.


The economic analysis of private versus state schooling in the UK reveals significant disparities in costs and benefits. While private schools offer potential advantages in terms of educational and career outcomes, they also necessitate a high financial outlay that is unfeasible for many families. The challenge for policymakers remains to mitigate these inequalities and ensure that high-quality education is accessible to all students, irrespective of their economic background.

This exploration is based on insights from the document “Private Schools and Inequality” authored by Francis Green, which provides an in-depth look at the nuances of educational inequality in the UK and serves as the primary source for the data presented here. Through such scholarly work, we can better understand the complex dynamics at play and work towards a more inclusive educational system.


What are the main differences in funding between private and state schools in the UK?

Private schools in the UK, often called independent schools, primarily receive their funding directly from parental fees. In contrast, state schools are funded through taxation and provide free education to students. The stark contrast in funding sources leads to significant differences in resources available per pupil between these two types of institutions.

How much more does private schooling cost compared to state schooling?

Private schooling typically incurs significantly higher costs than state schooling. For example, in 2020, the average annual fee for day students at private schools was around £15,800, while boarding fees could reach approximately £35,300. In comparison, the average annual expenditure per state school pupil was about £6,125, covered mostly by the government.

What advantages do private schools offer over state schools?

Private schools often provide several educational advantages due to their higher funding levels. These include smaller class sizes, better facilities, and more extensive extracurricular opportunities. These benefits contribute to the higher fees charged by private schools and are cited as reasons for the superior academic performance often noted among their students.

How does private schooling affect career outcomes and earnings?

Attending a private school can significantly impact career prospects and earnings. Studies show that individuals educated at private schools in England are more likely to secure high-status jobs and attend prestigious universities. For instance, by age 25, private school alumni experience an earnings premium of 17%, which increases with age, demonstrating a substantial long-term financial return on investment in private education.

What are the long-term non-wage benefits of private schooling?

Besides financial gains, private schooling can offer long-term non-wage benefits that are less tangible but equally important. These benefits include greater control over one’s career trajectory and access to fulfilling roles that may not be as readily available to state-educated peers. The quality of education and the networking opportunities provided at private schools play crucial roles in these advantages.

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