Research says intelligence doesn’t depend on the school a child attends.
Australian researchers have confirmed a growing body of international research that finds the high cost of private school education does not give students an academic edge over their public school counterparts.
The study, which has been published in the Australian Journal of Labour Economics, found that once the more privileged backgrounds of private school students are taken into account, they fare no better in the education system than other children.
The research from the University of Queensland, the University of Southern Queensland and Curtin University examined the vexed issue facing many parents when choosing between a public or private education for their children.
Co-author of the study, Professor Luke Connelly, said primary students do just as well academically in either system.
“We’re looking at primary school kids here, these are kids in years three and five,” he said.
“And so this is the first study of its kind for Australia that shows at this young age that there are no differences between Catholic, independent and public schools.
“There’s actually some poorer outcomes for kids at Catholic schools interestingly. That’s also been mirrored in the international literature. There are some slighter poorer outcomes.
“An exception for kids in Catholic school is that some of the behavioural issues that we also look at, including in this case peer to peer relationships, the performance seems slightly better for Catholic school kids.
“But other than that, we don’t actually see any appreciable differences in academic performance.”
Some in the independent education sector dismissed the research while others argued the research took an “overly simplistic” view.
Yvonne Luxford, executive director of the Independent Schools Council of Australia, questioned the results.
“Even the preschool testing that they did in the paper, it shows that on the raw results there, the children in independent schools did score higher,” she said.
Ron Gorman from the Association of Independent Schools of Western Australia said one survey that looked at academic merit did not go far enough.
“When looking at results, it can be an overly simplistic view of what constitutes success because the measures are actually quite narrow,” he said.