The Benefits of a Private School Go Beyond Small Class Sizes
Small class sizes are generally touted as the primary differentiator between private and public schools, but there’s so much more that sets them apart. Let’s take a broader look at four of the key differentiators that private schools have to offer.
Private schools are not run on tax dollars. This gives them more freedom in general governance and in designing a curriculum that best suits the needs of their students. Parents are encouraged to be involved in both settings.
Public schools, on the other hand, tend to focus on core subjects—often at the expense of extracurriculars—to keep up with mandated testing and constant budget changes. They might also have to contend with more bureaucracy, which leads to less innovation in the offered curriculum and decreased parental influence.
Private schools tend to be more agile and able to respond to challenges faster and better. This stems not only from the freedom in governance but also because private schools, being smaller, can maneuver more quickly.
The most recent case in point is the COVID-19 pandemic and how different schools responded. Most private schools started conducting virtual classes within a few weeks, while some public schools took months and are still unsure about the way ahead.
At Westminster, we were up and running in a week. Now, with the ease in restrictions, we have made the decision to open five days a week for in-person classes this fall, with safety measures in place.
“Private schools have spent the entire summer preparing so they can open safely with all the restrictions in place, whereas a big public school just can’t do that,” says Nancy Schuler, admissions director at Westminster. “I’m sure they would like nothing more than to welcome their students back in person. However, with the number of students in a particular building, it would be a great challenge to meet the recommended safety measures.”
3. Social and Emotional Growth
Better teacher-to-student ratios in private schools result in more individualized attention. Students are encouraged to be social and assertive and to participate in multiple extracurricular activities. Most private schools focus on educating children holistically, not just academically. This includes emphasizing their social, emotional, and physical growth to ensure better long-term outcomes for graduates. On the whole, students receive positive support on many fronts from teachers and peers.
Larger student numbers in public schools make it more difficult to supervise students effectively and to give those students the attention and academic support they need.
4. Academic Advantages
According to Michael Zwaagstra, co-author of the book What’s Wrong with Our Schools: And How We Can Fix Them, many private schools meet or exceed provincial education standards. Several studies have shown that private school students outperform their public school peers on test scores across the board.
What school you send your child to is one of the biggest decisions you will make to shape his or her future. Schools, whether public or private, are doing their best to educate our children and to help them reach their potential. Private schools are in a better position to meet individual needs due to their size and independence.
To schedule a virtual tour of our Westminster campus and to learn what sets our school apart, please click here.