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Do private schools have better teachers?

(284 Posts)
hercules1 Sun 28-Jan-07 17:17:16

Read this on a different thread and it has peed me off a bit. I know lots of really good teachers who don't and won't teach in private schools. I've also known some teachers leave the state system to go to the private as they could no longer cope within the state.

Private doesn't equate with better teachers Of course it means lots of other things and I am sure there are lots of excellent teachers in the private system but no more so than the state.

Lilymaid Sun 28-Jan-07 17:27:48

Private schools usually pay a bit more and have shorter terms so probably get a good range of teachers applying for jobs and can manage to get good teachers in shortage subject areas. State schools have the complete range of teachers from excellent to dire. Teachers are often attracted to work in areas where housing is cheaper (so London is out!)which may impact more on the state than the private sector. My DSs have experienced excellent teachers in both state and independent schools.

NotAnOtter Sun 28-Jan-07 17:30:26

tosh tosh tosh

they pay less around here plus you dont even have to be qualified

Birthdaybeetroot Sun 28-Jan-07 17:32:05

god no - just better paid andlongert holidays

hercules1 Sun 28-Jan-07 17:33:47

I don't know Lilymaid. Most of the teachers I have known both in state and special school would not work in a private school on principle. Of course some state teachers are dire. I earn more where I am than if I worked in some private schools so pay is afaik not always so different.

hercules1 Sun 28-Jan-07 17:35:29

also I know that some private schools want to you to work Saturdays

A teacher at my current school used to work in a very posh school and hated it due to the snobbery of the parents. Mind you, he's not the best teacher I've met.

Hulababy Sun 28-Jan-07 17:38:35

I don't think it does. There are good and bad teachers in both sectors equally I would think. Makes sense that there are - it's like any industry surely?

Often private schools pay less than the state sector too, not more. They do get longer holidays though.

I think both state and private school sector teachers have their own challenges to face. Doesn't mean one is easier than the other though.

pooka Sun 28-Jan-07 17:42:08

Funnily enough, I was talking to my mother about this recently. She used to be a teacher in a state secondary but we were particularly talking about pirmary teachers (long story - PIL desperate for dd to start at private school. I want her to go the lovely local primary).
What my mother said was that generally if you go into teacher training your aim in your career is not to go into the private sector, because if you want to be a career teacher there are greater opportunities for career advancement and diversification in the state sector.
Obviously she is biased, but I have to say that I admire the teachers able to work effectively with larger class sizes and without selection at 4 and a half more than those who have chosen to teach a class of 20 all of whom have been cherry-picked as having greater achievement potential.

nooka Sun 28-Jan-07 17:42:41

I don't think you should make any assumptions really. Failing schools or ones with poor reputations in difficult areas may find it more difficult to attract staff, but then the people they get may be more committed. High achieving schools will find it easier to attract new teachers because of their reputation. I would say that would go for both private and state (quite possible to have failing private schools, its just that after a while they go out of business). One thing I would watch out for is that sometimes private schools go for teachers who have no training because a)they can, and b) sometimes it looks good on the prospectus to say that you have x from y, where y is an academic or research institute. This does not translate to x being a good teacher necessarily. When I was in sixth form we had a teacher who had just finished at the CERN research station and he just could not keep discipline at all (I assume that as it was a selective private school no one thought to forewarn him that not all children think of labs as places to learn - many think of them as places to do dangerous experiments/read comics and generally mess about). I did not do well at physics as a result!

LIZS Sun 28-Jan-07 17:42:47

Would never presume that a private teacher was better than a state one. However I do think that there may be more opportunities for a private school teacher to teach their specialist subject more widely to younger children than in the state sector and that could be of benefit.

Hulababy Sun 28-Jan-07 17:45:07

Lizs - agree witht he statement yes. Certainly in DD's school they seem to have speciailist teachers for certain subject areas much more so than some of her friend's schools do. Think that must be of benefit.

teachersmummy Sun 28-Jan-07 17:51:38

Of course state teachers are far better - they have to teach a wider ability range, wider social range, wider range of languages spoken at home and wider ranges of behaviour and more children per class. State classes cannot remove a child for not being up to scratch like it is in some private schools (assuming they have let them be there in the first place)

Hulababy Sun 28-Jan-07 17:53:52

teachersmummy - that is an impossible comment to make. How can you ever guarantee that all state school teachers are better? That is simply NOT true!

Blandmum Sun 28-Jan-07 17:54:10

I keep typing this. You don't have to be qualified in the state secor either. I worked while unqualified in a state comp.

It isn't common to be unqualified long term in either the state or private schools.

My two are in a private school and AFAICR all their kids are fully qualified.

I love the state school I work in, love the kids, love the staff. The only school I would move to is the one my kids are in because it is excellent and has a wonderful ethos.

Good and bad in both state and private in my experience.

beckybrastraps Sun 28-Jan-07 17:54:44

Just because they have those challenges in their classroom doesn't mean they're better adapted to deal with it!

Mixed bag in both sectors I reckon.

Blandmum Sun 28-Jan-07 17:55:16

Cobbles to all state school working with a wider range of 'home' languages. The state school I work in is far less ethnically diverse than the private school my kids attend. Gross oversimplification.

teachersmummy Sun 28-Jan-07 17:55:28

I am talking of a normal distribution there is bound to be some overlap

beckybrastraps Sun 28-Jan-07 17:56:29


elastamum Sun 28-Jan-07 17:56:45

Private schools dont necessarily have better teachers but they do have and use more specialist teachers i.e maths drama music PE french from primary. They also have smaller classes and longer holidays and whilst the parents can be more demanding, (watch out for the uber mums!),the parents tend to make sure homework gets done and support standards of behaviour set by the school. Also in the case of my sons school they have very low staff turnover and enough teachers to go round so they dont use supply teachers for cover who dont know the curriculum. All our teachers are qualified, but this isnt always the case

Hulababy Sun 28-Jan-07 17:57:12

I simply do not agree. I worked in the state sector long enough to know that there are plenty of state school teachers who are not as good as many private school teachers. Similarly, I know of others in the private sector who know of good and bad teachers.

There is a good mix of both sides of the spectrum, and many more in between, in both sectors.

Blandmum Sun 28-Jan-07 17:58:28

Teaching 'difficult' classes is not the only mark of a good teacher. I teach some tough ones, but I also teach 50% of my timetable to the sixthform. That brings its own challenges. Am I only half as good as collegues who teach mostly lower school classes?

DominiConnor Sun 28-Jan-07 18:02:56

Teachersmummy raises a valid point. To say "better" requires that you can compare on an equal basis, and as she says it is on average tougher in state schools.
Private schools are mostly far more selective, and DS's school check behaviour of kids one by one, before deigning to let them in.
So they have fewer tough cases to deal with.

Thus in my opinion a good % of what you're paying for is better classmates. Certainly we wanted an environment where DS wasn't quite so obviously smarter than the others.

Thus to simplify outraqgeously, a private school teacher polish whereas a state teacher often needs to be sandpaper knocking off coners.

I interview smart people for a living, and I must say that on average the private teachers are smarter than the state ones I've met.

But that really isn't the same as "better".

Also a greater (but still low) % have had a "real" job. I think kids need this as part of the mix
I've been careful to say "on average" here since the two distributions overlap considerably.

Soapbox Sun 28-Jan-07 18:03:24

I agree with MB, I don't think the sector dictates how good or bad the teachers are, however I think that the standing of the school within which ever sector may do.

Good schools, in all probability will attract the best teachers, although not always. I have a friend who teaches in a school in special measures because it is where her extensive and excellent teaching skills can be put to best use there

The one observation I would make though, is that private school do seem to have many, many more male teachers.

The other advantange of teaching in a private school, is that often there will be a sizeable discount on the school fees for any of the teacher's own children who they may wish to attend that school.

Lilymaid Sun 28-Jan-07 18:11:25

I have only got experience of one independent school which does pay more than the state rate in order to attract and retain good teachers and virtually all the teachers have PGCEs. The majority of the teachers there were very good (but they were teaching clever pupils so they didn't have to deal with a wide ability range)but a few weren't.

Sobernow Sun 28-Jan-07 18:14:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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