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Independent schools: What does the public think?

Daniel Lilley and Ellen Pasternack, February 2024

In this interim report by the Commission on the Future for Independent Schools (Civitas), researchers commissioned the polling agency Deltapoll to survey a sample of British adults to ask their views on a range of issues related to private schooling. Deltapoll surveyed a nationally representative sample of 2,176 respondents from 19-22 January 2024.

Its key findings include:
  • Seventy-two per cent of respondents think that it is right for parents to use their money to give their children the best possible start in life, including by sending them to private schools. This is over seven times as many as the 10 per cent of adults who think that it is ‘wrong’.
  • Respondents were much more likely to oppose the abolition of private schools than support it. Just 15 per cent of adults agreed that private schools should be abolished, whilst 52 per cent disagreed.
  • Half (50 per cent) of respondents agreed that the standard of teaching in private schools is higher than in most other schools, whilst just 16 per cent disagreed.
  • Nearly two thirds (63 per cent) of respondents agreed that the range of extracurricular activities offered in private schools is better than in most other schools, whilst seven per cent disagreed.
  • Sixty-two per cent of respondents agreed that private schools are better at getting students into good universities than most other schools, with just 10 per cent disagreeing.
  • Thirty-one per cent of respondents consider the biggest divide in education across England to be between children who receive a high level of support from their parents compared to those who receive a low level of support from their parents. A quarter (26 per cent) think that the biggest divide is between schools in more well-off and less well-off areas and just 19 per cent think it is between private schools and state schools.
  • ‘Giving their children the highest possible standard of education’ was viewed as an important reason for parents to send their children to private school among 81 per cent of respondents.
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