Are people who send their kids to private schools snobs?

I must have read half a dozen articles in the past week about how it’s WRONG to send your children to private school.

Apparently sending your kids to private school means you’re a snob. You’re putting unreasonable pressure on kids to achieve academically, at the expense of them being nice people who can get along with anyone. Oh, and if you like the fact that private schools are strict and focus on manners, you’re just abdicating your parental responsibilities. Seriously?

Imagine the reverse of that argument.

In sending your kids to state school you’re telling your kids education doesn’t matter. You’re being a chav and teaching your kids not to get along with affluent people. You’re not teaching them manners and you’re taking complete responsibility for teaching kids that stuff – because the school won’t.

Silly, isn’t it? It’s just one parent saying to another parent, “The way I raise my children is BETTER than the way you raise your children.” 

I chose to send my daughter to private school. Like most choices I make about my child, I made it based on my own (limited) knowledge and intuition, and with her best interests at heart.

I don’t think I’m someone who’d often be accused of being snooty.

And if you’re one of those people who think people like me send kids to private school because we want them to go to Oxbridge and become Rulers of the Free World, I’m about to disappoint you.

Yes, I want Flea to do well enough at school that she can make choices in later life based on her interests and not be limited by poor exam results – but that’s all. If she chooses not to go to uni – well, I can see a lot of upsides to that, frankly.

So why did we decide to educate Flea privately? Lots of reasons, as it happens.

Our state primary insists children attend full-time, from day one. The private school lets reception kids take half days and days off if they’re tired.

Our state primary has an intake of 35 reception kids and a year 1 class of 30 – sharing a classroom. The private school has reception classes of 12, with a teacher and a nursery teacher in each class.

Our state primary does tests. The private school doesn’t.

Our state school is a faith school. The private school isn’t.

Our state primary is in a small, almost exclusively white town. The private school draws students from all over the world.

Our state primary has to follow the national curriculum. The private school doesn’t.

Our state primary’s day finishes at 3.30pm. Flea’s school can care for children from 8am and until 6pm, if needed.


That said, no matter what my reasons might be – why should I have to offer them up as justification?

It’s so easy to judge other parents. To accuse them of being less than us. But I suspect those people are really just battling their own insecurity – if you’re not sure you’ve done the right thing, the easiest thing in the world is to put down the people who approach life differently, isn’t it?


99 thoughts on “Are people who send their kids to private schools snobs?”

  1. My year7 daughter goes to an Indy on a massively assisted place – we honestly could not afford it otherwise – but it’s perfect for her. She’s just like flea – bright, well behaved, wants to get on – and my experience of state school told me that it was certainly worth trying private while we had the chance. It’s an amazing place. Yes sometimes it seems like another planet but she’s thriving. The children are polite and considerate, genuinely lovely children. I could not ever criticise anyone for wanting this for their child. In my opinion every child should have this opportunity but it’s not possible and actually far too many children (and parents let’s be fair) would waste it. But let’s not take anything away from those who choose it and are willing to put their money where their mouth is.

  2. Martha De Monclin

    Great post Sally. We have just sent my son to private school in the UK. It was never the plan – one of the reasons we moved to France was to avoid school fees! But with 36 to a class here and a negative environment, we were fed up of seeing our son lose his confidence and self esteem and decided to find a caring environment with small class sizes. Although he didn’t want to board, he has actually been fine since the beginning of term and seems happier than he was (it is only the beginning so long may it last!). My daughter thrives on the negativity so will stay here in France. Each child is different and needs different things and as parents we just try to do our best.

  3. I work with a lot of independent schools, mainly as a consultant, and I have to say that the demographic on independent schools, post COVID-19 is changing and will continue to change dramtaically. Many independent schools have been much quicker on the technology uptake, allowing home schooling to continue. I don’t think that this is about insecurities as you’ve said before, but a mix of adaptability and availability for those parents who can sacrafice many things to deliver this.

    A tough call for any family.

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