Public and Private Schools

How Management and Funding Relate to their Socio-economic Profile

image of Public and Private Schools

In most PISA-participating countries and economies, the average socio-economic background of students who attend privately managed schools is more advantaged than that of those who attend public schools. Yet in some countries, there is little difference in the socio-economic profiles between public and private schools. Why? An analysis of PISA results finds that while the prevalence of privately managed schools in a country is not related to socio-economic stratification within a school system, the level of public funding to privately managed schools is: the higher the proportion of public funding allocated to privately managed schools, the smaller the socio-economic divide between publicly and privately managed schools. This report also shows that those countries with narrow socio-economic stratification in their education systems not only maximise equity and social cohesion, but also perform well in the PISA survey.




The great public benefits of education have historically prompted governments to assume the primary role in managing and funding schools. Recently, a growing interest in improving school quality and student outcomes, and a quest for greater school choice for parents and students, and for more creativity and innovation in the schools, themselves, have challenged the notion of government’s primacy in education (OECD, 2006; Brewer and Hentschke, 2009). This trend, emerging in a number of countries, is based on the belief that the public interest in education can be better served by also involving private entities, including parents, non-governmental organisations and enterprises, in addition to government agencies, in managing and funding schools.


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