21+ Private School vs Public School Statistics for 2024

Public and private schools around the world are just as different from each other as the systems they operate under. 

Here’s the deal:

In Germany, private education comes with more regulations and some state funding, hence lower fees. But in Britain, private education is almost entirely exclusive to the richest layer of society. 

And in the US and France, private schools are most often a part of the Catholic Church education system.

The thing is:

Private school vs public school statistics show that, in some parts of the world, private education is nothing but a minor convenience and the option of having the freedom to choose your curriculum. 

In contrast: 

In others, private education is a way to perpetuate systemic privilege.

Let’s delve deep into the latest stats Mark in Style came across and find out more.

Fascinating Private School Statistics vs Public (Editor’s Choice)

  • There were 5.8 million students in private schools in the US in 2015. 
  • Enrolment in US public schools is expected to rise by 2% until 2028.
  • Private school students score 3.1 points higher on ACT tests on average.
  • Private schools are smaller than public schools, with an average of 166 students per school.
  • 79% of private school students in the US attend a religious school.
  • Annual fees of historic boarding schools in the UK average around £40,000
  • 55% of privately educated students in the UK are working at managerial or executive positions.

Private Schools vs Public Schools Statistics in the US

Private school vs public school statistics

1. Enrolment in US public schools is expected to rise by 2% until 2028.


In 2000, 46.6 million students were enrolled in classic public elementary and secondary schools. That number increased to 47.9 million pupils in 2005, then dropped to 47.3 million students in 2016

Public schooling statistics show that the growth rate by the year 2028 is expected to be 2%, bringing the number of students to 57.4 million.

That being said:

The percentage is not changing dramatically over time, as enrolment in 2016 was just 1% higher than in 2000. Elementary schools saw a 1% rise, secondary schools 2%. Combined schools became more popular, as elementary-secondary school enrolment grew by 17%.

That means there were 30.6 million students in elementary schools, 15.3 million in secondary schools, and 1.3 million in combined schools in the US.

2. There were 5.8 million students in private schools in the US in 2015. 

(NCES, Capenet)

You might be wondering:

How many private schools are there in the US

Here’s your answer:

[bctt tweet=”There are 34,576 private schools in the United States.” via=”no”]

Looking at private schools from pre-kindergarten to grade 12, we can see a decrease of 0.3%  from fall 1999 to 2015, as the number of students went down from 6 million to 5.8 million

Private school statistics show the numbers for pre-kindergarten to grade 8 looks similar, showing a decrease from 4.8 million to 4.3 million, with the enrolment rate lowered by 10%.

Private schools versus public schools statistics show the only segment seeing growth in the private sector was grades 9 through 12, where the number of students went from 1.2 million to 1.4 million, rising by 18% from 1999 to 2015.

3. On average, private school students score 3.1 points higher on ACT tests.

(NCES, Fatherly)

Private schools vs public schools test scores show a disparity of 3.1 points on average in favour of private schools, which is why some think private school is better than public school.

What’s more:

The situation is the same for high schools as well as for primary and middle schools. Maths scores comparison revealed a remarkable 18 point difference when it comes to grade 8 and an 8 point difference in grade 4.

Reading scores were 18 points higher in private schools in 8th grade and 15 points higher in 4th grade. 

Private school graduation rates are extremely high. In fact, NCES reports a 98% graduation rate for those attending private schools, with 54% of those students going on to four-year colleges according to higher education statistics.

4. Private schools are smaller than public schools, with an average of 166 students per school.


Public school vs private school statistics show public schools in 2015 had 526 pupils on average, while that number for private schools was significantly lower, standing at 166

When we look at the student-teacher ratio for public schools, it was 16.2 for public schools and 11.9 when it comes to private ones.

5. Location matters even in public vs private, as private schools have higher enrolment rates in cities and suburbs and public ones in rural areas and towns.


Around 43% of all students in private schools live in cities, and 40% live in the suburbs. Additionally, only 6% of those attending private schools live in towns, and 11% live in rural areas.

Public elementary schools have lower enrolment rates in cities (30%). The figure for those living in towns and attending public schools stood at 11%, and it was 19% for those in rural areas. 

6. Almost 70% of all private school students are white.


Looking at race and ethnicity, private school vs public school data looks like this: 

Among private school kids,  69% of all students are white, 10% Hispanic, 9% black, and 6% Asian. Students of Pacific Islander origin take up only 1%, and American Indian or Alaska Native ones even less (0.5%). Additionally, about 4% of students in private schools are mixed-race.

In contrast:

7. Only 50% of public school students are white. 


[bctt tweet=”While white students are still a majority, public schools are far more diverse than private ones.” via=”no”]

Here’s the scoop:

26% are Hispanic, 15% Black, and 5% Asian. The Pacific Islander group was represented by less than 0.5%, while Native American/Alaskan Native students took up 1% in public schools. Around 3% of students report being of mixed heritage.

What’s more:

Looking at public charter schools, 33% of students were White, 32% Hispanic, 27% Black, 4% Asian, 1% American Indian/Alaska Native, and less than 0.5% Pacific Islander. Same as with the rest of public schools 3% of students were mixed-race.

8. Up to 81% of private school students live in a two-parent household, private school vs public school statistics reveal.


According to data from 2016, the percentage of students living in a two-parent household was 81% for private schools, grades 1 through 12, and 65% for public schools. The figure for assigned public schools stood at 75%. In contrast, only 2% of students lived with non-parental guardians.

The number of students in a one-parent household was 31% in public schools, 25% in assigned public schools, and 18% in private schools.

Finally, the percentage of students in public schools that live with non-parental guardians is 4% or less.

9. Only 5% of parents who send their children to private school did not graduate themselves.


Around 12% of those attending public schools had parents who did not finish high school, and 11% of assigned public schools had students with parents who did not graduate. Compared to that, only 5% of parents sending their children to private school did not graduate themselves.

Moreover, only 16% of students in public schools had parents who completed a graduate or professional degree, while in assigned public schools that number was 15%. The percentage of parents to have a graduate or a professional degree in private schools was 32%.

10. 79% of private school students attend a religious school.


Catholic school vs public school statistics reveal that enrolment in Catholic schools, the largest type of religious school institution in the US, stood at 1.9 million students. Overall, nearly eight in ten private school students attend one form of a religiously affiliated school or another.

We’ve observed a slight rise over the last years, and the National Catholic Educational Association reports that 18.4% of all enrolled students in their schools are not Catholic.

11. Around 8% of low-income household students attend private schools.


When it comes to income, the number of poor students in chosen public schools is 19%, 18% in assigned public schools, and 8% in private schools.

Those living in near-poverty conditions mostly go to chosen public schools, while 21% attend an assigned public school. This number is lower in private schools (13%).

In comparison, in non-poverty households, the percentage is 56% for chosen public schools, 61% for assigned public schools, and 79% for private schools.

12. Attending a private school in the United States costs $10,740 a year on average.


The difference in the cost of private school vs public school in the US is anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000.


While public schools are free except for some fees, private schools cost on average $10,740 a year, with the cost ranging from $5,330 to $25,180.

Catholic schools have lower tuition, at an average of $689, while non-sectarian schools average at $21,510 per student per year.

13. 16% of new teachers choose private schools for their first job.


One of the notable public school facts is that public schools offer better benefits and a higher salary. So, it should come as no surprise that more experienced teachers tend to gravitate towards the public vs private education institutions and transfer away from the private sector as soon as they get the chance.

What’s more:

Given the significantly lower student-to-teacher ratio we discussed above, instructors experience a lot less teacher stress in private schools as well.

However, public school teachers are more involved in professional development programmes. Up to 48% of them have a Master’s degree, compared to only 36% of private school teachers.

Public Schools vs Private Schools in the UK

UK school building

14. About 6% of all children in Britain attend private schools.

(The Guardian)

Children of families of every income level attend private schools. But the number is highest in the families earning over £300,000 – six in ten.

And that’s not all:

[bctt tweet=”Up to 38% of former private school students later live in London or the south-east.” via=”no”]

The corresponding percentage for those who went to state schools is 27%, showing the continuous trend of privately schooled people migrating to the south-east of England. 

15. The annual fees of historic boarding schools in Britain average around £40,000. 

(The Guardian, Simply Learning)

Old historic boarding schools have fees of around £40,000. For instance, the basic price for Eton was £40,668 in the 2018/19 school year, with Harrow and Winchester following closely at £40,050 and £39,912, respectively.

The prices up north are similar. For Gordonstoun in Scotland, it’s £38,250, and for Malvern College in Worcestershire, the fee is £39,555 a year. 

Without the cost of boarding, prep schools had a yearly fee from £13,026, a figure that rose significantly for secondary school and six forms.

Comparing the prices, it is almost 50% cheaper to choose a London day school than a boarding school in another region. For instance, fees at Ibstock are £21,735 a year, £20,688 at Harrodian, and £21,600 at Francis Holland.

16. 74% of judges in the UK are privately educated. 

(The Guardian)

One of the private school facts that stand out looking at private education in Britain is the continued effect it has on social mobility. 

The thing is:

Private school education tends to perpetuate generational privilege that all but guarantees future wealth and influence. 

For instance, as many as 74% of judges and 32% of MPs are privately educated.

When we observe the chances education gives you through the subject of private schools vs public schools education, attending historic elite schools gives students a mind-blowing 94% chance of becoming a part of the British elite.

Those attending HMC schools are reported to have 35 times the chance to make it to the top of the Who’s Who list, whereas the percentage of those that were privately educated is around 45%.

17. Private school students have 32% more A*s than state students.

(The Guardian)

Looking at private vs public high schools test scores in 2018, the number of private school students with A*s at A levels was 48%. In comparison, the figure for state students stood at 26%. Looking at GCSEs, the figures for grades A or 7 and above were 63% for private and 23% for state schools.

What this also means is:

Students in state schools have to deal with considerably more exam stress.

18. The gap in earnings between privately and state-educated has grown by 14% from the 1990s to 2000s, private school vs public school statistics confirm.

(BSA, The Guardian)

When it comes to income, up to 22% of private school students will go on to be in the top 10% highest earners.

When looking at employees in their 30s with the same characteristics and parameters, the only difference being the school they have attended at 11, those who were privately educated earned 7% more than the state-educated during the 1990s

By the 2000s, the gap had widened significantly, with privately educated individuals earning 21% more than their state-educated counterparts.

What’s more:

Up to 55% of privately educated are working at managerial or executive positions, while these types of professional positions are filled with only 29% of former state-educated students.

19. Up to 40% of Oxbridge offers go to privately educated students.

(BSA, The Guardian)

The benefits of private school access in Britain are clear and undeniable:

University admissions statistics and acceptance rates show Oxford has made 43% of offers to privately educated candidates, while the corresponding number for Cambridge is 37% for the period between 2010 and 2015. Top schools open the doors to top universities and further advancement through the hierarchy system that shows no signs of opening up to other groups.

Check this out:

Statistics show 30% of the privately educated go on to earn a degree, while that is the case for only 12% of state school students.

20. 43% of those who have attended private school send their children to private school.


Parents who come from private education are five times as likely to send their children to a fee-paying school as well. In contrast, only 9% of state-educated will choose that option.

Perhaps unexpectedly, public or private school access might determine who you’ll marry to a certain extent. Up to 41% of those educated in private schools will choose a life partner who is also privately educated, while the number of those married to a privately educated person among the state-educated is only 6%.

21. 1 in every 16 students in England attends a private school.


Looking at the education workforce, one in seven teachers work at a private school. Additionally, one-sixth of education expenditure goes to the private sector, as only 1 in 16 students in England attend fee-paying schools. 


Private schools vs public schools research data shows there is no significant difference in the percentage of men and women attending private school. Ethnicity is also of little significance.

22. 51% of privately educated vote Conservative, compared to 29% to those state schooled.


Did you know that deciding how to vote is heavily affected by whether you’ve attended a private school or public school?

The thing is:

There is a whopping 22% gap between state-educated individuals and those attending private schools when it comes to voting for the Tories, polls show.

Support for Labour is expectedly lower among those who attended private schools (20%), with 19% of their votes going to the Liberal Democrats.

Among the undecided and apolitical, the public vs private school difference is still there. 

And in case you were wondering:

People who had attended state schools are more likely to report being without political affiliation (18%), while those who went to private schools will not have a preferred party in only 10% of cases. 

People Also Ask

Do private schools perform better than public schools?

The test results of those attending private schools are generally higher. So, are private schools better on paper? Indeed they are. 

On the other hand, that does not necessarily mean private schools are better at educating and the outcome of learning itself, especially when it comes to the United States. The answer to this question varies from country to country. 

In general, the differences in knowledge can be slight and individual, but the future prospects sadly aren’t.

Does a private school really make a difference?

The percentage of those graduating from private schools is significantly higher. Moreover, a far bigger number of those students go on to college and university compared to those in public schools. In most cases, it is the family and generational wealth and status that ultimately make a difference. However, that’s best seen through individual student outcomes. 

Why are public schools better than private schools?

Private school statistics vs public show public schools in the US are the preferred workplace of more experienced and better teachers due to the difference in benefits and salary. Students’ test scores are also higher, as they benefit from greater teacher attention thanks to smaller student-to-teacher ratios.

On the other hand, many find a better sense of community in public schools. They are better locally connected, even across generations. Furthermore, they offer parents a sense of security in terms of the cost of education and stability.

What are the advantages of private schools over public schools?

[bctt tweet=”The advantages of private schools over public schools often stem from the greater attention students receive.” via=”no”]

Class sizes are significantly smaller than in state schools, which makes both teaching and learning easier. Extracurricular activities are tailored to students’ needs with more precision and individualism aiming to build confidence.

What’s more: 

Private school vs public school statistics tell us private schools aim to have higher scores and are ready to offer many means of getting a student to where they need to be by monitoring their special needs, diagnosing problems, and providing individual guidance through exams and college application processes. The substantial fees guarantee that the amount of resources deployed per child in the private schools of the UK is three times that of state schools.

Also, choosing a specific peer group is one of the advantages that the state schools don’t offer.

In the US, private schools offer a curriculum that is focused in a different way than that in state schools. So, for example, if your child is art-driven, many state schools will hinder that, as their core classes  curriculum tends to focus on the mandatory testing subjects.

In Conclusion

One thing becomes clear when you compare the private and state education systems around the world: 

For some, privately education is just a convenience. For others, it’s a more or less guaranteed way of propelling one’s child to a social sphere of one’s choosing, provided they can afford it. 

Here’s the thing:

Private education institutions in the US do not necessarily offer huge advantages. And in many cases, state schools are just as good or sometimes a better choice. 

In contrast, private education in the UK is an investment that carries a whole different meaning and comes with status-determining consequences and benefits, private school vs public school statistics confirm.

Wilma Harte, a senior civil servant in UK Department of Education in the 1960s, summed it up nicely when she said that the politicians couldn’t decide if the private schools in England are:

so bloody they ought to be abolished, or so marvellous they ought to be made available to everyone.

Over half a century later, the dilemma remains. What is to be done?







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