public school


Nalgonda Public School, a private school in Nalgonda, India


From public (in the English sense, "open to all members of a community"; in the North American/Australian sense, "carried out or funded by the state on behalf of the people") + school.

Alternative formsEdit


public school (plural public schools)

  1. (UK, England) A fee-charging private or independent school.
    • 1937, George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier, 1997, Peter Hobley Davison (editor), Secker & Warburg, page 146,
      Who is there who has not jeered at the House of Lords, the military caste, the Royal Family, the public schools, the huntin′ and shootin′ people, the old ladies in Cheltenham boarding houses, the horrors of ‘county’ society and the social hierarchy generally?
    • 1958, Michael Dunlop Young, The Rise of the Meritocracy, page 55,
      Year by year, but especially in 1958, Labour Party statements said that ‘Labour must no longer hesitate to tackle the greatest source of social inequality and class division in our society – the private schools.’ But they did hesitate, even though the leaders of Labour were guilty public-school men themselves. The majority of Labour party members attended the state funded Grammar schools in this period. They won a scholarship.
    • 1978, Donald Gould, A Groundling′s Notebook: Empire Line, New Scientist, Volume 80, page 121,
      When I was a boy public schools were the only means of entry into the corridors of power. This statement is not entirely correct. Many state funded Grammar schools produced pupils who were high achievers.
    • 1979, James MacGregor Burns, Leadership, page 97,
      The striking aspect of the public school was the “unconscious” engineering that led to magnificent social opportunities for a chosen few males of the middle class and helped reinforce social deprivation and political frustration for Britain′s working classes. The working class pupils of merit attended Grammar schools and were a match for the nepotism that existed then and now in the public school world. The social engineering was deliberate and political and continues today in all levels of education in the UK. Some institutions enact "affirmative action" to open opportunities to students who fall short of optimum entry criteria.
  2. (North America, Australia) A publicly administered school.
    • 1950, Samuel Macauley Jackson, Lefferts Augustine Loetscher, Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, page 378,
      The public schools of Australia underwent an important change in the eighth decade of the nineteenth century, when obligatory gratuitous instruction was introduced into all the colonies. While many schools are still maintained by religious denominations, all citizens contribute to the support of the public schools.
    • 1999, Carl Leon Bankston, R. Kent Rasmussen, Encyclopedia of Family Life, Volume 4, page 1174,
      Parents may see public schools as actually irreligious and as undermining values that the parents hold dear.
    • 2003, National Education Association of the United States, Speeches and Presentations to the Representative Assembly, page 40,
      What my friend Reggie didn′t say was I was kicked out of the Catholic school. I then went to a public school that gave me a second chance. (Applause)
    • 2007, Peter Sacks, Tearing Down the Gates: Confronting the Class Divide in American Education, page 92,
      As Americans, we like to think that our public school system can be a great equalizer, able to overcome social and economic disparities, not an institution that may in fact reproduce and justify existing inequalities.
    • 2008 February 12, John Faulkner, speech to Australian House of Representatives, Condolences, published in Kim E. Beazley, Father of the House: The Memoirs of Kim E. Beazley, page 316,
      Struck by the vast difference between education opportunities available in the state′s public schools and private schools, Kim Beazley joined the Australian Labor Party with the aim, he later wrote, of bringing to Australia high-quality umiversal education.
    • 2008, Hugh Mackay, Advance Australia...Where?, unnumbered page,
      Under the headline ‘Private schools awash in cash’, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on 6 October 2006 that a leading private boys′ school with an operating surplus of $4.1 milliion for the year had received $3.3 million in government funding, while a girls′ school that had received $2.5 million had reported a net surplus of $2 million for the year. Meanwhile, 70 percent of public school principals surveyed by the Australian Education Union say their schools are in need of a serious maintenance overhaul.


  • (fee-charging private or independent school): private school (North America, Australia)
  • (publicly administered school): state school


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Last modified on 7 April 2014, at 22:42