Public Schools

The term ‘public school’ in Britain is the cause of some confusion. ‘Public schools’ are actually not public, they’re private, and funded by school fees paid by parents. Publicly funded schools are known as ‘state schools’.

Fees for ‘day pupils’ average around £9000 per school year – day pupils, as the name suggests, only attend during the school day – while ‘boarders’ – who live in the school – can pay over £20,000 a year.

The best known public schools in England include Charterhouse, Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Winchester, while Gordonstoun and Fettes are the best known in Scotland.

The influence of public schools on British life exceeds the number of students who attend them, they send more students to the top tier of universities than state schools and the majority of British Members of Parliament have attended public schools.  Napoleon is said to have reported that ‘the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton’.

Several fictional characters have attended public schools, including James Bond (Eton), Captain Hook from Peter Pan (Eton), Flashman (Rugby – pictured), Ducky Mallard from NCIS (Eton) and Tom Brown from Tom Brown’s Schooldays (Rugby).  

flashman