Pupils from private schools start drinking at a younger age, binge drink more frequently and take more drugs than state-educated ones, a study claims.
And by the age of 21, they show no more signs of maturity than their non-fee-paying counterparts, it found.
Researchers from York University said that while fees were often ‘exorbitant… we found, for the first time, that private and state school students do not differ in their wellbeing across adolescence’.
Girls from top schools were found to be three times more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol-related problems than their less privileged peers, researchers found [File photo]
The study added: ‘There is a growing body of evidence questioning the benefits of private over state education for children’s outcomes.’
Around 7 per cent of secondary school pupils are privately educated. Average day attendance fees are around £18,000 a year and for students who board this can rise to £35,000 a year.
Studies show they achieve better average grades than pupils from state schools, are more likely to attend prestigious universities such as Oxford or Cambridge and earn more when they start working.
The York team, led by psychologist Professor Sophie von Stumm from the university’s department of education, tracked 2,400 pupils from state schools and 269 from private schools through to the age of 21. They questioned each one on drink and drug use, their sex lives and criminal behaviour.
The results, published in the British Journal of Psychology, showed those from fee-paying schools were younger when they first tried alcohol, engaged more often in binge drinking and were more likely to try cannabis or other illicit drugs.
Pupils from private schools start drinking at a younger age, binge drink more frequently and take more drugs than state-educated ones, a study claims [File photo]
They also tended to have more sexual partners. However, they were less likely to be in trouble with the police, indulge in anti-social behaviour or have unprotected sex than state school students.
Professor von Stumm said: ‘Our findings are particularly relevant for parents considering private education for their children.
‘They may assume it will add value to children’s development and that this justifies the investment in exorbitant school fees.
‘But our results suggest it adds little positive value to children’s social or emotional development and may even have a negative influence on it.
‘Compared to state school students, private pupils were more likely to take risks and started drinking alcohol at a younger age.’
A previous study showed those who go to the best private schools are more likely to end up with drug and alcohol addictions in later life.
Girls from top schools were found to be three times more likely to suffer from drug and alcohol-related problems than their less privileged peers, researchers found.
Boys from the same well-off backgrounds were twice as likely as other male students to become addicted to drink or substances in early adulthood.
The 2017 study by researchers at Arizona State University in the US assessed participants when they were at high school, then again annually across four college years, and from the age of 23 to 27. It was published in the journal Development and Psychopathology.
Studies show they achieve better average grades than pupils from state schools, are more likely to attend prestigious universities such as Oxford or Cambridge and earn more when they start workin. Corpus Christi College in Cambridge is pictured above [File photo]