The subject of private education in the UK often triggers much emotion and heat, focusing as it often does on the perceived privilege and power of one social class over another. This is unfortunate as the heat generated by these polarised positions obscures some of the real reasons underlying the difference.
The research found that even when they compared graduates attending the same universities, studying the same subjects and entering the same careers, the privately educated were earning around 6% more. This is frequently explained away as a result of the benefit of the "old boy network" and socio-economic background. What is rarely, if ever, referred to is self-confidence and "roundedness" - something private schools frequently excel at and which many state schools do not specifically address. In my experience working with graduates and students from both private and state school sectors, I have consistently seen much focus and attention paid to the development of self-confidence in private schools through encouraging public speaking and debate, involvement in community activities, the development of social skills, competitive sports, endeavour and initiative programmes, and so on. In my experience such activities typically result in students who are more poised and appropriately confident i.e. are willing to try new things, be bold, and risk failure.
The strong link between self-confidence and career success is well established. It shouldn't be a surprise that being more confident at work can mean more promotions. A study at the University of Melbourne found a correlation between confidence levels as early as primary school age and success in the workplace as adults (as measured by increased promotion). Being confident has been shown to significantly increase the likelihood of success in an argument or negotiation (studies from University of Edinburgh and University of California - San Diego). A lack of confidence is associated with a person being less willing to take risks, less likely to accept new challenges, and less likely to stretch themselves outside of their comfort zone. Healthily confident people are much better prepared to step up. Whilst not all privately educated students will emerge into adulthood 'healthily confident' the research would suggest that more of them do so than their state educated counterparts.
Contrary to popular opinion, the stereotype of the "arrogant public school boy" is not significantly evidenced in the research. Other research from the US and the UK indicates that arrogance or over-confidence frequently leads to failure. This may be because it causes the person to overestimate their ability and under-prepare, and consequently perform badly.
The evidence suggests that state schools can and perhaps should learn from the private school example. For adults - whether state or privately educated - self-confidence is a key factor, not just in the achievement of a successful career, but in life more generally.
Coaching is known to be an effective and successful means of developing self-confidence - if you consider that you are lacking in confidence, coaching can help you to turn it around. Contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help.