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Study of factors affecting parental choice of private and public school in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia

Alsuiadi, Faisal Abdullah


Faisal Abdullah Alsuiadi


Trevor Male


In recent years a preference for secondary private school education over secondary public school education has increased rapidly among parents in Riyadh in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA). This study explored why, in the perceptions of 386 participants, private schools were preferred by some parents to public schools, or vice-versa.

The study was conducted through questionnaire survey and Focus Group methodologies in order to identify the factors that influenced parents to be attracted to their preferred school, as well as seeking to understand why and how these factors contributed to their decision-making. For example, some parents identified weaknesses in private schools that they felt had an impact upon their child’s academic performance. In some situations they, therefore, withdrew their children and sent them to public school. On the other hand, other parents expressed their dissatisfaction with elements of public school, resulting in them sending their children to private school.

Through determining the effects of independent variables in terms of choice of public or private school, the researcher was able to provide head teachers and administrators of private and public schools with identified negative and positive attributes based upon parental perceptions.

The thesis also places the situation in Saudi Arabia within the wider context of global research results regarding school choice, based upon a review of relevant literature addressing the reasons and circumstances influencing parents’ preference for private or public schools. This was achieved by collecting and collating data from a questionnaire survey of 386 public school and private school parents, followed by the results of a semi-structured Focus Group interview involving five parents from each type of school. In line with the literature review, a comparison of results was undertaken to explore the identified factors and the differences in perceptions of public and private schools parents related to the Quality of Instruction; Class Size; Teacher-Student Relationship; Parent-School Relationship; School Facilities; Physical Education and Sport activities; School Rules; Safe Haven.

The result of the Logistic Regression analysis revealed that, in the Saudi context, there are four significant predictors of parental school choice at the p<0.05 level or below: Class Size (W= 35.864, p˂0.001); Safe Haven (W= 19.68, p˂0.001); School Facilities (W= 6.14, p˂0.05) and Physical Education (W= 5.44, p˂0.05). Class Size was the strongest predictor, reflecting that parents who score high (or have higher agreement) on this variable, are more likely to choose a private school, because these parents either have experience of private education and/or appreciate that small class size permits a much more intense nurturing and teaching environment for pupils from the staff. This in turn demonstrated higher academic achievement in pupils. The results from this study also demonstrated, however, that parents who identified the issue of the school as a Safe Haven for their children were more likely to choose a public school. Whereas, parents who identified School Facilities as the most influential factor in their decision-making were more likely to choose a private school. This result was reflected with similar results for Physical Education and Sports.

Equally, the findings of this study indicate that parents who chose a private school demonstrated a more positive perception for the desirability of School Quality than public school parents. Also, the Pearson Correlation demonstrated that higher levels of parental educational achievement and monthly income were associated with stronger preferences for private schools. Conversely, participants who do not hold high education qualifications, and those who have lower monthly incomes, were more likely to choose public schools.

As this study was undertaken only in Riyadh City, KSA, the researcher recommends that future replications of this study, or a similar study, should be conducted in other cities in the Kingdom. Such studies could inform and enhance the overall effectiveness of the National Education System in KSA.

Since, for religious and cultural reasons, this study was conducted with male participants only a further important recommendation is that it would be beneficial to carry out a replication of this study, or a similar study, with female participants. Such a study would permit informative comparison of results, thereby positively contributing to enhancing the existing body of knowledge regarding reasons for parental perceptions and preferences related to school choice in KSA. Such data comparisons will help to inform improvements in the overall effectiveness of the National Education System in KSA.


Alsuiadi, F. A. (2015). Study of factors affecting parental choice of private and public school in Riyadh City, Saudi Arabia. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date May 6, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Education
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Education Studies, The University of Hull
Award Date Apr 1, 2015


Thesis (3.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2015 Alsuiadi, Faisal Abdullah. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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