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Answered 2010-07-05 09:56:31

The meanings are different in the US and Britain.

In America, Australia and many other countries, a public school is one which is funded by the state, and so is free to attend, and a private school is one which is set up independently of the state and is funded by a fee which parents must pay to educate their children there.

In Britain, a private school is the same, but what is called a public school in America is a 'state school' in Britain. The term 'public school' is often used to mean a private secondary school (high school), but especially refers to an old, prestigious private school.

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