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Close up of backpack of student attending a selective high school

Choosing the right high school is an important decision that can impact your child’s academic performance, friendship group, self image, and happiness. Selective High Schools are one options in NSW, designed for children who do well academically to have more stimulation and challenges than they may receive at another school.

So, should you consider applying for your child to sit for the Selective High School Placement Test or investigate other options? Selective high schools aren’t always the best choice for everyone. Before you sign up, consider these points to see if it’s the right decision.

What is a Selective High School?

New South Wales is home to 17 exclusive selective high schools and four selective agricultural schools. They are highly sought after because of their rigorous academic standards and selective admission process. It is based on student performance in English, mathematics, writing and general ability ( which is now highly focused on critical thinking).

The admission process begins in Year 7 and is determined by the results of the Selective High School Placement Test. (We have spoken about this test in more detail in our 5 Things You Need to Know About the Selective High School Placement Test blog post.)

Whether it is a school with a rich history or a recent addition to meet the demand, selective high schools offer a unique and economically viable option for students with exceptional abilities. However, with more choices comes the added responsibility of making an informed decision.

The Advantages of a Selective High School

For families seeking the best education for their children, selective high schools offer many benefits that make them a compelling choice.

Results-Driven Environment

Selective high schools provide students with a challenging and results-focused learning environment. The focus on academic excellence is evident in the consistently impressive Year 12 results produced by these schools.

A Community of Like-Minded Peers

Many selective high schools host students that are motivated and ambitious learners. They have a shared drive to succeed, often form close bonds and work together to reach their academic goals. It makes for a collaborative and supportive atmosphere where they can thrive.

Economical Education

Besides delivering exceptional results, selective schools offer budget-friendly alternatives when compared to independent schools. As they are government-run institutions, the fee contributions are significantly lower.

The Disadvantages of a Selective High School

While selective high schools offer many benefits, they are not without their drawbacks. For families considering this option, weigh up the potential disadvantages alongside the advantages.

High-Pressure Environment

A competitive atmosphere can bring out the best in some students, but it can also be a challenge for those who struggle with stress and pressure. Because of the rigorous focus on academic achievement, this type of environment may not be suitable for every student. Before deciding, it’s important to consider how your child will handle this type of atmosphere and whether they will thrive or struggle in this setting.

The Impact on Public Schools

There are concerns about the impact of selective entry schools on the public school system. It’s believed that the needs of high-achieving students could be met within the broader public school system, without the need for specialised selective schools.

Allegations of Intimidation by Independent Schools

There have been reports of allegations of coercion and discouragement by private schools. It is aimed at their top-performing students who are considering transferring to a selective high school. The claims suggest some schools are using underhanded tactics to prevent their most gifted students from leaving to pursue these opportunities.

How to Decide if a Selective High School is the Right Decision

Making the choice to send your child to a selective high school is a hard decision. When considering this option, ask yourself these questions to help determine if it’s something you should explore.

  • Understanding the school culture:
    • What is the level of competitiveness in the schools you are considering?
    • Do they prioritise activities outside of academics?
    • Are opportunities for sports, music, or the arts available?
    • How do they approach mental health?
    • Do they have programs for students from diverse backgrounds?
  • Location factors:
    • What will the commute be for your child?
  • Your child’s strengths:
    • Does your child enjoy academic work and testing?
    • Are their strengths in non-academic areas?
  • Your child’s temperament:
    • Does your child become anxious in testing situations?
    • Do they enjoy the performance aspect?
  • Your child’s opinion:
    • Does your child have a self-motivated desire to attend a selective school?
    • Are you attempting to convince them it’s the right choice?
  • Teacher input:
    • Have you discussed the selective school option with your child’s current teacher?
    • Does the teacher believe your child has the academic and emotional capability to succeed in this environment?
  • Tutoring considerations:
    • Is your child interested in tutoring or exam preparation?

How to Prepare for The Selective High School Placement Test

If you are considering enrolling your child in a selective high school, you should engage a tutor. They offer a comprehensive program to prepare children for the Selective High School Placement Test. 

The tutors will work with your child to develop their reading, writing, mathematical reasoning, and thinking skills while providing individualised support and feedback to help them perform at their best. It will give them the best chance to succeed and reach their full potential in the selective school environment.

Primary School Tutor

Master Coaching offers Primary School tuition for the Selective High School Placement Test. We are located in Hurstville, Sydney, and also offer online tutoring to students across NSW.

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