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General information

Find background information about both selective high schools and opportunity classes.

Opportunity classes – Year 5

Applying for placement in an opportunity class in Year 5.

Selective high schools – Year 7

Applying for placement in a selective high school in Year 7

Selective high schools - Years 8 to 12

Applying for placement in a selective high school for Years 8 to 12.

What are selective high schools and opportunity classes?

Selective high schools and opportunity classes are part of the department’s offerings for high potential and gifted students, providing:

  • specialist school settings that cater to their intellectual ability
  • classes with peers who have similar academic ability
  • an environment that supports their emotional wellbeing and social development

Opportunity classes are offered in primary school from Years 5 to 6. Selective high schools cater for students from Years 7 to 12.

High potential and gifted students can be found across diverse family, socio-economic, language, cultural backgrounds and geographic locations.

Research shows that grouping high potential and gifted students together benefits their academic progress while also being good for their emotional wellbeing. Having like-minded friends with similar ability levels makes school a more enjoyable experience.

VIDEO: What are opportunity classes and selective high schools?

Transcript of video animation: “What are opportunity classes and selective high schools?” (2 minutes 50 seconds)

[upbeat music]

[music fades]

[Female narrator]

The NSW Department of Education is committed to supporting all students to achieve their educational potential.

We recognise that all students require support to optimise their growth and achievement, including high potential and gifted students. One offering that the Department provides for these students is opportunity classes and selective high schools.

So, what are opportunity classes and selective high schools?

Opportunity classes, often called OC classes, are located in government primary schools and cater for high potential and intellectually gifted Year 5 and Year 6 students. There are:

  • 77 opportunity classes across NSW, and
  • Aurora College, a virtual opportunity class for students living in rural and remote areas and are enrolled in authorised host schools.

Selective high schools are government schools for high potential and gifted students. There are: 

  • 17 fully selective high schools - where all students attending the school are high potential or gifted
  • 26 partially selective high schools - where a school has a specialist class or classes for high potential or gifted students within a regular comprehensive high school
  • 4 agricultural selective high schools, some with boarding facilities for students from regional and remote areas, and
  • Aurora College, a virtual selective high school for high potential and gifted students who live in regional, rural or remote NSW and don’t have access to a selective high school in their local area.

Opportunity classes and selective high schools help students to learn by grouping them with students of similar ability and using specialised evidence-based teaching methods. These settings aim to meet the intellectual needs of the students by moving through curricula at a faster pace, and allowing students to explore concepts in more depth and with greater complexity.

Research demonstrates that grouping high potential and gifted students together has academic benefits and is also good for emotional wellbeing. The majority of students in opportunity classes or selective high schools report higher levels of satisfaction from learning with, and being friends with, like-minded students. 

For further information please visit our website.

[music becomes louder and then fades out]

[End of transcript]

VIDEO: What do we mean by high potential and gifted students?

Transcript of video animation: ‘What do we mean by high potential and gifted students?’ (2 minutes 34 seconds)

[Music]

[Female narrator]

The NSW Department of Education is committed to supporting all students to achieve their educational potential. We recognise that high potential and gifted students require support to optimise their growth and achievement. The department’s diverse settings include academically-selective classes in primary and secondary schools known as opportunity classes and selective high schools.

So what do we mean by high potential and gifted?

Professor Françoys Gagné suggests that potential exists along a continuum, where given the right conditions, high potential can lead to high performance and achievement.

Gagné outlines that students may show potential in one or more areas including intellectual, creative, social-emotional, and physical.

Selective high schools and opportunity classes are specialist settings that cater for students with high potential and gifts in the intellectual domain, as well as meeting the needs of those who have potential across multiple domains.

High potential and gifted students are found across diverse family, socio-economic, language, cultural backgrounds, and different geographic locations. Gifted students may also present with disability.

So what's the difference between high potential and gifted, or even highly gifted students?

High potential students are those whose potential exceeds that of students of the same age. They may benefit from an enriched or extended curriculum and learning opportunities beyond the typical level of their age peers.

Gifted students are those whose potential significantly exceeds that of students of the same age. They typically develop talent and achieve mastery much faster than their age peers.

Highly gifted students are those whose potential vastly exceeds that of their age peers. Highly gifted students may require specific and significant curriculum adjustments to meet their learning and wellbeing needs.

Opportunity classes and selective high schools are specifically designed to provide optimal learning conditions to support talent development of high potential and gifted students.

[End of transcript]

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