Equity Placement Model
Creating fair and equitable access for educationally disadvantaged and under-represented students
What is the Equity Placement Model?
The Equity Placement Model helps to make access to opportunity classes and selective high schools fairer for the following under-represented groups:
- Students from low socio-educational advantage backgrounds
- Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
- Students from rural and remote locations
- Students with disability
A 2018 review of selective education access found that these groups were missing out due to unintended barriers to entry.
The current proportion of under-represented students
|Equity Group||State-wide proportion in public schools||Current proportion placed in selective high schools (2022)|
Students from low socio-educational advantage backgrounds
Aboriginal students and/or Torres Strait Islander students
Students from rural and remote locations
Gifted learners with disability
To help compensate for this, the Equity Placement Model holds a percentage of student places at each school for students from these equity groups to help increase their participation.
The application process still remains the same for all students. Learn more about how students are identified for each of the equity groups below.
Transcript – Equity Placement Model
High potential and gifted students can be found across diverse family, socio-economic, language, cultural backgrounds, geographic locations and with disability.
In 2018, the Review of Selective Education Access found that there are groups of high potential and gifted students that are under-represented in opportunity classes and selective high schools.
The under-represented groups are:
- students from communities of low socio-educational advantage
- Aboriginal students
- students in rural and remote locations and
- students with disability.
The department wants to ensure that there is fair and equitable representation of all students in opportunity classes and selective high schools. We have made some changes to the way high potential and gifted students from underrepresented groups can be placed, through the use of the Equity Placement Model.
All students, including those in equity groups, are expected to take the placement test and parents are still required to apply for placement on behalf of their child. Equity placement will be used to increase participation in opportunity classes and selective high schools for students from targeted equity groups.
The department identified the number of students in equity groups currently in opportunity classes and selective high schools compared with the number of students in equity groups, currently in all NSW public schools to set target benchmarks for participation in opportunity classes and selective high schools.
The Equity Placement Model aims to reduce the gap between the current numbers of equity students in opportunity classes and selective high schools and the target benchmarks.
The Equity Placement Model works by first offering 75% of places to students according to their performance in the placement test. This includes students in equity groups whose performance qualifies them for one of these places. The next 20% of places are made available to students in the equity groups who have not already been offered a place. The offer is also based on their performance in the placement test and to be of a comparable level to general applicants.
Equity places for high potential and gifted students from equity groups in each school or class are:
- 10% of places for students from low socio-educational groups
- 5% of places for Aboriginal students
- 2.5% of places for students from rural or remote NSW locations and
- 2.5% of places for students with disability.
Where there are not enough successful applicants from targeted equity groups to fill the places held in a school or class, the places will revert to general applicants.
Up to 5% of places are offered to students who were unable to complete the placement test for a valid reason approved by the selection committee.
The Equity Placement Model is designed to be responsive to changes in schools. The department will monitor the placement outcomes each year to help ensure that our opportunity classes and selective high schools reflect the diversity of students within NSW public schools.
If necessary, we may add additional equity groups and change the percentages of places made available. We want to ensure that every child and young person in our school system is realising their full potential.
For more information about applying to opportunity classes and selective high schools please visit our website.
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How does it work?
The Equity Placement Model works by first offering 75% of places to students according to their performance in the placement test. This includes students in equity groups whose performance qualifies them for one of these places.
The next 20% of places are made available to students in the equity groups who have not already been offered a place. The offer is also based on their performance in the placement test and that their test performance is within 10 per cent of the minimum first round offer of general applicants for the school (or as determined by the selection committee).
If there are not enough applications from equity group students who meet the minimum test performance requirements, the held equity places will be offered to general applicants.
Up to 5% of places are available to students who were unable to complete the placement test for a valid reason approved by the selection committee.
The percentage of held places for each equity group are:
|Equity group||% of places held|
Students from low socio-educational advantage backgrounds
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
Rural and remote students
|Students with disability||2.5%|
* Extra targeted places for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students are available at Alexandria Park Community School, Rose Bay Secondary College and Tempe High School.
How do I apply for equity placement for my child?
There is no separate application process. Students from each of the equity groups will be identified using data from the application form and other data held by the department.
Students from low socio-educational backgrounds: Students who currently attend schools that serve communities with high levels of disadvantage will be eligible for low socio-educational equity placement.
Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students: Students identifying as Aboriginal will be eligible for equity placement.
Rural and remote students: Students whose home address and current school is located in a rural or remote area will be eligible for equity placement.
Students with disability: Students with disability who are listed on the Nationally Consistent Collection of Data on School Students with Disability (NCCD) as receiving a supplementary, substantial or extensive adjustment will be eligible for equity placement.
How many initial offers were made under the Equity Placement Model for selective high schools?
Initial offers for 2023 entry in to selective high schools were released on Friday 19 August 2022. In the first year of the Equity Placement Model, fewer than half of the equity places held were offered:
- 369 out of 860 equity places held, or 8.7% of the 20% have been offered
- The vast majority of places will be offered as usual to general applicants (91.3% of 4,253)
- There were slightly more equity places offered to partially selective high schools and regional agricultural high schools (average of 11.3% out of the 20%) compared to fully selective high schools (average of 7.3% out of the 20%)
- The majority of students offered equity places have test performance equivalent to or higher than students on the reserve lists for those schools
- There are almost 4,000 general applicant students on a reserve list as part of the normal placement process who may still be offered a place
- There have always been students from under-represented groups that received placement offers; this year 592 students from under-represented groups have received first round offers in the general applicants list
- The additional places offered this year under the Equity Placement Model has made progress in closing the gap in participation in selective high schools from under-represented groups without having a significant impact on other applicants
Frequently asked questions
Equity means that students have fair access and opportunity to attend opportunity classes and selective high schools, regardless of their background, for example their diverse family, socio-educational, language, cultural backgrounds and geographic locations.
To help determine the equity group percentages for each under-represented group, we compared the number of students in equity groups currently in opportunity classes and selective high schools with the number of students in equity groups in all NSW public schools. Our equity group percentages, along with increased awareness, will ensure greater participation of high potential and gifted students from equity groups that is proportionally similar to our broader population.
Please note that the equity model percentages are flexible year-on-year to respond to diversity changes in the wider student community, changes in student numbers, and the level of educational disadvantage experienced by under-represented students.
Students will not be informed about whether their place was allocated on the basis of the equity placement model due to student privacy and wellbeing considerations. If a student who has been offered a place identifies with one (or more) of the under-represented groups, this does not prove or disprove that their placement was based on the equity considerations in the new model.
Currently, high potential and gifted students are already missing out because they experience unintended barriers to entry. In order to make the system fairer for these students the held places for equity groups will impact upon the total number of available places for general applicants. This will help ensure students are placed based on their ability and not their background.
Opportunity classes and selective high schools are just some of the ways that we cater to high potential and gifted students. All NSW public schools provide high-quality education and provisions to optimise the talent development of high potential and gifted students, as supported by the department’s High Potential and Gifted Education Policy. Other support provisions provided by schools may include enrichment, extension, curriculum differentiation and extra-curricular programs.
There are high potential and gifted students in all schools and many of these students choose to remain in their comprehensive schools on their educational journey.
The Review and action plan have been included on the department’s selective high schools and opportunity classes website to ensure parents and the community are aware and kept up to date as the department addresses the findings and actions from the Review.
Representatives from a range of groups were consulted on the proposed changes from the Review including, the NSW P&C Federation, Gifted NSW, Gifted Learners with Disability Australia, the Isolated Children's Parents Association and Ethnic Communities Council of NSW.
All students sit the same test and meet an academic standard. Any student offered a place under the Equity Placement Model must achieve a score that is very close to the other entrants.
Equity group students who receive a placement offer have the same academic potential as other students offered a place, but they have been unable to demonstrate it due to their disadvantage.
This is a very common practice in other state and independent school systems and at universities (including the University of Sydney, the University of New South Wales and public selective high schools in Victoria).
- Each year, around 75% of applicants do not receive a place in a selective education class or school.
- The small number of places available through the Equity Placement Model will not make a significant difference to the chances of a student being offered a place at their preferred school.
- In the current selective high school process, only 369 places out of over 4,200 have been offered to equity group students.
- The number of applications for each school, the performance of other students applying for the same school and how many families decide to decline their offers are more likely to determine if a student receives an offer.
- If students are not offered a place they can also be placed on a reserve list which is used until term 1 2023.
No. All students from under-represented groups that are offered placement must have sat the placement test and demonstrated their ability to perform at a high academic level.
The majority of equity group students who receive first round offers under the Equity Placement Model have test performance that is comparable or higher than students who were placed from reserve lists in last year’s placement process.
Schools often report that students who have entered on the lower end of scores for the school often outperform their peers.
No. The small number of places available through the Equity Placement Model will not make a significant difference to the chances of a student being offered a place at their preferred school.
Currently not all places for opportunity classes and selective high schools are filled each year. In 2022, there were 61 unfilled vacancies in selective high schools and 69 unfilled vacancies in opportunity classes.
Opportunity classes and selective high schools are not the only way that we provide support to help students achieve their potential.
All NSW public schools cater to the needs of high potential and gifted students and many students achieve outstanding results in non-selective schools.
The way we score student performance has not changed, but there have been changes to the reporting of results (learn about the new Performance report).