Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students in selective high schools

How to apply

You apply through the online application site during the application period (see the key dates below).

The parent or carer who lives with their child for most of the time should submit the application.

The application takes approximately 8 minutes to complete. Use landscape mode on a mobile phone.

Key dates

Selective high schools—Year 7 entry in 2025*

Date Activity
9 October 2023 Applications open
20 November 2023 Applications close
9 May 2024 Selective High School Placement Test
Mid-August 2024 Placement outcomes released (expected)

* Currently confirmed dates. More to come.

What's so great about selective high schools?

Selective high schools provide a learning environment designed for students with high academic potential.

They help students learn by:

  • providing opportunities alongside other high potential and gifted students
  • using special teaching methods so students can learn at a quicker pace and in more detail
  • supporting their wellbeing needs and social development.

Selective high schools also offer a broad range of co-curricular activities such as sports, creative and performing arts, music, and special interest clubs.

Research shows that students benefit both academically and socially from learning with classmates who have similar academic abilities.

Selective high schools are unzoned so you can apply no matter where you live in NSW.

VIDEO: Meet Mouhtadi Sjarief —past selective high school student and proud Ngemba man

Transcript of video: ‘Meet Mouhtadi’ (1 minutes 57 seconds)


[Mouhtadi speaking]

Hi. My name's Mouhtadi and I'm fourth year medical student at UNSW. I'm an ex-techie who previously graduated here from 2018. I'm a proud member Ngemba man from Sydney, however, my Indigenous roots are from Bourke.

Coming from a small primary school in Mascot to Sydney Tech, I was quite ecstatic, you know, getting into a selective school.

It has a good environment around it, especially like an academic environment.

It can push you to do better and just have the expectation, you know, that you're, you can go to uni and you can achieve.

Selective schools aren’t necessarily, ah, just focused on academics and that's something that I learnt through my time out here. So at Sydney Tech, there are a lot of opportunities. So, for example, in Year 7 to Year 11 I played saxophone in the school band.

There's a lot of good sporting opportunities as well, if you're in, like, competitive sporting teams; we have good soccer teams, and there are a lot of things that can help enrich student things, not just from an academic perspective, but career building and personal building skills.

Learning from my PHP teacher and other things, there's a big gap between Indigenous health, between Indigenous people and non-Indigenous people, which is one reason that I wanted to get into medicine so to potentially help close that gap.

Yeah, I really enjoyed my time at tech. Just hanging around with different people, you know, playing soccer every day. Yeah. Just enjoying, you know, the student lifestyle.

Yeah, I feel like applying for a selective high school—definitely should apply for one. And there are academic pathways out there for Indigenous people. And if you study hard and put your head down to it, you can achieve a lot of things.


[End transcript]

Connecting with culture

Helping Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students connect with one another and with culture.

We recognise the key role cultural connection plays in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students’ wellbeing and academic success.

The Selective Education Unit works with the department's Aboriginal Outcomes and Partnerships team to provide cultural and academic learning opportunities for students.

Sky Story

Sky Story is an exciting program connecting Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students from selective high schools across NSW.

The Sky Story Symposium is a 2-day camp where students are able to:

  • meet and learn with other Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
  • learn from Elders and other mentors
  • take part in a range of cultural activities
  • learn about exciting post-school opportunities.

Hear from the students about Sky Story in the video below.

VIDEO: Sky Story, Our Story

Transcript of video: ‘Sky Story, Our Story’ (3 minutes 25 seconds)

[Clarence Bruinsma, Secondary and Post Schooling Pathways Advisor]

Ginagay. We’re here at Sky Story, and what a great opportunity for our young Aboriginal kids across New South Wales to have mob coming in from as far as Armidale to connect, share and learn in this space.

The Sky Story, I guess, in the essence of what it is, is bringing young people together; that they are the stars of tomorrow, the stars of today and they are growing in their brightness.

Sky Story, what the team of the selective schools program have created, is where our young people they’re thriving and screaming out for opportunities to connect through culture and to connect to other young Aboriginal people, and the team here have brought these young, strong, bright individuals together and done so.

The responses from the children in terms of their engagement in the program but as well as just seeing the smiles on their face and their new learning that they’re getting has been unforgettable. And I believe that they will walk away stronger and will be strong cultural leaders in their school, changing the face of what Aboriginal education looks like within the selective schools program.

[Student 1]

Sky Story for me is, kind of, everyone comes together with all these different stars from all these different places, and they come to create one big constellation, or one big community. And it’s a great way for us all to connect.

[Student 2]

When I think of the stars and I look up at the night sky, I think of how small we are, in a sense, and also like, one small star, like, together when you put all of those tiny stars together, like, it creates something really beautiful. It says how we’re all connected in a way, although we might not know each other, like, there’s always some way that we’re connected.

[Student 3]

The connection kind of just, like, happens. So, I’m talking, they’re talking and then, you know, the next minute we are just pals, we’re talking all the time, it makes me feel really good about myself.

[Student 4]

It was really easy to convene with each other and sort of make new friendships.

[Student 1]

When I came to Sky Story I expected that there’d be a lot more variance from the people and that everyone would be completely different, it might be a bit hard to get along. But we’ve all kind of found common interests among an other. And upon that we’ve been able to develop some great bonds, get along great. Like, for example, coming here we started playing chess. Just something as simple as that, we all immediately got drawn to that and we all started bonding over that.

[Student 5]

Sky story has helped me to learn about culture through Uncle Les, who is an Indigenous Elder of the area.

[Student 6]

Listening to all the mentors talk it’s really comforting to hear people that have walked similar paths of life as you as well. And, like, that there’s heaps of options for you and, like, the way that they’ve gone through their journey it could be a journey for you and it’s really comforting to know that those people are out there.

[Student 7]

If I heard a student was considering coming here, I would tell them go! It’s a really good opportunity. It is the most, best, or the most engaging, you know, Indigenous, cultural education program I have ever attended or experienced in my ten years’ of schooling.

[End Transcript]

Is a selective high school the right fit for my child?

Parents and carers can sometimes be unsure whether a selective high school will suit their child.

Your child may thrive in a selective high school if they:

  • enjoy learning
  • have intense curiosity
  • display a good memory
  • ask complex questions
  • like learning new and often complex ideas or skills
  • require fewer repetitions when learning new things
  • are creative
  • become intensely focused in their area of interest or passion.

Talk to your child about whether they might be interested in going to a selective high school.

Student Resource Hub

Let your child know about the Student Resource Hub where they can learn more about selective high schools, including:

  • what’s so different about selective high schools?
  • whether it might be a good fit for them
  • how the test works—and try out the interactive practice questions.

Fair access

We know that some high-potential and gifted Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students are currently missing out on going to a selective high school.

To help increase the numbers of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students (and other under-represented groups) in selective high schools we use the Equity Placement Model.

The Equity Placement Model

5% of places are held for Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students

The Equity Placement Model helps make access fairer for more high-potential students in our community.

Under the Model, up to 20% of student places at each selective high school are held for

  • students from low socio-educational advantage backgrounds (10%)
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students (5%)
  • students from rural and remote locations (2.5%)
  • students with disability (2.5%).

These students can be offered a place if their test performance is within 10% of the lowest general applicant first-round offer for the school.

Find out more at Equity Placement Model.

Image: Artwork by selective education students: Syanna, Izzy, Tahlia, Henry and Enid—mentored by Danielle Mate.

Online selective classes if you live in a rural or remote location

If you live in a rural or remote location (and don't have a selective high school near home) you can apply for the department's Aurora College.

Students attend their local (host) NSW public high school and then join the online Aurora College for English, maths, science, and technology lessons.

Students interact with their teachers and other students through the virtual learning environment and residential school programs.

See if there is an Aurora College host local school near you using the map below.

Image: Students from rural and remote locations learning together in Aurora College

Where are they located?

There are 47 selective high schools for Year 7 entry each year, including an online class, Aurora College, for rural and remote students.

  • 17 selective high schools
  • 25 partially selective high schools
  • 4 agricultural selective high schools (some offer boarding)
  • A virtual class, Aurora College, is available for rural and remote students in 182 authorised host schools.

See a list of all the selective high schools.

Or view on the map below.

Learn more at What are selective high schools.

Male_student_smiles_into_the_camera_while_sitting_at_a_desk_in_the_library_with_an_open_book,_with_out-of-focus_students_behind_talking_behind_him Male_student_smiles_into_the_camera_while_sitting_at_a_desk_in_the_library_with_an_open_book,_with_out-of-focus_students_behind_talking_behind_him

Contact us

If you have any questions, please reach out to our friendly team.

Selective Education Unit

Phone: 1300 880 367

Email: ssu@det.nsw.edu.au

Join our Facebook Group

Keep up to date on the latest news about selective high schools.

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