Selective high schools – Year 7

Selective high schools provide a learning environment designed for academically gifted and high potential students.

Four high school students working on their laptops in the playground Four high school students working on their laptops in the playground
Image: Selective high schools—engaging and inspiring high potential and gifted students


What are the benefits?

Selective high schools help students learn by:

  • grouping them with other high potential and gifted students
  • using special teaching methods so students can learn concepts in more detail and more quickly
  • supporting their wellbeing needs.

Most students in selective high schools enjoy learning more when their classmates have similar abilities and interests.

As well as providing for students’ academic development, selective high schools also offer a broad range of classes and extra-curricular activities such as sports, creative and performing arts, music, and special interest clubs.

VIDEO: What are the benefits of selective education?

[Transcript of video animation: ‘What are the benefits of selective education’ (2 minutes 39 seconds)]

Selective education creates a unique opportunity for high potential and gifted students and has the potential to have a positive impact on their educational outcomes and to open new pathways for their future.

Deciding whether to apply for a place in an opportunity class or selective high school is an important choice for your child's education.

Here are some questions to help you decide:

What is selective education and what are the benefits?

Opportunity classes and selective high schools deliver the New South Wales curriculum using specialised evidence-based teaching methods that are proven to support the learning and wellbeing needs of high potential and gifted students. Students will learn at a faster pace and explore concepts of increasing difficulty in greater depth.

Students will learn alongside peers who have similar ability and interests because research shows that grouping high potential and gifted students together is good for their wellbeing.

Like all New South Wales public schools, academically selective education schools provide access to a wide range of extra curricular groups and activities.

What are some of the challenges your child may face?

Some students may feel anxious about going to a school where they might not know anyone. Don't worry, the schools know this and they plan activities to help students get to know each other.

Some students and parents are worried that the school will be overly competitive. Like all New South Wales public schools, our academically selective schools and classes encourage students to focus on learning and wellbeing, not competing.

Students are provided with a supportive environment where everyone is encouraged to challenge and expand their understanding of concepts and develop their skills.

If you feel that an academically selective school would be a good fit for your child, we encourage you to apply.

The introduction of the equity placement model has made these settings more accessible for students from a broad range of backgrounds. To learn more about selective education and how to apply for placement, visit the NSW Department of Education selective education web section.

[End transcript]


Common questions

Because all students in a selective high school have high potential or are gifted, teachers can set more challenging and complex tasks to ensure that they are engaged and excited by their learning. There is also often a strong focus on problem solving and independent thinking.

Teachers also help students to develop independent learning strategies and time management skills. For example, students might set the direction of their own learning and be responsible for its completion. They can learn important skills needed for high school and beyond.

In some selective high schools students may have the curriculum accelerated and complete school work that is designed for students in higher years.

Grouping gifted and high potential students together benefits their education, social development and wellbeing.

Selective high schools attract a large number of students from many different schools, bringing together high potential and gifted students into the one classroom.

A local school's enrichment class may find it difficult to form a class with students who have similar levels of ability to those found in selective high schools.

What do students say about going to a selective high school?

Students tell us that they love learning with other students who are like them—students who enjoy asking questions, delving into topics, and being challenged academically.

Hear the students below bust some myths about selective high schools.

VIDEO: Get the whole picture about selective high schools

[Transcript of video animation: ‘Get the whole picture about selective high schools’ (3 minutes 50 seconds)]

[Music]

[Fort Street student 2]
Everyone is super nerdy and always studying.

[Baulkham Hills student 3]
I think everyone is the super nerdy. Yes, we got to an all nerd school. But I think there's a community in that. I'm not even kidding.

[Fort Street student 2]
I think a good balance is what we all have.

[Baulkham Hills student 1]
There is no student diversity.

[Fort Street student 2]
Wrong.

[Caringbah student 2]
It's, you know, people come from all over. And in terms of like diversity, it's a very diverse environment, very in terms of not just like, you know, appearance or culture, but like in terms of who we are as people, which I think is really important. There is too much academic pressure.

[Fort Street student 2]
I think there's a there's a healthy, like, push to get us to perform to our best ability. But I don't think like any of it is, like, too stressful or, like, unwarranted. Like everything is for, our like, best performance yeah.

[Caringbah student 3]
I think with the stigma of this pressure, the teachers try really hard to combat it. They always say, Just do your best. And that's that's it. There's no point always aiming to get 100% because that is not achievable. And if you do your best, really, that's what you're improving on and that's the skills you're building and the skills you're going to keep for life.

[Caringbah student 1]
Everyone is super competitive and focused on beating each other

[Baulkham Hills student 3]
I care about how well I do as like myself. I know a lot of other people do feel this competition is a good opportunity for them and they thrive when they're like competing against others.

[Caringbah student 3]
People love to share resources again, love to make sure everyone else understands the concept and we're just teaching and learning together.

[Baulkham Hills student 3]
It is not a supportive environment. I think it is. I think we are supportive of each other.

[Caringbah student 3]:
It's just a supportive environment that allows everyone to do that best and to, you know, follow their interests.

[Fort Street student 2]
That’s false, I think it is a supportive environment. Yeah.

[Fort Street student 3]
Yeah. We all try and push each other up. We all support each other. We’re all there for each other. We all help each other.

[Fort Street student 2]
The students are all coached. Nope! I’m not.

[Fort Street student 1]
I’m not.

[Fort Street student 3]
Neither am I.

[Baulkham Hills student 3]
No, we are definitely not all coached.

[Caringbah student 3]
The teachers here are excellent at their jobs and they understand what they're teaching very well and they have all the resources to give us.

[Caringbah student 1]
it's hard to make friends. I was a bit scared to come to this school because I didn't know anyone but, um, you click really, really easily

[Fort Street student 3]
I really connected with a lot of people really well, really fast. Better than any other schools I've ever been to.

[Caringbah student 2]
We're all really good friends and there's a really positive atmosphere just in the school. And yeah, I think it's I think it's a really, really good environment to be in.

[Baulkham Hills student 1]
Question is, the students are only good at academics.

[Fort Street student 1]
I mean, we're all here because we're good academics, but that's not the only thing.

[Baulkham Hills student 3]
Well, I mean, even if you look at all of us, we all have extracurriculars. And I think I think everyone in our grade, our school has something outside of academics that they really are good at or they really like putting in a lot of effort and passion into.

[Caringbah student 1]
A big part of doing well in academics is just having like an all around like balance in your life. And I feel like the school's sense of balance is really good. We have, yes, sport creative stuff. We have. Yeah, it's way more than just academic performance. So yeah,

[Fort Street student 3]
Anyone who's thinking about going to the selective schools test, just give it a go. It doesn't matter if you get in. It doesn't matter if you don't get in, give it a go. If you get into selective school, that's amazing. Come join our cool, quirky cohorts. Yeah, You'll find people that you belong with.

[End of transcript]

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 offering 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 find one near you on the maps below.

Learn more at What are selective high schools.

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

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

First, discuss the opportunity with your child and look through the information together here on our website and on the Student Resource Hub.

Your child may have high academic potential if they demonstrate some of the following:

  • enjoy learning
  • have intense curiosity
  • display a good memory
  • ask complex questions
  • enjoy 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.

Please be aware that not all high potential and gifted learners will display all of these characteristics, for example, due to lack of opportunity, disability or disadvantage.

Learn more about the department’s High Potential and Gifted Education Policy.

VIDEO: Is selective education the right fit for your child?

[Transcript of video animation: ‘Is selective education the right fit for your child?’ (1 minutes 59 seconds)]

It's important to consider:

Your child's characteristics:

  • Does your child enjoy learning?
  • Are they curious and creative?
  • Do they ask complex questions?
  • Or do they have a well developed memory and deep focus on their areas of interest or passion?

Your child's personality and temperament:

  • Are they more motivated when challenged?

Students who worry too much about not being the 'best' or are regularly comparing themselves to other students and their achievements, may not find an opportunity class or selective high school is the right choice for them.

Your child's preference:

Does your child want to attend an opportunity class or academically selective high school? If you feel that an academically selective school would be a good fit for your child, we encourage you to apply.

The introduction of the Equity Placement Model has made these settings more accessible for students from a broad range of backgrounds.

Remember, opportunity classes and selective high schools are not the only option for high potential and gifted students.

High potential and gifted education is part of every school, and there are many specialist New South Wales public schools, in the areas of sport, music and performing arts, that may also be good options for your child, and your local school may also offer enrichment programs.

No matter which New South Wales Public School your child attends, their learning and well-being needs will be met.

To learn more about selective education and how to apply for placement, visit the NSW Department of Education selective education web section.

[End transcript]

Student resource hub

Encourage your child to visit the Applying for a selective high school: Student resource hub.

Here students can:

  • learn more about whether a selective high school might be a good fit
  • take interactive quizzes
  • practice test items to help them prepare
  • and lots more.


The Equity Placement Model

The Equity Placement Model helps to make access to 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

The model holds up to 20% of places at each school for students from these groups to help increase their participation.

These students may be considered for equity placement if their test performance is within 10% of general applicants' first round offers for each school.

Learn more at Equity Placement Model.

VIDEO: The Equity Placement Model—making access to opportunity classes and selective high schools fairer

[Transcript of video animation: ‘The Equity Placement Model: Making access to opportunity classes and selective high schools fairer’ (1 minute)]

The Equity Placement Model helps make access to opportunity classes and selective high schools fairer for students from:

  • communities of low socio-educational advantage
  • Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander students
  • students in rural and remote locations
  • and students with disability.

We know that these students are currently under-represented in opportunity classes and selective high schools.

The Equity Placement Model holds up to 20% of student places in each opportunity class or selective high school for students from these groups based on their performance in the placement test.

Equity students may be considered for equity placement if their test performance is within 10% of general applicants’ first round offers for each school.

Visit our website to learn more.

[End transcript]

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

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

[Music]

[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.

[Music]

[End transcript]

How do I apply?

Applications for Year 7 entry in 2025 are open from Monday, 9 October 2023 and close Monday, 20 November 2023.

You apply online through the application site during this time.

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 for the best viewing experience.

Key Dates—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

Late-August 2024 Placement outcomes released

* There may be changes to key dates and procedures, please check the website regularly for any updates.

Applicants for Year 7 entry in 2024

Applicants for selective high school Year 7 placement in 2024 can continue to log in to their application dashboard.

You may need to log in to your application dashboard to send us a message to:

  • ask questions about your application
  • make changes to your application
  • upload supporting documentation.

See messages and changes to the application for more information.

Latest updates

  • Offers are being made from reserve lists until the end of Term 1 in 2024. Parents will receive an email when their placement outcome is available in the application dashboard.
  • Appeals outcomes will be released at the end of October.

Key Dates for Year 7 entry in 2024*

Date Activity

4 May 2023

Selective High School Placement Test

11 May 2023 Illness/misadventure requests due
11 June 2023 Last day to change your school choices
18 August 2023 Placement outcome released
End October 2023 Appeals outcomes released
Late-January 2024 Authority to attend a selective high school letter available

* There may be changes to key dates and procedures, please check the website regularly for any updates.

Category:

  • School operations

Business Unit:

  • Educational Standards
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