High schools

Our high schools provide students from Years 7 to 12 with a quality education in a broad range of subjects.

High schools are different from primary schools in several ways:

  • classes are organised differently
  • there are a greater number of subjects - core and elective
  • schools are often larger in size
  • there is a greater level of personal responsibility expected of students.

Learning in high school

Subjects offered by secondary schools follow the requirements set by the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) to enable students to receive their Record of School Achievement (RoSA) or Higher School Certificate (HSC). Some schools also offer vocational education and training (VET) programs.

For more information, visit NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) useful information for parents

Special learning needs

The department provides specialist support classes, as well as schools for specific purposes (SSPs). Discuss options with the principal of your local school if your child has special learning needs.

For more information and assistance with special learning needs, you can:

Practical help for parents and carers

Our digital online learning packs are easy-to-use activities for parents and carers to use with their child.

Visit Parents and carers for useful information and strategies to help your child with tests, exams, and homework in general.

Specialist high schools

As well as comprehensive high schools, some schools focus on a particular area.

Creative and performing arts high schools

Our creative and performing arts high schools provide opportunities for students to pursue excellence within the creative and performing arts while studying the core curriculum prescribed by NESA.

Creative and performing arts high schools offer artistic education programs to prepare students for exciting careers in the arts and associated industries. These schools offer a specialised environment with performance and creative spaces, lighting and sound systems, dance studios and specialist teachers.

In addition to the core subjects prescribed by NESA, students can specialise in subjects such as dance, drama, music and visual arts.

Intensive English

Intensive English Centres (IECs) and the Intensive English High School (IEHS) provide intensive English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D) tuition to recently arrived, high school students whose first language is not English. In addition to intensive English tuition, the IECs and the IEHS provide orientation, settlement and welfare programs to prepare students for learning in a NSW public high school and participation in Australian society.

Newly arrived students from language backgrounds other than English who present for enrolment in high school should be referred to an IEC or the IEHS for assessment and possible enrolment.

Recently arrived Year 6 students may transfer from a primary school to an IEC or the IEHS to prepare for entry to high school the following year. These students must be 11 years of age by 31 July in the year of enrolment. For more information, including IEC and IEHS contact details, visit Intensive English Centres.

Language high schools

Our language high schools provide specialist language education in combination with the core curriculum prescribed by NESA. Language high schools have specialised language equipment and rooms. They help talented students expand their vocabulary and perfect their pronunciation in a range of different languages.

Secondary College of Languages

The Secondary College of Languages provides a pathway for students to maintain education in their heritage language when that language is not available for study at their own school. Campuses operate on Saturdays and are located across Sydney, and in Newcastle and Wollongong.

Approximately 3,000 Years 5 to 12 students follow NESA syllabuses in 23 languages. These subjects are assessed as part of their Stage 5 and HSC studies.

Visit Secondary College of Languages for enrolment forms.

Sports high schools

Our sports high schools provide opportunities for students to achieve sporting and academic excellence. Sports high schools offer flexible educational programs which are supportive of students' training and competition commitments. Talented students study the core curriculum prescribed by NESA as they pursue their chosen sport. These schools also offer specialised training facilities and fields to help students excel.

There are 7 department sports high schools in NSW:

  • Endeavour Sports High School
  • Hunter Sports High School
  • Illawarra Sports High School
  • Matraville Sports High School
  • Narrabeen Sports High School
  • The Hills Sports High School
  • Westfields Sports High School.

Search for more information about each sports high school by Using the School Finder

Technology high schools

Technology high schools focus on the use and application of technology across a range of fields, including a rural context.

In addition to the core subjects prescribed by NESA, students can study specialist technology subjects to help prepare them for the changing needs of today's society.

Selective high schools

NSW public schools offer a range of opportunities for gifted and talented students including selective high schools.

  • Students sit a placement test to gain entry to a fully or partially selective high school in Year 7
  • Students applying for placement to a selective high school for Years 8 to 12 follow assessment and enrolment procedures.

For more information, visit selective high schools and opportunity classes.

Further information

To learn more, visit:

To find a school, use the school finder.


  • School operations
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