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Is a Selective School Right for My Child?

What is a selective school?

A selective high school is a government school with more attention on academic excellence.

Students must sit the Selective School Entrance Test (SSET) to get into a selective school. This is highly competitive and tests a student’s academic capabilities. Less than 30% of applicants are typically offered a place. 

Types of selective schools

There are five different types of selective schools:

  1. Fully selective high schools
    • There are currently 22 of these in NSW. 
    • All classes are academically selective.
    • Best if you value Academic Environment.
  2. Partially selective high schools
    • There are 24 of these in NSW at the moment. 
    • Only some classes are academically selective.
    • Best for diversity and cultural exposure. 
  3. Agricultural selective high schools
    • Only 2 in NSW: James Ruse Agricultural High School and Hurlstone Agricultural High School
    • Emphasise the study of agriculture.
    • Best for children with rural backgrounds and agricultural study
  4. Aurora College
    • Virtual High School for rural students in years 7-10
  5. Conservatorium High School
    • Specific focus on music. 
    • Entrance includes SSET and Music Audition. 
    • Best for Music and creative arts. 

Selective Schools vs Private Schools

People consider selective schools for the academic excellence they offer. They also offer incredible opportunities for gifted students especially. However, most selective schools are limited in their sports and creative arts opportunities. Most are also usually not very culturally diverse. 

Meanwhile, private schools are also known to excel in HSC rankings. They also are notorious for offering students endless opportunities in creative and performing arts, sports as well as international and leadership opportunities. 

In light of this, you may find yourself questioning, “Should I send my child to a selective school or a private school?” Yes, there is an obvious difference in fees, however, it is important to note that private schools offer a range of scholarships based on academic performance as well as other factors such as music. 

Essentially it comes down to your child and your family. If your child has passions in areas other than academics and has shown interest in international opportunities, for example, it is likely that a private school will be able to enrich your child more. However, if your child thrives on academics and needs to be encouraged by like-minded peers who will push him or her towards their goals, then a selective school will likely be a better fit. 

Choosing your top 3 selective schools

You have decided that a selective school is best for your child, now you need to narrow it down to specific selective schools and begin the application process. The application involves sitting the test and choosing three schools you wish to apply to, this section aims to help you choose those top three schools. 

Here are a few key factors to consider:

  • Which type of selective school? 
    • Take another look at the breakdown above to see which type or school best aligns with your values. 
  • Single-sex or Coed?
    • Single-sex high schools allow for gender-targeted learning and extracurricular activities as well as fewer distractions. 
    • Co-ed high schools provide more perspective in discussions and classes, more real-world preparation, and promote socialisation between genders. 
  • Location
    • Selective schools do not have catchment areas, but you still wouldn’t want your child commuting for hours each day, especially if they have after or before school activities. 
  • Ranking and Entrance Score
    • While selective schools that have the highest HSC rankings usually have the highest university entrance scores as well, this isn’t always the case. Some partially selective schools have much higher entrance scores than expected based on their HSC rankings. 

For more information about selective schools or for help preparing for a Selective School Entrance Test, give TutorTime a call! 

Have questions or need help?

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