Comment – Selective Schools 12th January 2018

Comment: Should Australia Provide Stand Alone Selective Schools for Students who are Academically Gifted?


Every child in Australia has a right to attend a school that meets their learning, social and emotional needs. For the child that is academically gifted, it is essential that they have access to a school environment that fosters their abilities in a nurturing and caring setting.

A search of the research literature on gifted education tells us children who are academically gifted benefit from:

  • Being clustered together,
  • Being provided with a fast-paced challenging curriculum,
  • Have access to a range of strategies including acceleration, telescoping and access to mentors,
  • Teachers who know how to cater for their abilities and
  • Teachers and counsellors who are experienced in supporting the diverse needs of the whole-child.

Across Australia schools try to meet the needs of gifted children in many ways. In our larger cities gifted children often have the choice to sit an entry exam to attend a specialist gifted program or choose to attend their local comprehensive school. These specialist schools that are essential to the academic success and well-being of some of our gifted children continue to be under threat.

Recent media articles in the Sydney Morning Herald and Daily Telegraph newspapers have posed questions about the stand alone selective schools in NSW. There are limited places, there is the question whether the entry exam selects the gifted students with the highest potential or whether many hours of tutoring is distorting the result, and now a proposal to convert some of the schools to combination comprehensive and selective schools due to overcrowding in local area schools.

Selective schools in NSW have created choice, opportunity, academic excellence and success for thousands of students in the decades they have been operating. Parents, pleased with their own positive individual experiences in a selective school, encourage their children to sit the entry exams and become part of these school communities.

Stand alone selective schools in NSW create places of learning and community that meet the needs of the gifted and talented students in them. Teachers and principals of selective schools have worked tirelessly and diligently to design and implement curricula and programs that elicits the highest performance and outcome for these students.

Stand-alone selective schools, and other forms of selective schools for academically gifted students have been, are today and should continue into the future to be one of the choices in our public school system for gifted students.


12th January 2018