If you’ve had a child in the Australian school system for some time, chances are you’ve heard about Selective High Schools.
Maybe you’ve seen announcements in online school bulletins, overheard conversations between proud parents at soccer games, or your own child has given you updates on friends with plans to sit the highly anticipated test.
One way or another, you’ve been given a taste of what Selective High Schools are about – supporting academically gifted students. However, it is more than that. It takes a certain type of student to thrive in a Selective High School environment. Giftedness is not enough on its own.
There are many gifted and high achieving students who choose not to apply to attend a Selective High School, for various reasons. There are also students who apply, attend, and realise that it is not the ideal environment for their learning.
So, how do you know whether a Selective High School is the right fit for your child? In this blog, we cover 5 key indicators to observe in your child to help you determine whether it is the right environment for your child’s high school years.
Let’s start with a recap on the purpose of Selective High Schools.
What is a Selective High School?
Selective High Schools seek to provide a stimulating environment for dynamic and ambitious students who are excelling academically. These schools provide admission to students based on merit, with a special entrance examination. This exam is known as the Selective High School Placement Test.
The Placement Test measures English (writing and reading comprehension), mathematics (reasoning skills), and thinking skills.
Beyond the Placement Test, parents and students will need to also consider the learning environment offered by Selective High Schools and whether the student has the right characteristics to thrive in this context.
Indicators to look for in your child
To determine whether a Selective High School environment is a good fit for your child, look for these 5 indicators:
1. They’re advanced in their learning
Does your child learn with ease? Do they describe what they are currently learning in school as “too easy”? These are signs that your child is advanced in their learning compared to their peers. A Selective High School would give them the opportunity to learn advanced content more suited to their academic level.
2. They’re bored in the classroom
Though boredom is not always an indicator of giftedness (see blog My child is bored at school. Are they gifted? Or is the bar too low?), it could be a sign that your child needs a more stimulating learning environment. Selective High Schools can transform your gifted child from disengaged to highly motivated.
3. They’re competitive and success-driven
This is a key indicator to pay attention to and perhaps a reason why some gifted students decide not to apply for a Selective High School. To attend a Selective High School means learning in a highly competitive environment where students are fuelled by competition and achieving the top scores. If your child is competitive in nature, they are likely to love it. If not, a Selective High School may not be the right choice for them.
4. They’re self-motivated and disciplined
If your child has no trouble motivating themselves to achieve a goal, pursuing it with focus and commitment, this is a positive indicator in favour of a Selective High School. Unlike some other school environments, there is no hand-holding at a Selective High School. Students are expected to be pro-active in their learning and remain dedicated to high performance.
5. They’re persistent and resilient
We all face setbacks in life. How does your child deal with those setbacks? Do they wallow in self-pity and give up or do they re-gain motivation to keep trying? If it is the latter, that is a good sign for Selective High School education. To succeed in this environment, your child will need to be willing to work hard to achieve their goals and know how to deal with failure in a productive way.
Next steps to take
If your child demonstrates less than 4 of the indicators, then you may want to re-consider whether perusing Selective High School entrance is the right choice for them. Remember, you want to position your child in an optimal environment that meets their learning needs.
If you read through the 5 indicators and said to yourself “that’s my child!” then you have already taken the first step.
Next, have a conversation with your child to see whether they’re interested in attending a Selective High School. Support this conversation with research on Selective High Schools in your area so that you and your child understand what these schools offer. Then, consider which school may be the best fit for your child by looking at the type of school, location, HSC ranking and entry scores.
For more information about the Selective High School application process, read Everything you need to know about the Selective Placement Test process.