Where you live in Sydney influences whether you apply to a selective school

Dhall said those living east of Strathfield would be more likely to choose private school, while for struggling parents in west Sydney selective school is a limited way of securing what is perceived as superior education.

“When people are trying to change their social environment and a private school is too expensive, then a high-performing selective school seems to be the best option,” he said.

Mani Beeram, 11, takes the selective school exam on Thursday.

Mani Beeram, 11, takes the selective school exam on Thursday.Credit: Brook Mitchell

Among those set to take the test tomorrow will be Mani Beeram, 11, from the Dundas Valley in north-west Sydney. Her father, Raghu Beeram, said he wanted his daughter to pass the test in hopes of progressing to secondary school with other bright kids.

“When it comes to the HSC, I’ve been told that the entire cohort has to do well to improve the kid’s score,” he said.

Mani has enjoyed practicing for the thinking skills component of the test but said she had been offered a place at a private school so she is not particularly intimidated by the exam, which will take place from 9am to 1pm tomorrow .

“I’m a little nervous … but I’m not as nervous as my friends. This is the moment that practically decides her life,” she said.


The selective high school placement test has recently undergone significant changes – last year the previous government introduced its equity placement model, reserving 20 per cent of places for children from low socioeconomic backgrounds, Aboriginal students, people with disabilities and students from rural and remote areas. In 2021, a thinking skills component was added to the test to make it less trainable. More places are expected to be made available after a new selective high school is planned for Leppington.

A plan to do away with pen-and-paper exams and take the test online was supposed to come into effect in 2022 but has been pushed back to 2025. Foreign students can also register for the test after it has been offered online.

Last year, 4248 places were available in select high schools across NSW for entry into Year 7 in 2023.


Jae Yup Jung, associate professor of gifted education at the University of NSW, said parents in different parts of Sydney have different social and cultural attitudes. He said parents of gifted children in regional parts of the state may not even be aware that selective schooling is an option.

“I’m sure there will be a lot of students who might not even have thought about selective schools,” he said.

He supports the equity model adopted last year, but said another way to identify more gifted children might be to use NAPLAN scores, or an assessment that every student in the state has completed, not just those who take the test passed.

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Justin Scaccy

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