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A selective school is a school that admits students on the basis of some sort of selection criteria, usually academic. The term may have different connotations in different systems. The opposite is a comprehensive school, which accepts all students, regardless of aptitude. The split between selective and comprehensive education is mainly seen at secondary level; primary education is rarely selective. At the university level, selection is almost universal, though some institutions practice open admissions or open-door enrollment allowing students to attend regardless of prior qualification.


New South Wales[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Selective school (New South Wales).

In New South Wales, selective high schools are government schools that select students on the basis of academic ability. Most students enter a selective high school in Year 7, after sitting the Selective High Schools Test in the previous year. The process of entering selective schools is much like that of a university, with students electing their preferences and being chosen for schools based on their performance on the Selective High Schools Test.[1]


In Victoria, Australia, selective high schools select all of their students based on an entrance examination. As of 2011 there are four selective schools: Melbourne High School, Mac.Robertson Girls' High School, Nossal High School and Suzanne Cory High School.[2] In addition there are 2 special schools namely Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, John Monash Science School which cater to students opting for focused education in Arts and Science respectively.


In Queensland, selective high schools are both private and public. Most private high schools are selective based on interviews, primary school grades and other considerations. In 2005, the then Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie announced as part of the Smart State Strategy the creation of the Queensland Academies "as an innovative alternative educational program for high achieving high school students."[3] There are currently three Queensland Academies for students Years 10 to 12 and all study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.

The Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology (QASMT) at Toowong was opened in 2007. It has a partnership with the University of Queensland at St Lucia.

the Queensland Academy for Creative Industries (QACI) at Kelvin Grove opened in 2007. It has a partnership with the Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries Precinct at Kelvin Grove.

The Queensland Academy for Health Sciences opened on the Gold Coast (QAHS) in 2008. It has a partnership with Griffith University at the Gold Coast.

Western Australia[edit]

Perth Modern School was established as the first government senior secondary school in Western Australia in 1911, and selection from 1912 was by scholarship. In 1958 Perth Modern School ceased to be an academically selective school. In 2007 Perth Modern School reverted to its original concept of being a fully academic selective school concurrent with the selective music and ballet programmes. By 2011 all attending students were academically selected.

There are also several partially selective schools such as Shenton College

United Kingdom[edit]

Most schools in the UK are now comprehensive schools, which are non-selective. However there are still 164 grammar schools in several counties of England, which select pupils either on the basis of an Eleven Plus examination, by an internally set and moderated examination, or by both. There are a number of selective schools in Scotland and Wales, some of ancient foundation.

Some formerly Grant Maintained schools were selective by means of exams, tests, interviews; or a combination of all three. Two notable examples of highly selective Grant Maintained schools were The John Fisher School in Surrey and The London Oratory School in Fulham, London.

These Local Education Authorities continue to maintain a fully selective education system:

Several other LEAs have a mainly non-selective system but a few selective schools exist alongside their comprehensive counterparts, these are; Barnet, Birmingham, Bromley, Calderdale, Cumbria, Devon, Enfield, Essex, Gloucestershire, Kirklees, Lancashire, Liverpool, North Yorkshire, Plymouth, Redbridge, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Wolverhampton, Telford and The Wrekin.

There are also a smaller number of partially selective schools in England.

In Northern Ireland, a similar system of grammar schools is being dismantled by the Northern Ireland Education Order, which is going through Westminster.

United States[edit]

Selective schools in the United States are typically high school level, and are often also specialized schools. In New York, students must take the competitive Specialized High Schools Admissions Test prior to possible admittance to one of the schools. Though many selective schools are of the high school level, there are also schools which provide to lower aged students. One example is the Logan School for Creative Learning in Colorado which admits students 1st-8th grade mainly by IQ testing.[citation needed]


The German public school system is fundamentally selective after four or six years of elementary school. The selective Gymnasium (grades 5 or 7 through 12) is supposed to prepare pupils for university. Some federal states allow parents a free choice of school, however. The German Realschule is also a selective school, though with lower requirements, ending at grade 10.

The pros and cons of a selective school system are a constant issue in discussions about German schools, while many parents take strong efforts to make their children attend Gymnasium.

Attendance of Gymnasium had strongly increased in the second part of the 20th century to the majority of pupils in many areas. As consequently, mainly pupils with rather low aptitudes remained for the non-selective Hauptschule, traditionally the third main tier (and originally the main tier) of the German school system, some German federal states have abolished the three-tier system in favor of a combination of Realschule and Hauptschule, starting about 1997. Such non-selective schools are called differently, e.g. "advanced Realschule" or the "Realschule Plus", Sekundarschule or Integrierte Sekundarschule.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ NSW Selective High Schools: Year 7 placement
  2. ^ http://www.education.vic.gov.au/aboutschool/enrolling/selectentry/default.htm
  3. ^ Queensland Academies history

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36 news items

Christian Science Monitor

Yahoo News
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 13:26:15 -0700

Many researchers have argued that students should consider attending the most selective school they can get into, partly because these schools do a better job of getting their students across the finish line. But “there's not some kind of secret sauce ...
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 09:20:05 -0700

... there is little to no difference in future earnings between those attending an “elite school” (ex: University of Pennsylvania or Williams College) and those attending a “moderately selective school” (ex: Penn State or Miami University of Ohio ...
Above the Law
Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:37:30 -0700

... there is little to no difference in future earnings between those attending an “elite school” (ex: University of Pennsylvania or Williams College) and those attending a “moderately selective school” (ex: Penn State or Miami University of Ohio ...

New York Times

New York Times
Thu, 31 Jul 2014 04:00:54 -0700

Tuition and fees at St. George's come to $246,400 for four years, compared with $190,500 at Albert Einstein, the highly selective school Ms. Vidulich had hoped to attend. Average federal loan debt in 2012 was $220,000 for St. George's students, $191 ...
Wed, 06 Aug 2014 07:56:24 -0700

“[CPS] took a neighborhood building and turned it into a private selective school,” Vega told DNAinfo Chicago, in tears at the mention of her former neighborhood school. "How is it good for the community when not everyone can have the opportunity?".

Berwick Today

Berwick Today
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 07:24:50 -0700

“As a non-selective school we consistently send many students to Russell Group universities, but also we still encourage applications to other institutions which have the right courses on offer,” Mr Manning said. “The high success rate of students ...
La Jolla Light
Tue, 05 Aug 2014 16:37:30 -0700

Some complained that such a selective school-choice policy would be unfair to other families attempting to attend the top-ranked schools — La Jolla High, Muirlands Middle and Bird Rock, La Jolla and Torrey Pines elementary schools. District officials ...

Harrogate Advertiser

Harrogate Advertiser
Thu, 14 Aug 2014 03:36:07 -0700

Students at Gateways School in Harewood are celebrating after an impressive set of A2 results. Gateways School Headmistress, Dr Tracy Johnson said, “As a non-selective school we are thrilled to have a pass rate of 100 per cent and are especially ...

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