Education options in NSW
While the broad range of schooling options currently open to parents reflects a well-developed and thriving educational system, the choices can be a little overwhelming. Here, we explain all available educational options and school types in NSW to help parents with their decision.
The choice within the NSW public school system has greatly increased in recent years. Your child is automatically entitled to a place in their local high school, but you can also apply for a place at non-local high schools, such as single-gender, specialist, selective, sports or agricultural high schools. You can potentially take advantage of increased specialisation in the public education system.
Some restrictions do apply. Students from outside a school’s designated local enrolment area can be offered a place only if space permits after local students have been accommodated. Additionally, schools such as selective and agricultural high schools have special enrolment criteria based on academic merit.
Selective and agricultural schools
Currently in NSW, there are 17 fully selective schools, four selective agricultural high schools, 25 high schools with selective classes and a virtual selective class provision (Western NSW Region).
The aim of selective high schools is to provide a scholastically challenging environment for more academically able students. The usual range of subjects is taught at these schools, but they are geared towards the needs of gifted and talented students. Partially selective high schools offer both selective classes and community-based classes. Students gain places at selective schools by competing academically with other prospective students.
There are differing opinions on the benefits of selective schools. Some education experts argue that talented children should be educated with their intellectual peers, thus benefiting from the intellectual stimulation this grouping provides. Others argue for the comprehensive system, claiming students benefit more from a wider range of mixed abilities and attitudes.
Qualifying for a selective school
Entry into these schools is determined by the student’s results in the Selective High School Placement Test in English (including reading and writing), mathematics and general ability, together with their primary school’s assessment of their performance in English and mathematics. Other evidence of academic merit may also be considered.
Parents wishing to apply on behalf of their child for Year 7 can do so online via the NSW Public Schools website, schools.nsw.edu.au. Students throughout the state sit for the Selective High School Placement Test in designated test centres on a specified date. Applications and results are considered by a selection committee, which will also take into account circumstances where a child has a sensory or physical disability or is from a non-English-speaking background.
Agricultural high schools are selective high schools that specialise in agricultural studies. Students wishing to enrol in day places at agricultural high schools are selected in much the same way as those in selective high schools. Boarding places for all years are offered at Hurlstone (boarding and day), Yanco (boarding only) and Farrer Memorial (boarding and day). Hurlstone and Yanco are both co-educational while Farrer accepts boys only. Offers of boarding placements in agricultural high schools take students’ geographic isolation and their ability to cope in a boarding situation into consideration.
For more information about selective schools, consult your government primary school principal or phone the Selective High School and Opportunity Class Placement Unit on 02 9707 6262 or your regional office on 13 15 36.
Selective high schools
- Baulkham Hills High
- Caringbah High
- Fort Street High
- Girraween High
- Gosford High School
- Hornsby Girls High
- Merewether High
- Normanhurst Boys High
- Northern Beaches Secondary College, Manly Campus
- North Sydney Boys High
- North Sydney Girls High
- Penrith High
- Smiths Hill High
- St George Girls High
- Sydney Boys High
- Sydney Girls High
- Sydney Technical High
High schools with selective classes
- Alexandria Park Community School
- Armidale High, Armidale
- Auburn Girls High
- Blacktown Boys High
- Blacktown Girls High
- Bonnyrigg High School
- Chatswood High School
- Duval High, Armidale
- Elizabeth Macarthur High
- Gorokan High School
- Grafton High, Grafton
- Granville Boys High School
- Karabar High, Queanbeyan
- Kooringal High, Wagga Wagga
- Macquarie Fields High School
- Moorebank High School
- Parramatta High School
- Peel High School, Tamworth
- Prairiewood High School
- Rose Bay Secondary College
- Ryde Secondary College
- Sefton High School
- Sydney Secondary College, Balmain Campus
- Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay Campus
- Sydney Secondary College, Leichhardt Campus
- Tempe High School
Agricultural high schools
- Farrer Memorial Agricultural
- High School, Tamworth
- Hurlstone Agricultural High School, Glenfield
- James Ruse Agricultural High School, Carlingford
- Yanco Agricultural High School, Yanco
- Sports high schools
Specialist high schools teach the NSW Board of Studies core curriculum while also placing emphasis on a particular area of learning. This type of school may be beneficial for your child if they show talent for and wish to specialise in the area of creative arts, performing arts, sports, technology or languages. A sports high school, for example, maybe suitable for your child if they show the potential to reach elite sports level.
Creative and performing arts high schools provide opportunities for students to pursue excellence within these fields while studying the core curriculum prescribed by the Board of Studies. These schools offer a specialised environment. They have performance and creative spaces, lighting and sound systems, dance studios and specialist teachers.
Each school’s facilities are tailored to the particular area of specialty. Entry to a specialist school is based on the student meeting certain criteria. For entry to a performing arts school, for example, the application process may include an audition.
Distance education centres are also part of the network of specialist high schools.
For further information, go to schools.nsw.edu.au/schoolfind/types/index.php
Sports high schools
- Endeavour Sports High School
- The Hills Sports High School
- Hunter Sports High School
- Illawarra Sports High School
- Matraville Sports High School
- Narrabeen Sports High School
- Westfields Sports High School
Creative and performing arts high schools
- Campbelltown Performing Arts High School
- Conservatorium High School
- Granville South Creative and Performing Arts High School
- Hunter School of the Performing Arts
- Ku-ring-gai Creative Arts High School
- Nepean High School for the Creative and Performing Arts
- Newtown High School of the Performing Arts
- Northmead Creative and Performing Arts High School
- Wollongong High School of the Performing Arts
Technology high schools
There are specialist technology high schools covering technology, rural technology and marine technology.
Technology high schools have a whole-school focus on technology across all Key Learning Areas. Students learn to select and use a wide range of technologies. An emphasis is placed on the impact of technology on the environment and society. This is not at the exclusion of any subject areas. These schools all offer a comprehensive curriculum but there is a commitment to using and fostering an understanding of new technologies in all areas of study.
Language high schools
Language high schools are comprehensive high schools that provide students with an opportunity to study at least two languages other than English. They ensure continuity of study to the Higher School Certificate. A flexible curriculum allows some students to undertake in-depth language study for an extended period and/or to study more than one language.
Language high schools develop and implement innovative methods of teaching languages and offer assistance to other schools in this field.
Language high schools do not offer all languages and many specialise in only a few. However, where there is student interest in languages not available at the school, students may apply to study the language through The Open High School or the Saturday School of Community Languages.
Of course, substantial language programs are also provided by many other schools, both government and non-government. Some schools provide opportunities to study languages spoken by significant numbers of the student population.
Languages high schools
- Blakehurst High School
- Kirrawee High School
- Prairiewood High School
- Strathfield Girls High School
- Tempe High School
A multi-campus college comprises a number of campuses that work together as a single educational entity across a number of separate sites. Each campus is usually specialised in the sense that it targets the needs and interests of a particular group of students. For example, junior secondary campuses are designed to support the learning needs of young adolescents, while senior secondary campuses are designed to provide a more adult learning environment for post-compulsory students. A number of multi-campus colleges are co-located with TAFE and university campuses.
Brisbane Water Secondary College
Woy Woy Campus
Waratah Technology Campus
Mount Druitt Campus
Georges River College
Hurstville Boys Campus
Oatley Senior Campus
Penshurst Girls Campus
Great Lakes College
Tuncurry Junior Campus
Tuncurry Senior Campus
Moree Secondary College
Albert St Campus
Carol Ave Campus
Nirimba Collegiate Group
Quakers Hill High School
Riverstone High School
Seven Hills High School
Northern Beaches Secondary College
Balgowlah Boys Campus
Freshwater Senior Campus
Mackellar Girls Campus
Sydney Secondary College
Blackwattle Bay Campus
Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College
Berkeley Vale Campus
The Entrance Campus
Tumbi Umbi Campus
Walgett Community College
Rural and distance education
The Department of Education has distance education provisions in place to deliver full-time educational programs to students who are isolated or whose special circumstances prevent them from attending school on a regular basis. Single-subject (Years 9 to 12) programs are also provided to specific categories of students. Schools in remote areas are also given support through the NSW Country Areas Program (CAP). Distance education provision is available from 16 locations across the state.
- Bourke Walgett School of Distance Education (4644) — Bourke Campus
- Bourke Walgett School of Distance Education (4644) — Walgett Campus
- North East Public School of Distance Education (4643) — Casino Campus
- North East Public School of Distance Education (4643) — Port Macquarie Campus
- Queanbeyan Public School (2922)
- School of the Air (5302) — Broken Hill Campus
- School of the Air (5302) — Hay Campus
- Sydney Distance Education Primary School (4586)
- Tibooburra Outback School of the Air (3211)
- Camden Haven High School (4428)
- Karabar High School (8524)
- Open High School (8588)
- Sydney Distance Education High School (8587) K–12
- Distance Education Support Unit — Sir Eric Woodward Memorial School (special education) (5675)
- Dubbo School of Distance Education (P–12) (4587)
- Southern Cross School (4428)
Saturday School of Community Languages
Saturday School of Community Languages teaches languages to students from government and non-government secondary schools or from TAFE HSC programs who wish to study their background community language to Record of School Achievement (RoSA) and Higher School Certificate levels but are unable to do so at their home school. Courses are available in 24 languages at Higher School Certificate level. These include Arabic, Armenian, Bengali (Bangla), Bosnian, Chinese, Croatian, Dutch, Filipino, Hindi, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Macedonian, Modern Greek, Maltese, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese. A Bosnian class is also on offer at Liverpool Girls High. There are approximately 3400 students enrolled in the Saturday school in Years 7 to 12 at the following campuses:
- Arthur Phillip High School
- Ashfield Boys High School
- Bankstown Girls High School
- Birrong Boys High School
- Birrong Girls High School
- Chatswood High School
- Dulwich High
- Kogarah High
- Liverpool Boys High School
- Liverpool Girls High School
- Merewether High School
- Randwick North High School
- St George Girls High School
- Strathfield Girls High School
- Smiths Hill High School
- The Hills Sports High School
The Saturday School of Community Languages can be contacted on 02 7814 2115, email@example.com or saturdaycl-h.schools.nsw.gov.au
Secondary Intensive English Centres and the Intensive English High School
Newly arrived secondary-aged students requiring intensive English as a Second Language (ESL) support in metropolitan Sydney and Wollongong may be able to enrol in an Intensive English Centre (IEC) or the Intensive English High School (IEHS) before transferring to high school.
IECs and the IEHS provide intensive ESL tuition to recently arrived, high-school-aged students whose first language is not English. The IECs/IEHS provide English language, orientation, settlement and welfare programs to prepare students for study in a NSW high school. To be eligible for enrolment in an IEC/IEHS, students must be of high school age and meet eligibility requirements relating to the need for intensive ESL support, and will need to provide the date of arrival in Australia and residency status. In certain cases, Year 6 students may transfer from a primary school to an IEC/IEHS to prepare for entry to high school the following year.
In rural and regional areas where there is no IEC, newly arrived ESL students enrol in their local school where they may be eligible to receive additional short-term ESL support.
Senior high schools
Senior high schools are comprehensive high schools that cater exclusively for senior students from Years 10 or 11 to 12. As the focus in these schools is on senior students, they are able to develop and employ more flexible and innovative curriculum timetabling arrangements to suit the needs of young adults.
Senior high schools offer a more adult learning environment than most other high schools. Students are given opportunities and support as they develop maturity and independence. Some of the best features of tertiary-style, independent learning are combined with the more supportive, welfare-oriented secondary education culture.
In terms of curriculum, a focus on the senior years allows senior high schools to deliver a wider range of courses in the senior domain, including special accreditation arrangements with TAFE and industry. Senior high schools in Sydney and surrounds include:
- Bankstown Senior College
- Bradfield College
- Brisbane Water Secondary College, Woy Woy campus
- Callaghan College, Jesmond Senior Campus
- Chifley College Senior Campus
- Coffs Harbour Senior College
- Georges River College, Oatley Senior Campus
- Illawarra Senior College
- Northern Beaches Secondary College, Freshwater Senior Campus
- St Marys Senior High
- Sydney Secondary College, Blackwattle Bay Campus
- Wyndham College, Nirimba Collegiate Group
Trade schools are designed to link schools with industry and TAFE to tackle skills shortages. Currently, 26 trade schools are open for enrolments in NSW. About half of these will be based in existing high schools and provided with upgraded industry-standard facilities. The other half will consist of school-TAFE partnerships using existing TAFE facilities.
Students in trade schools will have the option of undertaking a school-based apprenticeship, a school-based traineeship or other vocational course while completing their HSC. Students will have access to specialist industry-standard facilities.
Students will also have access to new industry support services that will place them in jobs to complete their training. Industry and the local economy benefit from having more job-ready graduates able to take on work in key skills-shortage areas. For more information, visit education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/career-learning-and-vet.
Today, the number of non-government schools is almost as numerous as the number of religious affiliations that abound. You can choose to send your child to a traditional Protestant church school, traditional independent school, Catholic systemic school, Catholic independent school, Jewish school, Greek Orthodox school, Muslim school … the list goes on.
As well as the non-government schools associated with particular religious groups, there are many non-religious alternative education schools such as the Montessori and Steiner schools.
Non-government schools must operate within certain legislated boundaries irrespective of their religious affiliation, educational philosophy and methods. The BOSTES is responsible for monitoring the compliance of non-government schools with the registration and accreditation requirements of the Education Act 1990. Registration is a non-government school’s licence to operate under the Act.
Accreditation authorises a non-government school to present candidates for the Record of School Achievement (RoSA) and/or Higher School Certificate. All schools are required to teach the NSW syllabus.
The Commonwealth and state governments each provide per-capita grants and other assistance to non-government schools to help meet their costs. The level of that support varies between schools. The balance must be made up by the schools through fees and other forms of fundraising, which may be a determining factor in your choice of school.
If you are interested in private education for your child, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with the school and discuss their philosophical and religious rationale. This will provide you with a better idea of how suitable the school is for you and your child.
Traditional independent schools
Although it’s difficult to generalise, it can be said that traditional grammar-type schools base their educational instruction broadly on Christian principles. Generally, the foundation of their education system is the English public school model.
Among the attractive features of most of these schools are their on-site facilities, which are generally of a high standard. All schools in this category tend to have high fees and long waiting lists.
About 20 per cent of students in Australia attend Catholic schools. The first Catholic school was established in 1821 in Sydney’s Parramatta and has grown into a system of approximately 1700 schools nationwide.
Catholic schools are divided into two categories: independent (private colleges run independently by religious congregations) and systemic (a network of parish primary and regional secondary schools that are administered by the Catholic Education Office in each diocese).
The aim of Catholic schools is to commit to the development of the whole person — intellectually, physically, spiritually and socially. The curriculum followed is set by the NSW Board of Studies and focuses on the needs of individual students. Emphasis is placed on the quality of the pastoral care. Catholic schools also strive to provide a meaningful, relevant and comprehensive religious education program. Additionally, they encourage parents to participate in the life of their school.
Catholic schools provide educational opportunities for gifted and talented children, children with handicaps (both physical and intellectual) and children with emotional disturbances through a number of Catholic special schools and within the system.
Fees for systemic schools
The fees charged by Catholic systemic schools are relatively low compared with those of independent Catholic schools. This is partly because of the significant financial support provided by both the Commonwealth and state governments. Other sources of funds are school fees, building and subject levies, parish grants and fundraising by Parents & Friends Associations.
Tuition fees for systemic secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Parramatta in 2020 are:
- Years 7-8 $2190, second child $1644, third child $1095
- Years 9-10 $2430, second child $1824, third child $1215
- Years 11-12 $3102, second child $2328, third child $1551
Sydney Catholic Schools Central Office
38 Renwick Street (PO Box 217),
Leichhardt NSW 2040
Phone: 02 9569 6111
Christian Education National schools
Formerly known as Christian Parent Controlled schools, Christian Education National schools are governed by associations of parents and are non-denominational. In Australia, there are more than 80 schools with a total of 23,000 students, most of them catering for Kindergarten to Year 12. Of these, there are 17 schools in NSW, eight of which are in the greater Sydney area. Each school is as varied as the community it serves.
A key feature of each school is the association’s commitment to maintaining a quality education from a Christian perspective, as well as to keeping the cost at a level that ensures the accessibility of the school to all families who would like a Christian education for their children.
Phone the NSW state coordinator on 02 9671 3311, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit cen.edu.au
There are 48 primary and secondary schools throughout Australia operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, providing Christian education as a service to the community. In NSW, there are nine primary schools and 10 combined primary and secondary schools. Enrolment is open to any student who seeks a positive learning environment with strong Christian values.
All students receive well-balanced academic, physical, social and spiritual development in a caring, well-disciplined environment. The curriculum is constantly reviewed and updated to ensure the needs of all students are well catered for.
Parents are encouraged to become actively involved with trained, professional teachers in a fully accredited, highly resourced facility. A strong pastoral care program provides additional support for students.
School fees are modest when compared with many other independent schools. Special fee assistance programs are available and discounts are provided where more than one child is enrolled. Many schools also offer scholarships.
For more information, visit nnsw.adventist.edu.au
The Steiner Waldorf educational movement was founded in Germany
by Dr Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian scientist, philosopher and educationalist. Steiner’s educational philosophy focuses on the three developmental phases of childhood: imitation (age zero to seven), imagination (seven to 14) and rational judgment (14 to 21).
Steiner schools facilitate this philosophy in their teaching and use interactive teaching methods that incorporate an experiential and multi-sensory approach to learning. The schools’ curricula focus on the appropriate abilities of children based on their age. They aim to balance academic achievement with the development of physical, artistic and social skills.
All Steiner schools are co-educational and non-denominational and are run by
a college of teachers, not a principal.
Home education, home schooling, “unschooling”, natural learning, home-based learning — however you describe it, home schooling essentially means education by parents. Parents or guardians who are home schooling a child are responsible for developing, implementing and accessing their child’s educational program. Registration with the BOSTES is a legal requirement for home schooling while a child is of compulsory school age and not enrolled at school. In recent years, there has been a marked rise in parents choosing this path.
The reasons parents choose home schooling for their children vary greatly. Some parents may prefer to tailor education programs to the needs, abilities and learning style of their child or to pass on their family’s ethical or religious values through day-to-day education. Some parents may wish to avoid the potential challenges of school-based education, such as bullying and learning in large classes. Many parents of students who are particularly gifted in a certain area will also choose to home educate.
Learning difficulties have also emerged as strong grounds for the decision to home educate. Home education allows students to be educated gently and appropriately by those who have their best interests at heart: their parents.
This can also be a temporary option leading to reintegration back into school
at a later date.
Resources and information
Home schooling is officially legal in Australia, although legislation on home education differs for each state. In NSW, parents must register with the BOSTES as the educator of their child.
For detailed information on the requirements for home schooling, visit boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/home-schooling/index.html and download a detailed home schooling package.
Home Education Association Inc
This association offers information, networks, resources and education guidelines at hea.edu.au
The Home Education Association Courses for Parents in Home Schooling cover how people learn, brain functionality, child development, program writing, resources, research in home schooling, approaches to home schooling, registration and legalities.
Almost all secondary schools in NSW offer Vocational Education and Training (VET) as part of their curriculum. VET courses are delivered at school and at TAFE colleges. These courses provide students with access to nationally recognised vocational qualifications, which are part of their HSC pattern of study, and prepare students for employment or a pathway into further education and training.
News & Advice
Four tips to finance your child’s quality education
We all want to do the best by our children and send them to the best school possible.
One that meets their individual needs, aligns with our own values, and provides activities that nourishes your child’s aspirations can often seem like looking for a diamond in the rough – and that diamond, unfortunately, can cost quite a lot.
Though some of us may be fortunate to live in an applicable public school catchment area, where school fees are relatively affordable compared with top-tier private schools, for many, sending children to a desirable school will cost a significant amount in terms of school fees.
How can you get ahead of the expenses? We have four ways to make sure you can get the funds you need for your children’s education.
Start early: establish a long-term savings account
If you’re considering kids – or maybe your kids are still crawling around – it pays to establish a long-term savings account or long-term term deposit to ensure you have the funds when your children reach school age. You may also want to defer private school education until your child reaches high school – which gives you another seven years to save for the school of your choice.
Buy in a school catchment zone
Quality schools aren’t necessarily all privately run. Mount Barker South Primary School in South Australia changed its culture in 2010 and enrolments surged to over 1000 in 2018, which is remarkable for a school that usually has under 200 students at any given time. If you buy in a school catchment zone, this guarantees a place for your child at that high-performing public school; families outside the zone are put onto waiting lists.
Consider a student loan
One way to finance private education is through a student loan. These types of loans are not tied to an asset, like a car loan is tied to a car. Parents or caregivers may choose to take out a personal student loan on behalf of students under the age of 18. If you are over 18 and a parent of a student and earning some form of income, you may be eligible for a specialised student loan.
Bill Tsouvalas, managing director of Savvy, and loan expert says these loans can be flexible to pay for tuition fees, textbooks, or living expenses, if your school of choice is a boarding school.
“Depending on your income and your financial standing, you can borrow from $2000 all the way up to $100,000,” he says. “Most personal loan terms stretch out over five years, so you can spread the payments over that time. You may be able to extend the terms to suit also. Student loans can also have a fixed interest rate, so you know exactly how much each repayment will be in advance.”
Some student loans (subject to fulfilling eligibility criteria) may come with additional features to help you with expenses throughout the term of the loan.
One feature is a redraw facility. This means you can withdraw funds from the loan to pay for sudden expenses such as excursions or activity days. Another similar feature are top-ups. A top-up adds additional funds to the loan for you to spend on whatever education expense you choose.
Live in a cheaper suburb and use the savings on education
Though your child will have to commute a little longer, another option is to buy into a cheaper suburb and use the savings to put toward private education. With private schools accepting students from all over instead of being bound to strict government school catchment zones, you can live further away from the school itself and save money on rent or mortgage repayments which you can then put toward education.
Starting early, taking out finance, or using creative options such as buying in certain zones can ensure your child has the best chance at receiving a quality education.
News & Advice
Making the Transition from Primary to Secondary School
Your child’s move from primary to secondary school is a time of change — not just for the student, who may be more excited than anxious, but also for the parents, who may feel uneasy and concerned about what lies ahead.
As a parent, you can play a huge role in how your child manages the transition from primary to secondary school. However, it is important that you keep any feelings of anxiety to yourself; you want to encourage eagerness and excitement. This transition is a milestone for your child. They are growing and learning and are capable of new challenges and experiences. It is important to focus on that and to use positive language when discussing the move. If they consider starting secondary school as an exciting experience rather than a fearful one, they are likely to find those early weeks far less stressful.
One of the biggest changes for you and your child is the lack of familiarity with the new school surroundings, pupils, teachers and procedures. Coming from a classroom of about 30 students they have probably known for years to an environment with 200 or more students in their year can be disconcerting. Feelings of anonymity can be common as your child goes from being a big fish (Year 6) in a small pond to a small fish (Year 7) in a big pond.
Added to this is the new concept of having several teachers, changing classrooms from lesson to lesson, getting to know the timetable and where they have to be and when. There may also be new transport methods, new pick-up points, new bus timetables and more.
Feelings of nervousness and apprehension are very natural. However, there are many ways you can make all of this easier. First, work with your school. They may already be working with the secondary school and have a transition program in place. The new school may send students or teachers to talk to the primary school students. They will probably also have orientation days arranged where your child will be shown around their new high school.
Students in government secondary schools all participate in an orientation day. All government schools hold orientation on the same day — often the second Tuesday of December. The orientation day may include a school tour, meeting fellow students and teachers, and taking part in special lessons and activities.
Don’t hesitate to communicate directly to the new school, too. They may be happy for you to visit with your child on a second occasion, to walk unguided through the school and work out what is where. They may also have a buddy system in place where they will appoint a more senior student, who is confident and familiar around the school, to help your child during the early days of their enrolment. They will be able to meet face-to-face or chat by email and can be a reassuring contact in a new environment.
Planning ahead can also build familiarity and confidence. On orientation day, take photos on your phone of where your child needs to go for certain classes. Sit down and discuss the new timetable and how it works. Laminate a copy for your child and keep one for yourself so you can run through it with them each evening and check that they have what they need in their bag for the next day. Find out if any friends of the family who your child is familiar with go to the school. Ring them and arrange to reacquaint them with your child before the start of the new school year. This will provide a ready-made support system. If necessary, do a trial run of new transport arrangements so your child knows what bus or train to catch, where and at what time.
Greater academic demands may also be worrying for your child as there is a perceived increase in competitiveness in secondary school. Putting some time aside each evening to help your child establish good study habits during the first few weeks and months will pay off as demands increase in later years. Now is also the time to begin establishing a good working relationship with your child’s teachers. You may also want to get involved with the school’s Parents and Citizens Association.
High school is also a period of great social change for your child, so it’s really important to keep the lines of communication open. Encourage your child to talk about their friends and help them establish or strengthen friendships and to resolve issues. Try organising out-of-school social get-togethers and outings. Invite friends to the house or organise to go to the park or the movies, so that you get to know your child’s friends. Above all, remember that your child’s journey to secondary school is a vital and natural part of their growing up.
News & Advice
Education 2021/2022: The Big Picture
Education regularly undergoes changes, so it’s important to have a thorough understanding of the current educational curriculum, policy and teaching methods when choosing a school for your child. Here’s an overview of what to expect from your child’s years of schooling.
The national curriculum is produced by the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) in consultation with educators. The Australian curriculum sets out the core knowledge, understanding, skills and general capabilities important for all Australian students. It describes the learning entitlement of students as a foundation for their future growth and makes clear what young Australians should learn as they progress through their school years. It is also the foundation for the high-quality teaching required to meet the needs of Australian students.
ACARA developed the Australian curriculum in consultation with states and territories. Education authorities in each state and territory have responsibility for implementation of the Australian curriculum and for supporting schools and teachers.
Changes in 2014 ensure that new Kindergarten to Year 10 syllabuses for English, Mathematics, Science and History are taught in NSW schools. These syllabuses incorporate Australian curriculum content.
In May 2009, a law was passed that increased the school-leaving age from 15 to 17. This law became effective on January 1, 2010, and applies to government, independent and private schooling as well as home schooling. The change was made in response to research that shows children who leave school later are more likely to become employed, earn higher wages and enjoy a better quality of life. The new law applies to children who are younger than 15 on January 1, 2010, and also to students aged between 15 and 17 who completed Year 10 in 2009 or who were registered for home schooling in 2009.
Now that participation is compulsory up to age 17, students must continue to stay at school beyond their Year 10 studies and participate in further education pathways that are approved by the NSW Department of Education or be registered for home schooling. Approved pathways include the Higher School Certificate, TAFE vocational training courses, full-time paid employment or a combination of further education and paid employment.
From Kindergarten to Year 12
A student who has completed Kindergarten to Year 12 will have spent close to 15,000 hours in the education system. Their journey begins in Kindergarten before they are placed in primary school, where children complete seven years of primary education. Students leave primary school when they have completed Year 6 and move on to high school to begin Year 7.
Virtually all students continue their education up to the point when they are first eligible for a Record of School Achievement (normally at around 16 years of age). Most students then go on to complete the Higher School Certificate.
Many HSC graduates further their studies at a tertiary institution, such as a TAFE or university. NSW schools provide a variety of education pathways for students between the time they first become eligible for a Record of School Achievement (RoSA) and when they leave school.
After primary school, there’s a wide selection of secondary schools to which you can apply. The choices include both government and non-government schools or registered home schooling. All children are guaranteed a place in their local government primary and/or high school, but within the government sector you may also choose to apply to a non-local primary or high school, a selective school or a specialised school. This means parents have the opportunity to send their child to a school that best fits their child’s individual needs and abilities.
Under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the Disability Standards for Education 2005, students with disabilities can participate in education on the same basis as other students.
The aim of educational authorities in NSW is to ensure that no student misses out. Hospital schools, community care schools, schools for a specific purpose and schools for deaf and blind children ensure education is available to all students regardless of their educational and physical needs.
Students can access the curriculum in a variety of ways, which may include adjustments to teaching, learning and/or assessment activities. For a small percentage of students with special education needs, particularly those with an intellectual disability, a decision may be made to access Life Skills outcomes and content in one or more subjects. Life Skills courses contribute to a student’s pattern of study for the HSC but do not contribute towards an ATAR.
All decisions regarding curriculum options for students with special education needs should be made in the context of collaborative curriculum planning and include the student and parent/carer.
Students Learning an Additional Language or Dialect (ELA/D)
Many students in Australian schools are learning English as an additional language or dialect (EAL/D). EAL/D learners are students whose first language is a language other than Standard Australian English and who require additional support to help them develop English-language proficiency.
EAL/D students come from diverse backgrounds and may include:
- Overseas- and Australian-born children whose first language is a language
- other than English
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students whose first language is an Indigenous language, including traditional languages
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students whose first language is Aboriginal English, including creoles and related varieties.
EAL/D learners enter Australian schools at different ages and stages of schooling and at different stages of English-language learning. They have diverse talents and capabilities and a range of prior learning experiences and levels of literacy in their first language and in English. EAL/D students represent a significant and growing percentage of learners in NSW schools.
If you live in a remote part of the state, government education is available through resources such as Distance Education Centres. These are located throughout NSW and provide isolated students with a teaching and learning program supplemented with experiences such as satellite lessons and field visits. For those primary and secondary schools in geographically isolated areas that are educationally disadvantaged by their location, Commonwealth funding is provided by the NSW Country Areas Program (CAP). CAP is designed to assist schools and their communities to enhance the learning outcomes and educational opportunities for students in geographically isolated areas.
The early years of schooling
The NSW government operates 100 pre-schools across NSW and many private pre-schools operate across communities. Pre-schools provide educational programs for your child prior to enrolment in Kindergarten.
Kindergarten is the initial year of schooling in NSW. Children who enter Kindergarten in NSW must turn five by 31 July in the year in which they are enrolled. When starting Kindergarten, students in government schools undertake a Best Start Assessment that helps teachers identify the literacy and numeracy skills of the student and enables the teacher to develop learning programs accordingly.
The purpose of the seven years spent in primary school is to promote the development of individual students as well as to lay the basic educational foundations for their effective participation in society. With this objective, primary school teachers provide learning experiences that engage students in a wide variety of interesting and meaningful activities. These enhance the quality of school life and prepare students to respond creatively and effectively to the challenges of our rapidly changing society.
All NSW government primary schools are co-educational. Gifted and talented children may also be eligible for early entry to Kindergarten. If considering this as an option, organise an appointment with your chosen school where your child will be reviewed by the school in consultation with yourself.
The seven years of primary schooling are divided into Stages of Learning. Early Stage 1 is Kindergarten, Stage 1 — Years 1 and 2, Stage 2 — Years 3 and 4, and Stage 3 — Years 5 and 6. Reflected in the curriculum is an awareness of the central importance of basic skills for all children, including literacy and numeracy, reasoning and information processing, communicating and creative and imaginative thinking.
The Key Learning Areas (KLAs) in the primary years of schooling are: English; Mathematics; Science and Technology; Human Society and its Environment (HSIE); Creative Arts; and Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE). Each of the KLAs has learning outcomes for students that are used by teachers to develop their teaching and learning programs.
National Assessment Program
In 2008, the National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) was introduced for all students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9. The purpose of the program is to assess the literacy and numeracy learning of students in all Australian schools.
The results of these tests will provide information for teachers and parents and help inform teachers in their ongoing efforts to address the literacy and numeracy needs of their students. It is designed to provide information on student performance across a number of achievement levels.
Secondary schooling commences at Year 7 level and is compulsory for all NSW students aged younger than 17, unless students are registered for home schooling. In Years 7 and 9, students sit the NAPLAN test, which is designed to assess students’ literacy and numeracy skills.
In Year 8, all students in NSW government schools sit for the Essential Secondary Science Assessment (ESSA), which is designed to test students’ knowledge, skills and attitudes towards science. It is optional but not compulsory for non-government schools to register for the ESSA test.
From the end of Year 10, students who have fulfilled their course requirements are eligible for the NSW RoSA. The RoSA is cumulative, meaning it records achievements and participation in senior secondary study up to the point that a student leaves school, and records A to E grades based on school-based assessment. Students leaving school also have the option of taking online literacy and numeracy tests.
Higher School Certificate
Most students choose to continue their studies to attain the Higher School Certificate (HSC). On successful completion of all course requirements, including assessments and exams, students participating in the HSC will receive a result for each HSC course. This information is used by the Universities Admissions Centre to derive the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR), which is used to determine entry into university courses. This is the common name given to all existing selection indices in Australian states and territories (excluding Queensland).
The highest ATAR attainable is 99.95. This score would indicate the student is in the top 0.05 percentile of students in Australia. As well as the ATAR, students who participate in the HSC receive an HSC Course Report for each general education course they complete. This report describes their level of achievement as well as the standards reached by other students in the course. A “minimum standard expected” has been set for each course, which corresponds to a mark of 50 out of 100. Students who reach or exceed the minimum standard for each course will score between 50 and 100.
Each HSC Course Report for a general education course shows a student’s mark in relation to six performance bands, the highest of which is band 6 (between 90 and 100). These bands clearly describe what students know and can do at each level of achievement.
Student results in the HSC are based equally on both statewide examinations and school-based assessment. School assessments are adjusted to ensure results from all schools across the state can be fairly compared. Schools are not allowed to reveal to students the final school assessment submitted to the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW because of this adjustment process, but they do inform students of their ranking within each course after the examinations have finished.
In addition to a wide range of general education courses, HSC students are also able to select from vocational education and training (VET) courses. These can be part of the students’ HSC curriculum and enable students to gain both HSC qualifications and Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) accreditation.
Diversity and choice
Students have greater options in their choice of high school than ever before. There is a wide diversity of high schools within NSW: technology high schools; selective high schools and comprehensive high schools with selective streams; language high schools; single-gender high schools; agricultural high schools; sports high schools; performing arts high schools; creative arts high schools; multi-campus colleges; and senior high schools. These are all in addition to comprehensive high schools, which remain the backbone of the secondary schooling system.
All students are guaranteed a place in their local government high school. However, entry into non-local schools is subject to available accommodation. This should be kept in mind if you want to apply to a school outside your designated local area.
There are more than 2200 government schools in NSW, which employ more than 80,000 teachers, all of whom are highly trained and skilled. Most teachers in government and non-government schools have completed three or more years of training at a higher-education institution. Many teachers have also completed further studies and hold post-graduate qualifications. Additionally, teachers regularly attend professional learning programs developed by the Department of Education and Communities and other organisations.
The implementation of the Teacher Accreditation Act (2004) ensures that all teachers who commenced teaching after October 1, 2004, must achieve accreditation with the NSW Education Standards Authority. This requires them to demonstrate effective practice as described in the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. These standards are also applied to mandatory participation by teachers in continuing professional development.
The Education Act 1990
The Education Act of 1990 established the framework for school education in NSW. Under the act, students from Kindergarten to Year 10 are required to study a range of subjects organised in what are termed “Key Learning Areas” (KLAs).
There are six Key Learning Areas for Kindergarten to Year 6:
- Science and Technology
- Human Society and Its Environment
- Creative Arts
- Personal Development, Health and Physical Education
There are eight Key Learning Areas for Years 7 to 10:
- Human Society and Its Environment (HSIE)
- Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE)
- Creative and Performing Arts (CAPA)
- Technology and Applied Studies (TAS)
Each subject has a detailed syllabus document developed that outlines the course of study and the learning outcomes to be achieved
Eligibility for awards
Students will need to have completed the mandatory requirements for Stage 5 (Year 10) to be eligible for a RoSA. Those eligible students who choose to leave school prior to receiving their HSC may receive a RoSA.
Students will be required to submit assessment tasks as delivered by their schools, which will then use marks from those assessments to allocate a grade for each student. Teachers will submit those grades for inclusion on the RoSA if required. Students may also undertake optional numeracy and literacy exams online.
There are two stages of the Higher School Certificate that candidates must complete, referred to as “patterns of study”. The Preliminary pattern of study comprises a minimum of 12 units (each subject is worth a certain number of units) and the HSC pattern of study comprises at least 10 units. Both patterns must include a minimum of six units of Board-developed courses and at least two units of a Board-developed course in English. At least three courses must be of two-unit value or greater (either Board-developed or Board-endorsed). Both patterns of study must include at least four subjects. To satisfy pattern of study requirements for the HSC, a student may count a maximum of six Preliminary units and six HSC units from courses in science.
Apart from Board-developed courses, students can also study courses developed by their school. These school-developed courses are known as Board-endorsed courses and can be included among the courses that count towards the HSC. Additionally, the Board has made some exemplary Board-endorsed courses available to all schools. These are known as content-endorsed courses.
HSC students can also combine study of traditional academic subjects with courses that provide vocational training. A number of TAFE courses are recognised for the HSC and students who successfully complete these courses will receive credentials from TAFE as well as a listing of the courses on their Higher School Certificate Record of Achievement. There are also eight dual-accredited vocational courses that are recognised by industry and also count towards the award of the HSC.
Courses for the HSC can be accumulated over up to five calendar years from the year in which a course examination is first attempted. Students who wish to balance study with work, family commitments or other interests can use this option to design a study program and complete the HSC in a way that suits their needs.
Under the 1990 Education Act legislation, school councils were developed as an option for school communities seeking to increase relevant community participation in the policy making of local schools.
School councils provide a focus for school community activity. They comprise parents, staff and community members. Where established, these councils set policies and goals for their schools including directions for the future based on the needs of the local community. The councils combine the efforts of parents, staff and the community in a genuine partnership to promote quality school-based decisions.
Schools are interested in more than academic instruction; there’s also concern for the welfare of their students and their overall development.
Student discipline in government schools is one section of the Department of Education and Communities’ student welfare policy. The emphasis of this policy is on good discipline — the development and care of the whole student as opposed to modifying behaviour under the threat of punishment. Such positive school programs do not replace or undermine firm discipline policies but aim to deal with the causes of any problems.
The Student Discipline in Government Schools policy states that all government schools must have an individual school discipline policy. This policy is to be developed in consultation with school community members.
It has four areas of focus:
- School rules or discipline code
- Strategies to promote positive student behaviour
- Ways to recognise and reward student achievement
- Strategies for dealing with unacceptable behaviour
All parents and students have access to a copy of the school’s discipline policy, including the school’s homework policy and dress code, if desired. This is regularly updated by the school.
Every student who is enrolled at a school, regardless of their age, is required to attend on every school day. It is the parents’ legal responsibility to ensure regular attendance. Rolls are marked every day. Students who have been sick or absent need to provide a note from their parents within seven days. Schools will inform parents of any cases of truancy or unexplained absences.
In l986, the government initiated the Home School Liaison Program (HSLP) to consult with teachers and principals at schools and provide support to parents. The program’s officers form an essential link between the home and the school as they are specifically trained to work with families, staff and students to improve student attendance. Home School Liaison officers can be contacted through the school principal or your closest regional office.
Student leadership and student representative councils
The school community is an excellent training ground for the development of student leadership skills. Student leadership programs assist in developing skills in young people, with one of the best-known initiatives being the Student Representative Council (SRC). All secondary schools have an SRC and primary schools are also beginning to establish them. It consists of student leaders from each year who have been elected by their fellow students. They have the task of representing the interests of their peers to the school, staff and parent and community groups. SRC members participate in school planning and decision-making and initiate projects within the school as well as organise ways for other students to participate in school life. Some high schools have a prefect body as well as an SRC. In most cases, these high-profile student leaders within a school have come through the ranks of the school’s SRC structure.
The secondary school student leadership network extends to inter-school and regional SRCs and a state body known as the New South Wales Student Representative Council (NSW SRC). This forum of 22 student leaders, including two Aboriginal students, is also peer-elected. It is consulted by senior officers in the Department of Education and Communities, other government departments and business and community groups.
The other state body of peer-elected student leaders is the State SRC Conference Working Party. This group plans and conducts an annual State SRC Conference with regional SRC participants from across NSW. The annual conference deals with student welfare themes of interest to young people. As a result of the conference, information and action-planning flow to
the NSW SRC, regional, inter-school and school SRC forums.
Such conferences reflect the fact that SRCs are increasingly involved in student welfare programs such as peer mediation and conflict resolution, drug education, health and safety, student leaders on teacher committees, Aboriginal student leadership, anti-discrimination and anti-racism.
These activities provide opportunities for the development of student leadership skills that will not only assist school organisation and planning, but will also be beneficial for the students in many areas of their life in the future.
News & Advice
Understanding the RoSA, HSC and IB: A Concise Guide
Today’s Higher School Certificate (HSC) offers more than 110 courses, including a range of nationally accredited Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses.
Depending on subject choice, NSW students can graduate with a Higher School Certificate, a nationally recognised VET qualification, credit transfer into TAFE NSW courses and/or an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR).
The Higher School Certificate (HSC)
The HSC is an internationally recognised qualification for students who have successfully completed secondary education in NSW. The HSC is flexible and accessible to all students. There’s a wide variety of subjects to choose from for the HSC.
The syllabuses make it clear to everyone what students are expected to learn and be able to do in each course by the end of Year 12. Sample examination questions and marking guidelines help students set goals and understand the level of achievement expected.
Students will receive a Record of Achievement, which lists their HSC results and their Preliminary (Year 11) and Stage 5 (Year 10) grades.
To be eligible for the HSC, students must:
- Have gained qualifications that the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) considers satisfactory
- Attend a government school, an accredited non-government school or a school outside of NSW recognised by the NESA
- Satisfactorily complete a pattern of study required by the NESA for the HSC (this may include examinations, coursework and attendance)
NESA-developed courses are the courses for which the NESA develops a syllabus, setting out the objectives, outcomes, structure and content. These are the courses for which the NESA also develops HSC examinations, with the exception of Life Skills courses.
In addition, the NESA develops support materials such as course and assessment requirements, sample examination papers and/or sample questions, marking criteria and performance scales for courses for distribution to all schools. Most board-developed courses contribute to the calculation of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) by the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC).
Life Skills courses have board-developed status and have been designed for the small percentage of students, particularly those with an intellectual disability, who cannot access regular course outcomes and content. Life Skills courses contribute to a student’s pattern of study for the HSC but do not contribute towards an ATAR.
There are three categories of NESA-endorsed courses. School-developed courses are devised by individual schools in response to local interest or need and are endorsed by the NESA. University-developed courses are devised by universities in conjunction with schools to suit the particular needs of high-ability students. Content-endorsed courses (CECs) are developed by the NESA to cater for a wide range of students in areas that are not served by NESA-developed courses.
All NESA-endorsed courses count towards the HSC and are listed on the student’s record of achievement. However, NESA-endorsed courses do not count towards calculation of the ATAR.
Vocational Education and Training (VET) courses
VET courses teach skills relevant to future study and employment. These courses allow students to gain both the HSC qualification and an Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) VET qualification.
The AQF VET qualifications are recognised by industry and employers throughout Australia. These courses may require that the student spends a minimum number of hours in the workplace. Students receive documentation that report the competencies that they have achieved and an AQF VET Certificate or Statement of Attainment.
NESA-developed VET courses are available in 13 industry frameworks:
- Business Services
- Entertainment Industry
- Financial Services
- Human Services
- Information and Digital Technology
- Metal and Engineering
- Primary Industries
- Retail Services
- Tourism, Travel and Events
Each framework is made up of combinations of units of competency from National Training Packages. Each framework identifies the units of competency that make up the 120- and 240-hour courses for the HSC in that industry, as well as any specialisation study courses that are available. Students may choose to sit a written examination for the 240-hour VET Framework course. Those who do so may have the course results calculated in their ATAR. You can also study other VET courses in industries where there is no framework. Some of the courses can be studied at school, while others can be studied at TAFE institutes or with other training providers.
VET board-endorsed courses exist in a wide range of industry areas for VET qualifications not included in the board’s suite of Industry Curriculum Frameworks.
If a student wishes to study a language other than English that is not offered by their school, they may choose to attend the Saturday School of Community Languages and other institutions. These are public secondary schools for students in Years 7–12 who are enrolled in any school system. The school follows the NESA syllabuses in languages that are assessable for both the RoSA and HSC. Other institutions, such as The Open High School, also offer the study of languages outside of a student’s home school.
Most courses offered for the HSC have a value of two units in the Preliminary study pattern and two units in the HSC study pattern.
Some one-unit courses are also offered. Extension study is available in English, Mathematics, History, Music and some languages. Extension courses build on the content of the two-unit course and require students to study beyond the two-unit course. A one-unit course is also available in Studies of Religion.
Content-endorsed courses have the flexibility to be delivered as either one-
or two-unit courses.
Pattern of study requirements
English is the only compulsory HSC subject. To be eligible for the award of the HSC, a student must satisfactorily complete at least 12 units in the Preliminary course and at least 10 units in the HSC. Both study patterns must include:
- At least six units of board-developed courses
- At least two units of a board-developed course in English
- At least three courses of two-unit value or greater
- At least four subjects. No more than six Preliminary units and six HSC units from courses in Science can contribute to the award of the HSC
During Year 12, students are assessed using formal written and practical examinations (where appropriate) and school assessments. Students sit external examinations at the end of Year 12. For courses other than VET, a student’s result is a 50/50 combination of their HSC examinations and school assessments.
Students who satisfy the requirements of the HSC will receive a HSC testamur, or award certificate, with the student’s name and school. They also receive a Record of Achievement, which shows each completed HSC course and the result. For courses other than VET, it also includes the mark awarded for school-based assessment, an examination mark, a HSC mark (the average of the assessment and examination mark) and the performance band showing the level of achievement in each course. An AQF VET attainment is provided to students who achieve one or more units of competency in a HSC VET course. They may also receive an AQF VET certificate if they have completed the required units of competency. The grades a student received in Years 10 and 11 are listed on a separate page of the Record of Achievement.
Students undertaking one or more Life Skills courses receive a Profile of Student Achievement with their HSC credentials, outlining the outcomes achieved in each course.
Once the school assessment has been completed, the school provides an assessment mark, calculated on the student’s performance for each course other than VET courses in set assessment tasks, to the NESA. The purpose of this mark is to measure performance over a wider scope than can be measured in a single external exam. In the case of board-endorsed courses, the mark reported is unmoderated.
Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR)
The most common method of gaining entry for university courses in NSW is based on an applicant’s performance in their HSC. Applicants are ranked according to their Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). ATAR is the common name given to admissions indices across all Australian states and territories (except Queensland). The highest rank a student can achieve is now 99.95. An ATAR of 99.95 means they are in the top 0.05 percentile of students.
The ATAR is based on a scaled aggregate, calculated by the universities using a student’s best 10 eligible units in NESA-developed HSC courses. It is a number reported on a scale of 0–99.95 with intervals of 0.05. It shows where a student stands in relation to all other HSC students for whom an ATAR was also calculated.
Students can include units accumulated over a total period of five years. If a candidate repeats a course, only the mark from the last attempt is taken into account. Students receive an ATAR from the Universities Admissions Centre only if it is requested on their HSC entry.
Students can access important information relating to syllabuses, the RoSA and the HSC.
- NSW Students Online: studentsonline.nesa.nsw.edu.au
This site provides HSC students with access to a wealth of HSC resources and support. The materials have been developed by highly experienced HSC teachers and examiners, and many of the site’s resources have been drawn from the best available resources around the world. There is advice on study techniques and exams, and information for parents and students on subjects, career and further study options.
This website is the place for students to log into their personal page, consult their very own HSC calendar and brush up on their exam skills. It includes past papers, practice tests, study tips and all the latest news and information relating to the RoSA and HSC.
Students can access their HSC results via the internet or by SMS in mid-December. All students who satisfactorily complete at least one HSC course receive a Record of Achievement listing the courses they completed and their results.
Life after the HSC
One important thing to remember is the HSC is not the be all and end all. Just because your child didn’t receive the mark they had hoped for doesn’t mean they are doomed. While gaining a desirable ATAR rank is one way for your child to obtain his or her entry into a university course, there are other avenues that can be explored should your child not gain placement in their course of choice.
For students who are awarded VET certificates or statements of attainment, they will have advanced standing in other VET courses. School leavers can consider university-bridging courses, summer schools or enrolling at the same institution with a view to internally transferring into a course through academic merit at a later date. Keep an open mind and speak to a school or university careers adviser about your options.
NSW Record of School Achievement (RoSA)
The Record of School Achievement (RoSA) was introduced in 2012 to record a student’s academic achievements throughout the course of the student’s senior studies. A formal RoSA credential is available to those students who wish and are eligible to leave school prior to receiving their HSC. All students are able to access their RoSA information online from the end of Year 10 onwards.
To be eligible for the RoSA, a student must:
- Attend a government school, an accredited non-government school or
- a recognised school outside NSW
- Undertake and complete courses of study that satisfy the NESA curriculum and assessment requirements for the Record of School Achievement
- Comply with any other regulations or requirements (such as attendance) imposed by the minister or the NESA
- Complete Year 10
Along with the RoSA credential, the NESA has developed an optional electronic portfolio called Up2Now, in which students may record their extra-curricular activities.
Tests and awards
In all subjects, with the exception of Life Skills and VET courses, studied in Years 10 and 11, a grade is awarded based on a set of course performance descriptors developed by the NESA, Teaching and Educational Standards NSW. These grades are then placed on each student’s Record of School Achievement. The NESA offers voluntary literacy/numeracy tests to students who are planning to leave school. The tests are delivered online.
The International Baccalaureate (IB)
The International Baccalaureate (IB) is an alternative education pathway and is standardised across the globe. The IB is currently available in more than 4000 schools in 146 countries around the world. It offers four high-quality programs for students in their primary and middle years, and career-related certificate and diploma programs for senior students at the equivalent stage of those doing the HSC.
The IB Diploma Program is a rigorous pre-university course of studies, leading to examinations, which meets the needs of secondary school students in Years 11 and 12. Designed as a comprehensive two-year curriculum that allows its graduates to fulfil requirements of various national education systems, the diploma model aims to address the intellectual, social, emotional and physical wellbeing of students.
IB Diploma Program students must choose one subject from each of five groups (one to five), ensuring breadth of knowledge and understanding in their best language, additional language(s), the social sciences, the experimental sciences and mathematics. Students may choose either an arts subject from group six, or a second subject from groups one to five. In addition to disciplinary and interdisciplinary study, the Diploma Program features core elements that broaden students’ educational experience and challenge them to apply their knowledge and skills. These include a Theory of Knowledge course on critical thinking, an extended independent research-based essay, participation in a range of community service activities, engagement in the arts and development of a healthy lifestyle through physical activity.
The results scale for the IB diploma is different from the HSC, with the top mark being a total of 45. From each student’s IB diploma results, the Universities Admissions Centre (UAC) calculates a UAC rank, which is comparable to the ATAR. In Australia, a result of 45 calculates to a UAC rank of 99.95. For a number of students, the IB Diploma Program is an excellent alternative to the HSC, offering a clearly globally transferable index of achievement for students looking to continue further studies both in Australia and overseas.
For more information on the International Baccalaureate, visit ibo.org
News & Advice
The Ultimate Guide to Choosing a School for your Child
For many parents, choosing the right school for their child is a daunting and difficult task. Here, we show you how and where to start.
Schools vary greatly in their emphasis, philosophy, activities, staffing and costs. It’s more than just a choice between private and public schooling as there are many factors to consider. We are fortunate in Australia that our education offerings are of a very high standard and we have a large range of options from which to choose.
Because you want to match the best school with the interests and abilities of your children, this often requires a considerable amount of footwork to visit schools to see the facilities on offer and to speak with staff and principals.
When judging schools, you should be persistent, well researched and have a clear understanding of the New South Wales education system — as well as the choices available — before making your final decision.
ASK YOUR CHILD
Your child will have opinions about what school he or she wants to attend and that may depend on particular areas of interest, subjects offered, perhaps a language and, more often than not, where their friends are going.
Sending a child with little interest in academic studies to a school that prides itself on a high tertiary entrance rate could create problems. Talk to your child’s teachers and find out what they recommend. Most importantly, discuss the decision with your child and work with them — it is their future education.
THE SCHOOL’S VALUES
The school environment will have a considerable influence on your child so you’ll want the values it promotes to be close to your own. You need to work out what you want from a school before asking what it has to offer.
Values don’t just mean moral and religious values. They also refer to a range of social issues, such as the school’s attitude to affirmative action for girls, bullying and discipline policies, right through to the nutritional value of foods available at the school canteen.
There are also practical points to consider such as your willingness to be involved in school-related activities. You need to decide if you have the time to be part of your child’s travel arrangements or if there are public transport options available. How much time and energy are you prepared to give to the school? Some schools expect a high level of parental involvement, others less.
If you have more than one child at secondary level, are their needs quite similar or are they likely to attend different schools? If going to different schools, demands on your time will be multiplied.
DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Choosing A School For Your Child is a great starting point for deciding on a secondary school. But there will be other sources of information for finding out what schools offer, including the internet, school visits, open days and discussions with teachers, principals or other appropriate staff. Even the community feeling about a particular school could be part of your research.
Make a shortlist of schools you consider suitable and then organise appointments to speak with the most appropriate person at the school. This might be the registrar, the principal or the year-level coordinator.
Compile a checklist of features that are important to you and your child. This will help you gain the information you want from each school. You may want to include:
The school’s aims and philosophies: A school needs to have a clear sense of purpose and should have its aims documented. Ask for a copy of the School Charter. How does it match your expectations? What values are implied? Is it based on any particular religious beliefs? Ask about how the school works to achieve its aims. Is there a commitment to educate each student completely?
Individual care: Is there a commitment to assess and cater for the needs of each student? How is this achieved? How does the school cater for students needing remedial assistance? How does it satisfy the needs of talented children?
Curriculum: The trend in government schools is towards a broad curriculum that doesn’t limit students’ choices or interests, but schools still vary in how well they achieve this. Ask what electives are available and find out which subjects are compulsory in Years 7–10, and what is offered at HSC level. Are boys and girls treated differently in some parts of the curriculum or do they have equal access to all subjects?
Student services and care: Does the school have programs for student welfare, personal development, Years 6–7 transition, school-to-work transition, work experience and careers guidance? Are there specialist staff members in these areas? What pastoral-care facilities and programs are there? In what ways are students encouraged to mix across year levels?
Discipline and behaviour: Are school rules clearly specified and communicated to students and parents alike? Ask for a copy of the school’s discipline policy. How does it discourage inappropriate behaviour and reinforce good behaviour?
Academic performance: Some schools are justifiably proud of their high success rate in qualifying students to enter tertiary studies. But make sure you have the whole story. Are they referring to the percentage of Year 12 students who qualify or the percentage of Year 7 intake? Do they discourage students who are unlikely to be successful from finishing the HSC? Ask about the school’s promotions policy. On what basis are students promoted from one year level to the next? How many students in the past have left school after Years 10 or 11? What percentage stays on to complete Year 12?
Student assessment: How often are reports on student progress issued? Are they verbal, written or available online? On what basis are students assessed? How often are parent-teacher sessions held? What exams are undertaken and when
are they held? Are they oral or written?
Class sizes and structure: What are the maximum class sizes? Does this vary with the subject? On what basis are the students grouped within classes?
The other students: These make up the community your child will become part of. Do they come from a narrow or broad range of cultural and socio-economic backgrounds? Is the school single-sex or co-educational? What is the relative proportion of boys and girls?
Physical facilities: What facilities are available for specialised subjects such as music, computing, art, science and technology studies? What musical instruments are available to students and are there extra charges involved? How up to date are the materials in the library and what are the library access policies? How much playground space is there and how is it used? What sporting facilities are available?
Teachers: Are the teachers the type of role models you want for your child? What sort of teacher-student relationship is encouraged? What is the staff turnover rate? Do teachers spend extra time with students in activities such as sports coaching?
Extra-curricular activities: What activities are available to students outside the normal curriculum? What clubs are there? Is there a program of camps and school trips? Are they compulsory and what costs are involved?
Homework: How much homework is given and what is expected at the various year levels?
Parent participation: In what ways are parents involved in making decisions about school policies? Is there a parent association? What does it do? What type of parental involvement does the school expect? Are parents invited to participate in classroom activities?
Student participation in decision-making: Is there a student representative council (SRC) or similar body? Are the students elected to decision-making bodies such as the school council and similar committees?
Sport: What sports are available? What are the school’s aims and philosophies regarding sport? Does the school encourage competitiveness or participation? Do boys and girls have equal access to all sports? Are teams single-sex or mixed?
Technology: What technologies are used in the school and in classes, and how are they being used to increase student engagement and learning? Is the approach to technology integrated and rigorous, or does use of technology in class depend on the initiative of individual teachers?
Costs: While Catholic schools generally charge modest fees, some other private schools have fees that amount to thousands of dollars annually. Government schools do not charge fees as such, but most do request school council levies or subject levies. In both private and government schools, ask about extra charges such as those for musical instrument instruction and hire, camps and excursions, textbooks, uniforms and sports uniforms, sporting equipment and costs related to subject materials.
Admissions policy: On what basis are students selected? Is there a waiting list?
Uniforms: What is the uniform? Is it compulsory? Is there a sports uniform? Is there a uniform recycling system or second-hand uniform shop?
Access to transport: How far from home is the school? What public transport is available? How long will the journey take?
Documentation: Are all policies in writing and available to parents? Are there course outlines, a school prospectus, annual reports and regular newsletters? How does the school communicate with parents?
THE GUT FEELING
While checklists are useful, it’s often a “gut feeling” that can let you know which school is the best for your child. If you can, visit the school at lunchtime, watch the children at play and observe interactions between staff and students. Note how the school is set up for classroom work. Are there rows of desks (suggesting a more traditional methodological approach) or clusters of tables to allow co-operative group work? Listen to the subtle messages your tour guide (registrar, assistant principal, principal) will give you, such as the history of the school, communication with parents, school priorities and future plans.
News & Advice
Digital School Tour Proves Popular
Recently, more than 100 parents considering Shire Christian School for their children participated in an online webinar to learn more about the school.
After the virtual presentation, parents had the opportunity to ask questions which were answered live by the panel of executive, teachers and support staff.
Principal Brett Hartley encouraged prospective enrolments to consider the caring community, Christian teaching and professional development of staff, as some of the important qualities to think about when choosing a school.
The next school tour is slated for September 17 and the school will determine closer to the time whether it will be on-site or online, according to the health advice provided.
Current Shire Christian School parents are reminded to submit an application form well in advance for siblings not currently enrolled in the school.
For enrolment enquiries, please contact registrar Mrs Terry Mann or call the school on (02) 8525 5111.
8525 51******* 8525 5111
|Address||16A Allies Road, Barden Ridge 2234|
News & Advice
Working with Parents to Understand Academic Worry
Since the start of 2018 the Ruyton School community has been on a journey to understand its students’ experience of academic worry through its research study, ‘From Anxiety to Empowerment’. At the end of 2019, parents joined the school to collaborate on this project. We reflected on our journey thus far, explored and provided the opportunity for discussion with parents to further contribute to our research project.
Why study academic worry?
Stressful events are very common in educational settings, both for students and for teachers. A multitude of exams, evaluations and deadlines creates an enormous pressure to perform. This stress, however, can have a critical impact on learning and memory processes. In this study, we have intentionally used the language of ‘academic worry’ rather than stress or anxiety. This ensured that students from Years 5 to 9 could relate to the questions posed in the surveys used to collect the data.
Using student voice for meaningful data
Over the course of this study, we have been asking students to reflect on their experience of academic worry at school. This qualitative approach has helped us understand academic worry through the eyes of our students. It has been their voice and the consistent use of a Data Driven Dialogue protocol with students, staff and parents that has helped us make sense of and determine strategies and structure learning to effectively minimise academic worry for our girls.
Collaborating with parents
Workshops provided the opportunity to engage with our parents to gain insights and parent perspectives on the topic of addressing academic worry. At a workshop late in 2019, we read ‘Little Miss Anxiety’, a chapter from Madonna King’s book, Being 14, and then used a protocol that helped us discuss the issue of anxiety from an Australian girls’ perspective. We gathered parent input that will assist our researchers to determine potential ways forward to tackle the epidemic of anxiety. Collaborating with parents is one method of data collection in this proactive study, Ruyton is leading the way in combating the effects of anxiety or academic worry in girls.
Below is a sample of some the practical classroom strategies our parents discussed:
“Celebrate growth rather than the percentage on the test.”
“Reflect on failure.”
“Meditation moments in school.”
“Plan/organise students’ time management to prioritise relaxation.”
Dr Bern Nicholls
student leadership coordinator
Ruyton Girls’ School
|Religion||Non - denominational|
|Years||Kindergarten - Year 12|
|Enrolment||Approximately 900 students|
12k - 16k Over 16k |
From $13,262 (Early Learning Centre) to $33,246 per annum (Year 12)
03 9819******* 03 9819 2422
03 9818******* 03 9818 4790
|Address||12 Selbourne Road, Kew 3101|
News & Advice
Advice to Parents and Carers
If schools are closed for an extended period of time, the school will continue to provide learning activities for your child to do at home and will communicate with you about their learning.
If your child’s school needs to close, the school will communicate with families through its usual channels (this might be through email, SMS or websites).
In many schools across the state teachers already deliver and manage learning activities using online tools. Some schools may move more or all of your child’s learning activities online. This might include some live lessons. If you or your school does not have digital or online options they will use non-digital strategies. This could include sending worksheets, textbooks or USB drives containing digital worksheets (where available) and videos to your home with your child or via mail.
Teachers may also contact students in groups or through one-on-one phone calls.
This information sheet (English PDF 116KB)External link will help you understand how to help your child learn at home including:
- Your responsibilities – there are things you will need to do to help your child learn from home such as setting routines, finding a quiet space and asking how their learning is progressing.
- Your child’s responsibilities – your child will also need to follow the routines set for them and complete the tasks the teacher assigns doing their best work
- How to plan their day – your school should give you some advice and a guide for what your child should be doing during a day
- Looking after their wellbeing – you will need to make sure they have breaks, drink water and are not getting stressed or anxious
- Communication – it will be important that you talk to your child regularly about their learning. Your child’s teacher and/or the school will communicate with you and tell you how to get in touch with them.
- Using technology and screen time – it will be important that you supervise your child to use technology safely and put limits on the time they spend online.
Advice and resources for teachers, parents and carers to support student wellbeing when learning remotely
Information for parents and carers on talking about COVID-19, supporting their child’s wellbeing and where to access support.
Helpful phone contacts, agencies, websites and apps that support mental health and wellbeing in these changing times
Telephone Interpreter Service
If you need further information please call your school principal. If you need an interpreter to assist you with your enquiry please call the Telephone Interpreter Service on 131 450 and ask for an interpreter in your language. This service will be free of charge to you.
Last updated: 02-Apr-2020
News & Advice
When students start at a new school, there is a sense of excitement about new possibilities. In relation to their approach to studies, to peer relations and to community living, every student has the opportunity to re-start or re-build, and to set new goals and pursue them, with support or independently. Essential to this is a school with a culture where all can contribute, thrive and excel, and where the core values are aligned with those of the parents.
In a recent study, Angel L Harris and Keith Robinson, (EL, September 2017) examined 63 measures of parental involvement to answer the question: ‘What Kind of Parent Involvement Matters Most?’ to maximise student success at school. They concluded that the most powerful means of parental support is ‘stage-setting’, defined as ‘the degree to which parents convey the importance of education to their children and create and maintain an environment in which children can flourish.’
Julie Gillick, Head of Frensham, a boarding school for girls in the Southern Highlands of NSW, says: “Parents should look for a school with a shared approach to ‘stage-setting’. At Frensham, for example, we expect parents to be aligned with the School – in the interests of safety and well-being of their daughters, and in support of the School and fellow parents.”
Parental boundary-setting is vital in this endeavour, and to a child’s development. During formative years, parents routinely say ‘no’ to children to keep them safe and teach them about relationships and respect for others. As children mature, clear boundaries remain essential, to help teenagers to develop emotionally, to build resilience and to develop decision-making skills. Parental boundary-setting is vital whether a student attends boarding or day school.
This is not always easy for parents. Andrew Mullins (p.44 Parenting for Character, 2005) confirms the challenge: Parents are facing a great deal of competition in raising their children, competition from the peer group, from the media, from the bad example of role models in society. If, in the face of that pressure, parents abrogate their responsibility to raise their children well, children will suffer. A good parent does not throw in the towel.
Says Julie Gillick: “At Frensham, our mission is to provide a caring and supportive environment where we actively encourage students to grow in wisdom, self-assurance, leadership by example, integrity and humility, to become responsible, contributing members of society. Our efforts focus on the fundamentals of good parenting; providing both care and discipline in partnership with parents, we aim to provide a consistency of guidance and care, so that the girls can thrive in terms of character, leadership and wellbeing.”
In the words of Aristotle (384-322BC): It makes no small difference, whether we form habits of one kind or of another, from our very youth; it makes a very great difference, or rather all the difference.