Which school is better for my child: SEAL or Selective Entry?

At Melbourne Tutorials, we always have our students’ best interests at the forefront of our priorities and our mindsets. So, when parents ask us what is best for their child in terms of the SEAL and Selective Entry high schools, we like to take a balanced approach to the issue.

We encourage parents and students to view the SEAL program as a steppingstone to superlative academic outcomes. Overall, SEAL and Selective Entry should be viewed as a duo of exceptional education.

SEAL Program and Selective Entry Schools cater to identify, develop and nurture academically bright students as they approach University education.

Seal Program

The Select Entry Accelerated Learning (SEAL) program is available in a setlist of public schools which you can find here. Most students enter the Program in Year 7. In order to do so, they must sit for the Entrance Examination whilst in Year 6.Enrolment into the program is determined by performance on an entrance test, normally held in May.

Once tested, the child will be placed in classrooms with peers who are at the same academic level—surrounding them with like-minded and motivated students. Most SEAL students complete the program through years 7-10 in only 3 years. This provides more options for how they wish to complete their final VCE years.

Though the SEAL program aims to help gifted students flourish inaccessible public schools, it is not accredited by the Department of Education, Victoria. In 2016, the Department of Education stopped accrediting the SEAL program.

The accreditation of SEAL schools is through The Academy of Accredited SEAL Schools. (The website of The Academy of Accredited SEAL schools https://www.sealacademy.org.au/, was down at the time of writing this article.)

The SEAL schools give weightage to zonal considerations in selection. As a result, many deserving students from outside the school zone are left out while students from within the school zone have better chances, despite achieving lower scores on the entrance exam.

A few students from outside the school zones are selected but the number of such “open” seats is not very clear to the entrance exam aspirants.

The SEAL schools do offer an accelerated program of learning to gifted students but the entire school is not “Selective Entry”. A cohort of students in the class is selected from the SEAL exam whereas other students are from the normal selection process.

Selective Entry Schools In Victoria

There are four Selective Entry School’s in Victoria: The Mac.Robertson Girls School (girls), Melbourne High School (boys), Nossal High School (co-ed) and Suzanne Cory High School (co-ed).

Selective Entry schools have a rich history of academic excellence. Most students enter the Program in Year 9. In order to do so, they must sit for the Entrance Examination whilst in Year 8.

The entire schools are “Selective Entry” and all the students are selected based on the results in the entrance examination, normally held in June. Just as the SEAL entrance exam, this exam is also conducted by Edutest.

These schools are the best in terms of academic outcomes for children. The schools have consistently produced outstanding results and admission to these schools is considered as the ultimate benchmark of academic excellence. The Selective Entry schools are the most academically focussed schools in the state and your child will be surrounded by equally motivated, bright students. Their mission is to simulate adult-environments and tertiary education by encouraging self-directed learning. Because of this, over 80% of students in the four schools, earn an ATAR above 90 in VCE.

The Selective Entry schools are accredited by the Department of Education, Victoria. The selection process is much more transparent, with clearly identified number of seats in each of the four schools. The admission is open to students without any zonal considerations.

These schools also attract the best teaching staff who are passionate and well experienced in cultivating gifted learning, increasing your child’s chance at being greatly supported throughout their studies. These schools’ emphasis on academic excellence ensures students find their ideal path beyond high school and into tertiary education. As a result, almost 100% of their students choose to go to and are accepted into university.

The Selective Entry Schools have a 5% restriction rule. This rule ensures that a selective school cannot have more than 5% of the population in a year level coming from the same school. This means that for selection into the Selective Entry schools, your child is competing against every other academically gifted child in their current school.

Some critics say that Selective Entry schools which were the ultimate symbol of egalitarianism, reinforce class and cultural divisions and serve to develop elitist tendencies amongst students who are from privileged backgrounds. Some others lament the “cherry-picking” of students by these schools and the emergence of “white flight” phenomenon. It is a fact that over the years Students from migrant families — mostly from Chinese, Indian and other Asian backgrounds — dominate the enrolments of the schools.

The supporters of Selective Entry school system vehemently counter these arguments. They claim that just as sports clubs select the best sportspersons, the Selective Entry schools select the best students and have played a pivotal role in providing opportunities for newly arrived migrant communities. These schools have a selection process based on pure academics and are indeed part of the success story of multiculturalism.

Which is better: SEAL or Selective Entry?

Both the categories of schools make a rich contribution to the learning outcomes of gifted students which starts with a very comprehensive selection process. Both follow a similar pattern of entrance examination conducted by Edutest.

The Selective Entry Schools achieve a greater standing in the following areas:

  • Transparency in selection
  • The overall academic outcome in VCE (ATAR)

The SEAL schools have a better overall reach considering the larger number of SEAL schools spread across Victoria. Further, SEAL schools have more diversity in students’ academic abilities as a group of students come through the entrance examination and the rest of the students are from regular admissions.

The SEAL program may have a detrimental effect on your child’s prospects of attending one of these four schools. Almost all the gifted students in the SEAL schools, try for Selective Entry and the 5% rule can go against them.

Ultimately, SEAL programs should be viewed as an advantageous opportunity for your child to advance to Selective Entry Schools. Even if your child is unsuccessful in being accepted to these four schools (due to the 5 % rule constraint) it is not a wasted effort. Their education within the SEAL program still provides them with accelerated opportunity for their VCE years and subsequently, their tertiary education.

Call to Action

Melbourne Tutorials specialises in providing comprehensive programs for SEAL and Selective Entry success. The programs consist of delivering highly structured classroom instructions, examination strategies and practice tests, and have positively influenced numerous students in achieving their dreams.

Please call us for any further enquiries.



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