Home » Selective schooling doesn’t provide any long-term benefits, study suggests

Selective schooling doesn’t provide any long-term benefits, study suggests

Selective schooling doesn’t provide any long-term benefits, study suggests

Bright students may not receive any long-term benefits from going to an academically selective school, according to an 11-year-long study on Australia’s schooling system.

Thousands of Australian parents spend huge sums and countless hours preparing their children with tutoring and practice exams to sit the entrance exams for such schools each year.

“Studies show that parents wish to enroll their children into selective schools, because they believe it will increase the chances of their children getting into a prestigious university and securing a well-paid and high-status job,” Victoria University research fellow Melissa Tham said.

While selective schools are public, a large proportion of their students are from high socio-economic backgrounds as they can afford to pay for tutoring for the entrance exams. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

In a new study, Victoria University researchers tracked almost 3000 school students from the age of 15 in 2009 using the Longitudinal Surveys of Australian Youth (LSAY).

As expected, the students who attended selective schools scored higher on average in reading and mathematics tests.

However, when assessed at ages 19 and 25, there was little difference in educational or job outcomes between selective school students and their non-selective peers.

The study found that 81 per cent of selective school students went on to secure a job or university place at 19 compared to 77.6 per cent of those who attended non-selective schools.

However, this difference disappeared once differences in the students’ socioeconomic background, gender and geographical location were taken into account.

While selective schools are part of the public education system, a high proportion of students who attend are from high socioeconomic households, who can afford to pay for private tutoring for the academic selection test.

The majority of Australia’s selective schools are in New South Wales. (Supplied)

For example, in New South Wales almost three-quarters of students at selective schools come from the highest quarter of socio-economic advantage while only two per cent come from the lowest quarter.

By the age of 25, all the outcomes between selective students and their peers were insignificant, except for general life satisfaction which was 0.19 points higher for those who attended a selective school.

Students who attended non-selective schools were just as likely to go on to study at university or secure a job.

”These very modest findings indicate that attending an academically selective school does not appear to pay off in large benefits for individuals,” co-author of the study, Andrew Wade, said.

“We argue that academically selective schools in the government sector therefore contradicts the principles of inclusive and equitable education which underpin Australia’s school system.”

New South Wales is home to the majority of the country’s selective schools, which currently number 46.

Queensland and Victoria both have four selective schools each, in Western Australia there is just one and Tasmania, South Australia, Canberra and the Northern Territory do not have any.