Specialism Schools and Programs

Purpose of this policy

To ensure eligible students can apply for enrolment into specialism schools, including selective entry high schools, and other specialism programs.


Specialism schools (and programs) must ensure that selection criteria for enrolment are consistently applied.

Additionally, schools delivering part of a course to international students through a third party education provider must enter into a written agreement with the provider which details the course component delivered. Schools are required to provide the Department with copies of all signed agreements: see ISP Quality Standards and School Resources in Department resources.

Selective entry high schools

Selective entry high schools are designed to provide an enriched educational environment for high achieving, academically gifted students from Years 9 to 12. The schools are:

  • The Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School (girls’ school)
  • Melbourne High School (boys’ school)
  • Nossal High School (co-educational)
  • Suzanne Cory High School (co-educational).

Selection criteria

To be admitted to selective entry high schools prospective students must:

  • sit an entrance exam in Year 8 and
  • meet specific selection criteria.

This table describes specific selection criteria.

Criteria Proportion of places Description

At least 85%

Entrance exams from Year 8 students are scored and ranked in order of performance in the exam.  Note: The maximum number of students from any contributing secondary school who will be admitted will not exceed 5 per cent of the Year 8 enrolment of that school as determined by February census figures. In order to implement the 5% rule in a way that is fair to both schools and students, the standard approach for rounding is used. Consequently, in some years offers may be slightly over or below 5%.

Equity Up to 10% Grounds for equity consideration are:
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander status
  • holders of health care or pensioner cards.
Note: This criteria is not subject to the 5% rule.

Principal's discretion

Up to 5% Each school determines their selection criteria and:
  • compiles a selection list
  • invites students to apply.
Note: This criteria is not subject to the 5% rule.

See: Department resources below

Other specialism schools and programs

This table describes other specialism schools.  For selection processes relevant to these schools see the appropriate hyperlink. 

School Purpose

Virtual School Victoria

Provides tuition from Prep to Year 12 for students who cannot access regular schools. See: Virtual School Victoria.

English language schools and centres

The New Arrivals Program provides English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction to prepare students to participate in mainstream schools. Note: Under the terms of the ESL New Arrivals program section of the Australian Government Programmes for Schools Quadrennial Administrative Guidelines, 2005 to 2008, the target group for this program are students:

  • who have recently arrived in Australia
  • whose first language is not English, or whose language commonly spoken in the home is not English whose proficiency in the English language requires intensive assistance to enable them to participate fully in mainstream classroom activities.
See: Newly Arrived Students

Flying Fruit Fly Circus School

Supports circus and performing arts and produces quality circus performers and requires a satisfactory completion of the selection process. See: Flying Fruit Fly Circus School

John Monash Science School

Provides specialist studies in sciences, mathematics and associated technologies. The school has a selective entry process for Years 10 to 12 students. See: John Monash Science School

Maribyrnong Sports Academy

Supports aspiring young athletes balance their academic and sporting endeavours. See: Maribyrnong Sports Academy

Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School

Prepares students for a career in performing arts of music and dance. The school conducts auditions to determine eligibility. See: Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School

Victorian School of Languages (VSL)

Provides language classes in:           

  • over 40 languages through centres

  • 10 languages through distance education.

Access is open to all students wishing to study a language not offered at their regular school, subject to the availability of places:

  • in each class

  • at particular centres.

Distance education information is also available on request from the principal of the VSL. See: Victorian School of Languages (VSL)

Related policies

Related legislation

  • Education and Training Reform Act 2006

Department resources