The purpose of this policy is to outline the various types of Victorian government specialism schools and programs available to students and to ensure enrolment criteria in these schools and programs are consistently applied.


  • Specialism schools and programs must ensure that selection criteria for enrolment are consistently applied.
  • Selective entry high schools provide for high-ability students in Years 9-12.
  • To be admitted to a selective entry high school, prospective students must sit an entrance exam and meet specific selection criteria.
  • In addition to selective entry high schools, there are a broad range of other specialism schools and programs — refer to each school’s website for enrolment criteria.


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

Selective entry high schools

Selective entry high schools are designed to provide an enriched educational environment for high-ability 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 for Year 9 entry prospective students must apply to sit an entrance exam in Year 8.

Offers are made against the following 3 categories.

1. Standard merit – at least 85% of total places

Entrance exams from Year 8 students are scored and ranked in order of performance in the exam.

With the exception of the equity category, a quota applies to the number of Year 8 students from any one source school who can be accepted across the 4 Selective Entry High Schools.

A source school is the school the student originates from. Students currently enrolled in home-school, an interstate or overseas school are treated as discrete school cohorts, with a cap on the places on offer.

No more than 4% of students are offered ‘standard merit’ places at Selective Entry High Schools from a source school (excluding P–9 schools). The quota that applies to a P–9 school is up to 10%. Quotas apply to minimise the impact on source schools.

In order to implement the quotas that apply to source schools 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 4%.

2. Equity – up to 10% of total places

Eligibility for equity consideration include:

  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander
  • hold a health care or pensioner card.

Note: This criteria is not subject to the quota that applies to one source schools.

3. Principal’s discretion – up to 5% of total places

Each school determines their selection criteria and:

  • compiles a selection list
  • invites students to apply.

Note: The principal’s discretion category can only be applied when the quota from any one source school has not been reached.

To enter the selective entry high schools for Year 10 and 11 entry, please visit the school’s website.

Other specialism schools and programs

The following information describes other specialism schools. For selection processes relevant to these schools see the appropriate hyperlink.

Centre for Higher Education Studies – available from Term 3, 2022

Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES) will provide high-achieving and high-ability senior-secondary aged students with stretch and challenge opportunities through partnerships with universities. The new centre will support students to gain a head start on their tertiary pathways or undertake specialised VCE subjects, including virtual learning for rural and regional students. Further information on course entry will be available via the CHES website in early 2022. Visit: Centre for Higher Education StudiesExternal Link .

Virtual School Victoria

Provides tuition from Prep to Year 12 for students who cannot access regular schools. Visit: Virtual School VictoriaExternal Link .

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.

Refer to: EAL — Provision for 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. Visit: Flying Fruit Fly Circus SchoolExternal Link .

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. Visit: John Monash Science SchoolExternal Link .

Maribyrnong Sports Academy

Supports aspiring young athletes balance their academic and sporting endeavours. Visit: Maribyrnong Sports AcademyExternal Link .

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. Visit: Victorian College of the Arts Secondary SchoolExternal Link .

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. Visit: Victorian School of Languages (VSL)External Link .


Specialism school
For the purpose of this policy, specialism school means a Victorian government school that focusses on a specialist subject or activity and has specific enrolment criteria.

Specialism program
For the purpose of this policy, specialism program means a program offered by the Department or a Victorian government school that focusses on a specialist subject or activity and has specific enrolment or participation criteria.

Note: Under this policy, specialism schools and programs do not refer to specialist schools that are established for the main purpose of providing instruction for students with disabilities or for students with additional social, emotional or behavioural needs.

Relevant legislation


For queries about individual specialism schools or program, schools may contact the individual school or the relevant Area Executive Director in the applicable regional office. Refer to Office locationsExternal Link for contact details for each regional office.

For general queries or feedback about this Policy please contact the Student Excellence Unit, Learning, Teaching and Pathways Division on:

Phone: 03 7022 2693

Department policy outlining enrolment criteria and requirements for select entry and other specialism schools and programs

Reviewed 16 January 2023

Policy last updated

9 June 2022


  • Schools


There are multiple contacts for this topic. Refer to the Contacts heading at the bottom of the page.

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