School operations

Selective Entry and Other Specialism Schools and Programs


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 academically high-achieving 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 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.

The specific selection criteria are:

Merit – at least 85% of total places

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% 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% of total places

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% of total places

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.

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 Studies.

Virtual School Victoria

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

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 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. Visit: John Monash Science School.

Maribyrnong Sports Academy

Supports aspiring young athletes balance their academic and sporting endeavours. Visit: 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. Visit: 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. Visit: Victorian School of Languages (VSL).


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 Our office locations 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 12 August 2021

Policy last updated

12 August 2021


  • Schools


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

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