There is no way to pin down one single word or quick answer to this question. Selective Schools, depending on where you are in your educational journey, are different every term, every year. They recognise that students need a well-rounded education to assist them in blossoming into successful adults and are constantly throwing challenges at their students to keep them on their toes. Before I go further, I should say I speak from experience, as both my brother and I graduated from Manly Selective Campus and have since gone on to university and started very successful careers. The Selective School experience is something that I feel truly did give us a flying start into our adult lives.
What I would first like to note is that, no matter your passion or talent, a Selective School will always strive to make sure that you have a space to grow and thrive. Not only do they offer a broad subject selection but usually have very strong arts programs for writers, artists, musicians, actors, singers, and design students but they offer well rounded sports programs, often making extra effort to ensure their students have access to high calibre competitions and receive the praise they deserve for their successes. For those more academically competitive there are frequently competitions in various fields such as maths and coding challenges and debating competitions. Selective Schools also focus on fostering a sense of community through buddy programs and peer tutoring, and volunteering opportunities both local and abroad. If there’s one thing I know for sure it’s that any student at a Selective School will be spoilt for choice with opportunities for enrichment.
Selective Schools are incredibly supportive environments. It is often true that gifted and talented students feel anxious about school, particularly towards their HSC years when University entry is on the horizon. For junior students starting year 7 and facing the realisation that they are once again a small fish in a big pond, they will instantly feel welcomed into a community of likeminded learners where instead of feeling awkward about being a high achiever they find their talents and skills are truly valued. As they move into their senior years and are reaching towards the freedom lying just beyond year 12 graduation the staff and teachers will be consistently supportive. They will encourage resilience, patience, and self-confidence as they guide their students towards their full potential. Often the teachers at Selective Schools went to them themselves and are well attuned to the journey their students are passing through. They will go above and beyond to make sure their students are appropriately challenged and supported, encouraging them to be confident, independent thinkers.
I know everything that has appeared thus far has been a glowing report of the Selective School system so you might be thinking my account is a little biased. Students in Selective Schools still face challenges as they progress through puberty, and the academic side is no walk in the park. But the personal growth that comes from teachers having high expectations is exceptionally rewarding, and if I were to redo my High School years I would remain in a Selective School as it offered me the opportunity to thrive where other schools couldn’t.