The Best High School in Sydney

24 May 2019 The Alchemy Team



It is a question we get from parents all the time. Especially when they have children in years 5 or 6 or are new to the area and may not have gone to school locally themselves, but they still want to send their children to the best high school in Sydney.

It is a very valid question too – we all want the best for our children, and so putting them in to an environment in which they can thrive is really important to us as parents.

That being said, I don’t believe there is an easy answer to the question. The best high school in Sydney means different things to different students, and the best school for one student may not be the best for your child.

Instead, I think it is about focusing on the right high school for your child and your family.

Here are the five questions I ask parents to help them determine the best high school in Sydney for their child:

What are your child’s strengths?

Every child has natural strengths that they will one day carry in to adulthood. As parents, it is our responsibility and privilege to help them discover these.

Identifying your child’s key strengths is an important part of choosing the right high school for them. You want a school that gives them opportunities to further refine and expand these unique strengths.

For example, if they are naturally athletic try to find a school that is specifically sports focussed. If they are creative, find a school that offers a creative stream. If they are academic, consider a selective school.

Inversely, if they are a serious multi-discipline athlete but don’t do so well in class, a selective school is probably not right for them. Understanding that the best high school in Sydney is totally unique to the child is so important.

Do you have the financial means to consider a private school?

With the fees for some of Sydney’s private schools exceeding $25,000 a year per student, sending your child to a private school is a huge commitment. I have known many families where the Mum has returned to work simply to fund the private school fees for the kids.

Does this align with your family values? Would you be better off instead saving that money and going on an annual family trip or upgrading your car every 3 years? You could probably have one of our tutors work with your child every afternoon for less!

If a private school is within your means, then there are plenty of advantages there. As a product of both the public system (until year 10) and private (years 11 and 12), I would say they are fairly similar academically – but the individualised support and opportunities are usually greater at the private school. It also means your child is around a certain type of classmate as opposed to the mixed-bag they would be at a public school – whether this is a good thing or not is up to you – but something to be considered as few people will influence your child in high school more than their friends!

Would they thrive more in a single-sex school?

When I was in year 10 my parents pulled me out of a co-ed public school and put me in a male-only private school. It really changed everything for me; my focus, performance and even my social communication improved and I was definitely one who thrived in the single-sex environment.

This is just my experience and it may not be the same for your child, but at the co-ed school I was constantly distracted – girls, parties, keeping up appearances. At the all-boys school, everything was just easier. That pressure wasn’t there, and so instead I turned my attention to my studies.

Now, I have seen it work the other way, where guys can get to the end of high school having never had a serious conversation with a female, but I think that with the right mix of extra-curricular activities, a single-sex high school can be a great option for high school students in Sydney.

How do they handle pressure?

Does your child work hard or are they more likely to coast through school doing the minimum?

If they are naturally academic and thrive under the pressure of a high performance environment, then I would suggest a selective school or a selective stream at a regular school. If they get anxious under pressure or are less competitive, this probably isn’t right for them.

I do think that high school is a good place to start to expose them to added pressure, but this needs to be within reason. Just like muscles grow with constant exposure to small increments of added weight, our ability to handle pressure is the same. If you go to the gym and try to curl a 100kg dumbbell having never lifted a weight before, you are only going to burn out from lack of progress or injure yourself. However, lifting a few kgs more than you did the previous week is what gets results.

You don’t want to throw your child in to a school environment that they are not going to be able to handle.

Is convenience important to you?

A lot of families simply opt for their local high school because convenience is important to them. They want their child to be able to walk to and from school and have friends in the same neighbourhood.

For others, the school they go to is far more important. I’ve known parents who have sent their children to schools 2+ hours away on public transport because they valued the school more than the convenience.

Convenience isn’t always best – but it definitely has its benefits. For my children, we have opted for convenience for now, sending them to our local primary school – but come high school I think we will forego convenience, sending them to a slightly further away school than our local school as we like what if offers.

I hope these questions got you thinking. The best high school in Sydney is not about HSC results or NAPLAN results, but about what is the best school for your child. How will it allow them to thrive academically, creatively, athletically and socially? You want the very best for your child, and so choosing the right school for them is so important!

Whatever you high school you end up choosing, the support of a private tutor is invaluable. Our tutors are the best at what they do and will show your child what they are truly capable of. See why we have more 5-star reviews than anyone else here.

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