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Disadvantaged students rare at select-entry schools

“I don’t know whether they’re not applying or they’re not getting in,” Dr Rowe said. “What we’re seeing is a very strong relationship between your parents and whether you’ll go to this school.”

Others say select-entry schools reflect a multicultural Melbourne, often more so than mainstream public schools, but fail to attract Koori kids from the country.

Further, they say while many select-entry students have highly educated parents, their families are not necessarily advantaged because their offshore qualifications are not fully recognised in Australia.

Monash University gifted education expert Leonie Kronborg said the high percentage of students with a language background other than English indicated ethnic diversity in these schools.

“I have heard selective high school principals say they have Indigenous students in their schools at times, but some of those students did not want to identify as Indigenous,” she said.

In the past decade, 10 per cent of students entering Victoria’s select-entry schools have come from families with a Commonwealth healthcare card, and about half have switched from mainstream public schools.

Dr Kronborg said select-entry principals could consider giving scholarships to an extra to five to 10 per cent of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Hendersons executive director Annette Paroissien says her tutoring firm will offer grants to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying for the select-entry school entrance exam.

Hendersons executive director Annette Paroissien says her tutoring firm will offer grants to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students studying for the select-entry school entrance exam. Credit:Justin McManus

Annette Paroissien, of tutoring firm Hendersons Educational Services, said select-entry families were prepared to pay a fee above other government schools for an experience similar to a high-fee private school.

“It is still a far cry from $12,000 to up to $40,000 that they may pay for a similar private education,” she said.

The entry exam for Victoria’s select-entry schools, generally sat by about 4000 year 8 students, has been delayed to mid-September due to lockdown.

The Education Department did not respond to a request for comment.

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