A selective school is a school that admits students on the basis of some sort of selection criteria, usually academic. The term may have different connotations in different systems. The opposite is a comprehensive school, which accepts all students, regardless of aptitude. The split between selective and comprehensive education is mainly seen at secondary level; primary education is rarely selective. At the university level, selection is almost universal, though some institutions practice open admissions or open-door enrollment allowing students to attend regardless of prior qualification.
In New South Wales, selective high schools are government schools that select students on the basis of academic ability. Most students enter a selective high school in Year 7, after sitting the Selective High Schools Test in the previous year. The process of entering selective schools is much like that of a university, with students electing their preferences and being chosen for schools based on their performance on the Selective High Schools Test.
In Victoria, Australia, selective high schools select all of their students based on an entrance examination. As of 2011 there are four selective schools: Melbourne High School, Mac.Robertson Girls' High School, Nossal High School and Suzanne Cory High School. In addition there are 2 special schools namely Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School, John Monash Science School which cater to students opting for focused education in Arts and Science respectively.
In Queensland, selective high schools are both private and public. Most private high schools are selective based on interviews, primary school grades and other considerations. In 2005, the then Premier of Queensland, Peter Beattie announced as part of the Smart State Strategy the creation of the Queensland Academies "as an innovative alternative educational program for high achieving high school students." There are currently three Queensland Academies for students Years 10 to 12 and all study the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program.
The Queensland Academy for Science, Mathematics and Technology (QASMT) at Toowong was opened in 2007. It has a partnership with the University of Queensland at St Lucia.
The Queensland Academy for Creative Industries (QACI) at Kelvin Grove opened in 2007. It has a partnership with the Queensland University of Technology Creative Industries Precinct at Kelvin Grove.
The Queensland Academy for Health Sciences opened on the Gold Coast (QAHS) in 2008. It has a partnership with Griffith University at the Gold Coast.
In Western Australia, selective secondary education (officially named Gifted and Talented Education (GATE)) is operated by the Western Australian Department of Education through the Gifted and Talented Selective Entrance Programs for Year 7, and subject to limited placement availability for year-levels upward to Year 11. All applicants are required to sit the Academic Selective Entrance Test and possibly complete combined interviews, auditions and/or workshops depending on the program(s) applying for. The programs are categorized into three strands: academic, language, and arts. Eighteen state schools participate in the Gifted and Talented Programs, each specializing in one of the strands. All participating schools are joint partially selective and local intake, with the exception of Perth Modern School which is fully selective.
Most schools in the UK are now comprehensive schools, which are non-selective. However, there are still 164 grammar schools in several counties of England, which select pupils either on the basis of an Eleven Plus examination, by an internally set and moderated examination, or by both. There are no selective schools in Scotland and Wales.
Some formerly Grant Maintained schools were selective by means of exams, tests, interviews; or a combination of all three. Two notable examples of highly selective Grant Maintained schools were The John Fisher School in Surrey and The London Oratory School in Fulham, London.
These Local Education Authorities continue to maintain a fully selective education system:
Several other LEAs have a mainly non-selective system but a few selective schools exist alongside their comprehensive counterparts, these are; Barnet, Birmingham, Bromley, Calderdale, Cumbria, Devon, Enfield, Essex, Gloucestershire, Kirklees, Lancashire, Liverpool, North Yorkshire, Plymouth, Redbridge, Stoke-on-Trent, Walsall, Warwickshire, Wiltshire, Wolverhampton, Telford and The Wrekin.
There are also a smaller number of partially selective schools in England.
In Northern Ireland, secondary education is predominantly based on academic selection, although a number of comprehensive schools also exists. Selection is carried out by an exam taken in the final year of Primary school. A significant number of secondary schools in Northern Ireland cater only for male or for female pupils. In addition, there is a parallel system of Catholic schools, with a parallel selection system.
Selective schools in the United States are typically high school level, and are often also specialized schools. In New York City, students must take the competitive Specialized High Schools Admissions Test prior to possible admittance to one of the schools. Though many selective schools are of the high school level, there are also schools which provide to lower aged students. One example is the Logan School for Creative Learning in Colorado which admits students 1st-8th grade mainly by IQ testing.
The German public school system is fundamentally selective after four or six years of elementary school. The selective Gymnasium (grades 5 or 7 through 12) is supposed to prepare pupils for university. Some federal states allow parents a free choice of school, however. The German Realschule is also a selective school, though with lower requirements, ending at grade 10.
The pros and cons of a selective school system are a constant issue in discussions about German schools, while many parents take strong efforts to make their children attend Gymnasium.
Attendance of Gymnasium had strongly increased in the second part of the 20th century to the majority of pupils in many areas. As a consequence, mainly pupils with rather low aptitudes remained for the non-selective Hauptschule, traditionally the third main tier (and originally the main tier) of the German school system. Some German federal states have abolished the three-tier system in favor of a combination of Realschule and Hauptschule, starting about 1997. Such non-selective schools are called differently, e.g. "advanced Realschule" or the "Realschule Plus", Sekundarschule or Integrierte Sekundarschule.
NODET Schools(also known as SAMPAD) are national selective schools (middle and high school level) in Iran developed specifically for the development of exceptionally talented students. The organization was first founded in 1976 as the National Iranian Organization for Gifted and Talented Education (NIOGATE). These schools were shut down for a few years after the revolution, but later re-opened. In 1988 The Organization renamed to National Organization for Development of Exceptional Talents. Admission to NODET schools is selective and based on a comprehensive nationwide entrance examination procedure. Every year thousands of students apply to enter the schools, from which less than 5% are chosen. All applicants must have a minimum GPA of 19 (out of 20) for attending the entrance exam. In 2006 87,081 boys and 83,596 girls from 56 cities applied, finally 6,888 students were accepted for the 2007 middle schools. These schools tuition is similar to private schools but may be partially or fully waived depending on students financial condition.