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Tankiang, Ervin --- "Breaking the Connection Between Housing and Schooling: Are Selective Schools Justified?" [2018] UNSWLawJlStuS 2; (2018) UNSWLJ Student Series No 18-02



Academically selective schools are one of the most divisive aspects of Sydney’s education system, with strong proponents on both sides of the debate and polarised opinions in the media and amongst parents and teachers. These schools represent a fundamental break of the connection between housing and schooling – entry is based solely on academic results and their school bodies criss-cross the extent of the city every day of term. Thus, the question of whether selective schools should exist is inextricably tied up with the question of whether there should be a connection between housing and schooling.

My paper aims to evaluate selective schools by examining how they affect their school communities and associated local communities. It will begin by examining the school community, looking first at the impact of a selective school environment on students’ academic and psychosocial outcomes, and then at what effect this has on the school community as a whole. It will then consider the impact selective schools have upon their local communities, with the paper concluding with a discussion of the broader social forces that have characterised the evolution of and discourse surrounding selective schools.


Sydney public high schools were historically academically selective. Entry was based on academic selection at the end of primary school, with these schools being distinct from the other forms of vocational ‘post-primary education’. Schools were also highly segregated by class, gender, and religious affiliation, with public high schools also serving as a place for the social elite. [2]

The position of academically selective schools was challenged by the establishment of public comprehensive high schools. The Wyndham Report (1961), which gave rise to this system, rejected a system of secondary education focused only on university entrance, advocating instead for universal secondary education where students attended local high schools and high achievers were catered for within the comprehensive system. This led to a decline in the status and popularity of selective schools, as educators and the public began to question their ‘educational validity’ and the existence of schools that ran counter to official policy.[3]

Increasing community pressure to close selective schools culminated in the Macdonald Report (1977) into gifted and talented education, which recommended that all remaining selective schools be abolished, citing the lack of evidence as to their effectiveness. However, despite all these challenges, academically selective schools continued to exist along with externally assessed examinations.[4]

The New South Wales (‘NSW’) public school system was fundamentally altered again by major school policy reforms in the late 1980s with the election of the Greiner Coalition Government. Government policy shifted decisively away from the comprehensive high school model towards greater school choice and diversity as a response to the declining status of government schools.[5] This occurred in the context of a long-term drift from public to private schools and the altering of the federal funding model that increasingly supported the private sector and fuelled competition between the private and public sectors for funding.[6]

Different and specialised types of government schools were seen as a way to ‘rescue’ public education.[7] Selective schools were a critical part of this strategy, and the number of selective and partially selective schools grew substantially and rapidly.[8] This policy was continued by the Carr Labor Government, which considered it to be a success based on the excess demand for places.[9]

The Vinson Inquiry (2002) was commissioned as a comprehensive inquiry into public education and remains the most recent inquiry of its type. A significant part of the Second Report[10] evaluated the impact of the growing selective school system. While it emphasised the importance of supporting individual excellence, it concluded that these could be provided for within the comprehensive school system, ultimately arguing that it was most important to reconcile individual achievement and communitarian values.[11] The report recommended the closure of most selective schools aside from a core of long-established schools.[12]

However, these recommendations were largely not endorsed.[13] Since the Vinson Report, the number of fully selective schools has remained steady while there has been a significant expansion in the number of partially selective schools.


The question of how to educate gifted and talented children lies at the heart of the debate surrounding selective schools. The arguments in favour of selective schools rely on the notion that these schooling environments are better for the academic outcomes and the wellbeing of gifted and talented children.

According to the ‘like minds’ argument, academically gifted students need to be educated together, because it is better for their social and academic outcomes. In such an environment, academically gifted students are less socially isolated and gain a sense of belonging from being with similar peers, and benefit from advanced subject electives and extracurricular activities that would be more difficult to offer in a comprehensive setting.[14] On the other hand, the ‘value added’ argument claims that the strong performance of selective school students in external assessment indicates that selective schools add significant educational value.[15]

This view is supported by government policy, which states that selective schools benefit high achievers by ‘grouping talented students together, concentrating school resources, and using specialised teaching methods’.[16] In a recent address to an international gifted and talented conference,[17] the Secretary of the NSW Department of Education emphasised the ‘like minds’ argument as a central benefit of selective schools, on the basis that ‘research supports the uses of ability grouping structures’. He also cited the domination of unofficial league tables by selective schools, as well as the high demand for selective schools.

The research cited by the Secretary regarding the benefits of ability grouping is largely based on work by Miraca Gross. She argued that being in a selective school environment had a variety of positive effects on high-ability students’ self-esteem, and cited overall high levels of self-esteem amongst selective school students.[18] In addition, she and other proponents have argued that bright students who are not effectively catered for are at risk of suffering under-stimulation and underachievement,[19] and that selective schools provide a special education and curriculum that makes them the optimal environment for gifted students.[20] Selective school students themselves have also generally self-reported the critically positive effect of being amongst similarly high-ability peers and being in a more challenging and academic-friendly environment.[21]

However, other research has called these arguments into question. To begin with, there has been a lack of empirical studies on the effectiveness of NSW selective schools.[22] As a result, arguments and rationales for selective schools have been largely based on philosophical reasons that reflect community and political support for specialised settings, rather than on any researched benefits.[23] This was reflected by the Greiner Government’s rapid and decisive shift towards selective schools, which occurred in the absence of research and against the recommendations of multiple commissioned reports.

The ‘like minds’ argument has been challenged by research about the effects of selective schools on academic self-concept, which is how students perceive their academic ability. According to Marsh’s Big-Fish-Little-Pond-Effect (BFLPE) model, a student in a higher-ability school will have a lower academic self-concept than an equally able student in a lower-ability school.[24] The premise of this effect is that students in different-ability environments have different frames of reference for their ability and their position relative to their peers.

In response, Gross argued that these effects were in part countered by the positive effect of being selected for a selective school, and that high-ability students’ comparisons were often internal and not necessarily against their peers.[25] Furthermore, despite any negative effects on self-esteem, absolute levels of self-esteem remained high.[26] Gross and other proponents also argued that the risk of under-stimulation and underachievement was far more significant than any impacts on self-concept from placement in a high-ability environment.[27]

After comparing these arguments, the Vinson Report concluded that the findings in this area were not sufficiently conclusive to influence policy recommendations.[28] However, over the past decade, further research has been done that has strengthened the case for BFLPE. In addition to a previous study that showed the BFLPE extended to a range of other academic outcomes aside from self-concept,[29] studies also demonstrated that the effect was consistent across Australian states and territories[30] and across a wide range of culturally-distinct countries.[31] A German study also demonstrated that the BFLPE had persistent negative effects after high school.[32] These effects were not just residual – the study also found that new and additional effects arose in the years after high school.

Meanwhile, the ‘value added’ argument has been examined by several studies looking for a connection between academic selectivity and student achievement. Marsh found that higher ability schools added lower value when compared to lower ability schools, so that academic outcomes of high ability schools were not commensurate to the ability level of their students.[33] The various international studies since then have had mixed results, with some showing significant gains[34] while others showed little to no positive impact.[35]

Recent research has attempted to test these effects in the NSW context, specifically looking at how the outcomes of selective school students compared to their comprehensive counterparts. In addition to academic self-concept and achievement, Hobby examined a wide range of quality of life factors including mental health, ability to deal with everyday academic pressures and parental relations.[36] She found that while there were substantial achievement and value-added differences, these were not consistent across subjects and were also affected by statistical factors.[37] In addition, she found that selective school students had lower academic self-concepts,[38] more difficult relationships with parents,[39] and greater anxiety over time compared to their comprehensive peers.[40]

The effect of this research is to demonstrate that there are less benefits, and even potential negative effects, to being educated with high-ability peers, and that the value-added by selective schools is not clear and has potentially no effect. Furthermore, as the Vinson Report noted, the arguments in favour of ability grouping are merely arguments for educating high achievers together, and do not necessarily justify complete segregation.[41] To justify segregation would be to claim that there is no or less value for higher-ability students to be amongst different peers of lower ability.[42] Such a claim discounts the importance of factors unrelated to academic giftedness and the benefits that come from being exposed to students of a variety of backgrounds and characteristics.

Furthermore, there has been significant criticism of how academic giftedness or intelligence is even defined. The Vinson Report was critical about the process of allocation, particularly regarding its very rigid and unchangeable definition of academic talent as opposed to a more fluid and multifaceted understanding, and as to whether the entry test is effective at measuring giftedness.[43] It also questioned the scope of the definition of giftedness, arguing that it had become unnecessarily broadened and diluted to include all children of above average ability.[44] These criticisms are reflected by the academic literature, which argues that selective schools only effectively cater for a narrow band of ‘academically gifted’ children, while being unsuited for many others, and only cater for a very narrow scope of academic talent and achievement.[45]

However, the effect of this critical research on government policy appears to be limited to non-existent. In the aforementioned address by the Secretary of Education, none of these sources rated a single mention in his discussion of the government’s research into gifted and talented education.[46] By contrast, notable Australian proponents of selective schools such as Gross, Vialle, and Jae Jung[47] were cited as influential.


In recent years, there has been a drastic change in the demographic makeup of selective schools. Selective school students are now overwhelmingly from East and South Asian backgrounds, with students of other backgrounds in the minority.[48] In addition, school data has shown a significant change in the socio-educational backgrounds of students, with students increasingly being drawn from the top quarter of socio-educational advantage.[49] As a result, selective schools are quite distinct from their local communities and broader society in terms of cultural and social diversity.[50] Ho’s comparative analyses of school demographics also highlighted vast discrepancies in ethnic makeup across the school system, observing that selective schools have significantly different ethnic compositions to comprehensive and private schools in the same area.[51]

This has had significant ramifications for the everyday school environment. Much of the research in this area has come from race and ethnicity academics operating within a discourse of ‘everyday multiculturalism’, in which intercultural relations are understood by examining everyday interactions.[52] As major public institutions that obligate near universal participation by students and their families, schools are ideal environments for these interactions. On one hand, schools can be ‘micropublics’ in which people from diverse backgrounds are able to converge and intermingle, and thus facilitate cross-cultural understanding and relationships. On the other hand, schools can also demonstrate the limitations of cross-cultural encounters, and instead become sites of differentiation where existing social structures and inequities are entrenched, and intercultural relations are commodified and not valued for themselves.[53]

Ho argued that the demographic makeup of selective schools places them firmly in the latter category. In such an imbalanced environment, race takes on major importance for Asian and non-Asian students. Non-Asian students become very aware of their minority status, while Asian students, conscious of their real-world minority status, take refuge in a ‘common’ identity. Thus, instead of fostering intercultural relations and minimising the importance of racial difference, selective schools entrench separation of ethnic groups, and magnify the significance of race.[54]

On the surface this is a surprising finding, especially given that members of the school community routinely reported the harmonious school environment as a major positive characteristic.[55] This might mainly be because these divisions did not manifest in outright hostility or conflict, but rather in more subtle forms of social management and ordering. The most apparent aspect of this was the casual and everyday use of racial identifiers, with the terms ‘Asian’, ‘curry’, and ‘White’ or ‘Anglo’ commonly used to describe students of East Asian, South Asian and Anglo-Saxon backgrounds.[56] These terms not only identified the students themselves, but also a range of characteristics including physical attributes, academic pursuits, and personalities and interests.[57] Ho observed that these were often methods used to divide sporting teams, and noted a clear distinction between ‘Asian subjects’ such as mathematics and science and ‘White subjects’ such as English and the humanities.[58]

This ‘hyper-racialisation’ has resulted in more substantial forms of separation. Although some students found they were able to establish cross-cultural friendships,[59] for the most part students reported that it was difficult to cross the ethnic divide. As previously noted, the racialised environment was a significant factor in pushing students of different ethnicities into distinct groups. Attempts for closer relationships were also affected by the divergence in interests, attitudes and activities,[60] and these differences encouraged students to gravitate to those like them and differentiate themselves from the others.

For Anglo-Australians, this often came about from a sense of social isolation and disengagement.[61] By contrast, for the majority Asian-Australians, this was often a response to broader social forces. While some students resented perceived social advantages of Anglo-Australians, many students naturally gravitated towards each other due to a sense of comfort from being with other Asian-Australians and an inability to relate with Anglo-Australians.[62] Asian-Australian students often exhibited a sense of pan-Asian or pan-ethnic identity, which downplayed ethnic distinctions but tended to exclude Anglo-Australians.[63]

For all students, this reflected a full awareness of the racial demographics of selective schools, and how these were perceived by broader society. This was reflected by the easier acceptance by students of Anglo-Australian background of their minority status, and by the more pervasive role of racial identity for students of Asian-Australian background, which encouraged the social differentiation and separation practices described above.[64] Ho observed that a stronger sense of ‘Asian’ identity alongside the racialisation of attributes led to Asian-Australian students associating their identity with perceived ‘Asian’ values of academic success, hard work, and strictness.[65]

These tensions have also had a significant impact on parents and teachers, both of whom were also conscious about the ethnic makeup of the school and the perceptions of the community. Among parents, there were a diversity of views. Some Anglo-Australian parents experienced deep anger and resentment regarding the selective school system and the difficult experiences their children faced as a minority, which they felt was caused by the ‘excessively instrumental’ approach of Asian parents to schooling.[66] On the other hand, parents also felt that, despite adjustment difficulties, the selective school environment was beneficial, diverse, and blind to cultural distinctions.[67] For Asian-Australian parents, an awareness of their difficult position as migrants meant that the selective school environment was critically important for their children’s social and professional mobility.[68] Teachers, meanwhile, struggled with how community perceptions impacted enrolments, and the anxiety surrounding how to cater for Anglo-Australian students.[69]


Selective schools have a complicated relationship with their local communities. They do not just impact their own local community, but also the local communities of all the students that commute from outside the area. This effect is most pronounced among the top selective high schools, such as James Ruse Agricultural High School and North Sydney Girls High School, which have highly trans-regional student bodies.[70] This trans-regional nature of many selective high schools creates a second issue, where the high proportion of commuting students combined with the skewed ethnic demographic often means that these schools are disconnected from their local communities.[71] In the same way, the connection between selective school students and their own local communities is affected by the time they spend out of area.

This reflects the nature of school choice, which empowers parents with means to seek an advantageous form of education aside from their local school. DeSena observed the tendency of ‘gentry families’ in Brooklyn, New York to send their children out of area for school, largely because of their dissatisfaction with their local schools.[72] She found that the tendency of gentry families to educate their children out of area resulted in the creation of parallel communities, so that, even in the same space, families and children did not interact because of the segregation and separation of gentry children from the local schools.[73]

In Sydney, this has been replicated by Asian-Australian middle-class migrant parents who send their children to out of area selective schools, because of a similar dissatisfaction with local schools.[74] Their connection with the local community, already hindered by their status as migrants, is strained further by the ethnic makeup of their schools, as well as by their educational and parenting practices and the perceptions of these by their local communities.[75]

Over time, DeSena’s gentry families schooling approaches shifted from ‘exit’ strategies to ‘voice’ strategies. Sherry and Easthope observed that as middle-class families become more involved in the local area, they begin to ‘shop’ amongst local schools and campaign to improve local schools or change them.[76] However, there are a few major problems in applying this model to Asian-Australian migrant families. Middle-class migrant families lack the social capital of DeSena’s gentry or the more established middle classes, which makes it more difficult for them to have a significant impact on their local communities.[77] This is especially marked in areas where migrant families are culturally isolated. Language and cultural barriers are major obstacles for improved intercultural relations between migrant families and their local community, and thus the increased levels of local involvement that precipitate a shift of focus to local schools.[78]

In addition, the selective school model in NSW provides few incentives for migrant families to invest locally. There are no zoning restrictions on selective schools, given that academic results are almost the sole basis for entry,[79] meaning that there are fewer incentives to move into a school’s local community. This is clear from the trans-regional student bodies of many selective schools.[80]

Such a model has major ramifications for the wider school system, particularly local comprehensive schools. Submissions to the Vinson Inquiry argued that this model has undermined the viability of comprehensive schools both in principle and in practice.[81] Selective schools were seen as stripping comprehensive schools of their best students, resulting in a body of residual students who did not go into the private or specialist systems.[82]

The Vinson Report noted that selective schools retained a disproportionate amount of HSC students, with this impact magnified by the proportion of students in other non-comprehensive high schools. This strongly correlated with significant negative impacts in a number of comprehensive schools, including a decline in the quality of the student body and staff morale, resulting in a cycle where a subsequent decline in reputation perpetuates a continued decline in the quality of the school that is difficult to reverse.[83] This was reflected by Campbell and Sherington’s study, which found that the proximity of selective schools was a major factor affecting their success.[84]

The decline of the public comprehensive school as a local institution has significant flow on effects for the local community. School choice does not only take away students – greater choice also serves to exacerbate the disadvantage of parents who are unable to navigate the system.[85] This diminishes the potential for the school to serve as a ‘micropublic’ of students of diverse backgrounds and cultures, a position that neither selective nor private schools are capable of taking.[86]


Selective schools have had a particularly large effect on public discussion and debate around education, which is unsurprising given that it combines controversial issues surrounding race and parenting. As is evident from the discussion above, race and ethnicity have loomed large over those involved in selective schooling. It has been relatively easy to reduce this issue to racial and cultural factors, even amongst academics.[87] Notions of race have even complicated the discussion here, with so much of the academic and public discourse being concerned with the conflict between ‘Asians’ and ‘Whites’/’Anglos’, which is an oversimplification of a far more complex and multilayered picture of ethnicity and identity. While race remains an important factor, further examination has shown that there are, in fact, a number of different underlying social factors that are behind the current situation of selective schools.

The centrality of race-based analysis has had profound effects. Watkins and Ho observed that Anglo-Australians negatively associated practices such as tutoring, supplementary work and excessive parental pressure to Asian cultures, and perceived them as the reasons why Asian students unfairly dominate the system.[88] As a result, Anglo-Australians sought to sharply differentiate themselves from Asians and their practices, developing polarised and hostile opinions about them, and even avoided schools that were overly ‘ethnic’.[89] This ‘white flight’ has entrenched the divisions between Anglo-Australians and Asian-Australians, reinforcing the skewed ethnic demographics of selective schools.[90]

Watkins has argued that much of this hostility reflects Australia’s fraught relationship with multiculturalism, in which multiculturalism did not apply to Anglo-Australians, but to an ethnic multicultural Other that was distinct from and subordinate to Anglo-Australians. Thus, hostility towards ‘Asian success’ stemmed from anxiety about Asians challenging the White majority.[91] Meanwhile, Butler, Ho and Vincent have argued that this behaviour has been driven by the anxiety that established middle-classes experience when faced with a competing new middle-class.[92]

Another significant consequence of the racialised debate has been the marginalisation of other demographic groups. Conflict over ideal schooling is reduced to a struggle between the educational philosophies of the ‘Anglo’ and ‘Asian’ middle classes, which ignores and obscures the cultural diversity and complexity within and outside of these ‘Anglo’ and ‘Asian’ identities. In this debate, the rest are almost totally unrepresented, lying on the periphery of the system’s successful and privileged centre.[93]

The common problem with both positive and negative discourse has been their culturally essentialist assumptions, where any positive or negative aspect of Asian achievement has been attributed to Asian culture, contributing to the depiction of Asian-Australians as the ethnic Other.[94] Various academics have argued that the attributes associated with “Asian success” are in fact the result of a combination of migration systems and reactions to the school systems of their new countries.[95] Because migration programs hyper-select on the basis of education and skills, migrants are disproportionally highly educated and skilled middle class. Despite contrasting cultural and racial backgrounds, East and Southeast Asian migrants all tend to come from extremely competitive academic environments.[96] Thus, these migrants bring in educational and social values that come from their social class and educational background.

The combination of hyper-selective migration policy and market-based school policy provides an educational environment well-suited to these migrants’ educational and social values.[97] High stakes testing and school choice policies within an educational culture that is far less competitive is a ‘code match’ for migrants who have low social capital but considerable academic capital.[98] This is a very modern problem – neoliberal attitudes to both migration and education only became predominant in the 1980s, which coincided with significant migration from East and then South Asia.[99] The lack of these phenomena previously is reflected by the contrasting attitudes of European and Southeast Asian migrants, as well as older East Asian migrants. This also contrasts with the attitudes of contemporary Chinese migrants in Spain, where a perceived lack of social mobility through education means that they value entrepreneurship instead, resulting in very poor academic outcomes.[100]

It is this combination of migration and education policy that creates what appear to be Asian values. The shift of these values from socio-educational to ethnic comes from the creation of ethnic institutions, which influence culturally similar migrants from other backgrounds and cause them to adopt similar social and pedagogic values.[101] Thus, what has appeared to be a racial problem in reality embodies major issues of cultural cohesion, class and socio-educational advantage, and the migration experience, with government policy being the main factor influencing significant shifts in these areas.


Academic research has identified a number of areas of concern in regard to selective schools, making it clear that these schools have significant impacts on both their own and wider communities. The balance of evidence appears to favour the argument that selective schools have sacrificed broader benefits of diversity and communitarian values for questionable improvements in academic and psychosocial outcomes for a subset of students. These effects make it difficult to justify the disconnection between schooling and housing that is central to the operation of selective schools.

Recommendations regarding selective schools have varied from adjustments to existing structures to outright elimination. Researchers looking at student outcomes have generally emphasised the importance of reducing the intensity and competitiveness of the academic environment,[102] in contrast to the more sweeping reforms suggested by the major commissioned reports.

However, any decision to change selective schools would be inextricably tied up in up questions of race.[103] A decision to reduce or close selective schools would be seen by both sides as the most significant move yet to deal with ‘Asian success’ – Anglo-Australians would see this as a vindication of their own educational and social values, while Asian-Australians would construe this as the government taking away one of their key avenues of social mobility.

Still, it is clear that the criticised ‘Asian’ approaches to education are not just limited to academically selective schools – regardless of school environment, students of migrant background experience similar pressures and similar impacts on their outcomes and wellbeing where those parents embrace visible pedagogy.[104] Removing selective schools would therefore not eliminate these practices. While removing the most visible representation of the value of these approaches would not be insignificant, it is unlikely that any real progress can be made without dismantling the architecture of school choice and neoliberal education policy.

The Vinson Report quoted one prominent educator, who stated that without concurrent reform of the comprehensive system, there were no good arguments for the abolition or reduction of the selective school system.[105] For this to occur, significant changes would be required to the funding models and educational philosophies of the federal and state governments. Given the historically powerful impact of community and political philosophies in the face of a lack of evidence, such changes are hard to foresee.

However, this does not justify governments turning a blind eye to this issue. Given the academic research on student outcomes and school environment, there is a compelling argument for the NSW Government to conduct its own comprehensive evaluation of the effects of selective schools. The fact it has not done so flies in the face of its claims that the selective school system is supported by research and lends support to arguments that its main considerations are political and philosophical.

The presence of broader social and community impacts not only strengthens this argument, but also challenges the whole notion of school choice. This paper has shown that selective school policy has both initiated and facilitated negative trends in social cohesion on cultural, spatial, and socio-economic levels. A continued failure by the government to at least formally analyse the impact of selective schools would represent an abdication of its responsibility towards the public school system and the wellbeing of future generations of students.

[1] First submitted as final assessment for LAWS3115 People, Land and Community. Utmost thanks to Associate Professor Cathy Sherry; this paper would not have been possible without her support and encouragement.

[2] Craig Campbell and Geoffrey Sherington, ‘The Public Comprehensive High School in New South Wales’ (2004) 7(1) Change: Transformations in Education 1, 6.

[3] Lucy Hobby, Promoting Potential: A Mixed Methods Study Evaluating the Impact of Differing School Settings on High Achieving Students' Academic and Psychosocial Outcomes (Doctoral Thesis, Australian Catholic University, 2015) 20 <> .

[4] Campbell and Sherington, above n 1.

[5] Hobby, above n 2, 26.

[6] Campbell and Sherington, above n 1, 6–7.

[7] Ibid 7.

[8] Hobby, above n 2, 26.

[9] Ibid 27.

[10] Kathy Esson, Ken Johnston and Tony Vinson, ‘Second Report of the Inquiry into the Provision of Public Education in New South Wales’ (NSW Teachers Federation and Federation of P&C Associations of NSW, July 2002) <>.

[11] Ibid 30; Hobby, above n 2, 28.

[12] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 49.

[13] Hobby, above n 2, 29.

[14] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 16.

[15] Ibid 18.

[16] NSW Department of Education, ‘Selective High School and Opportunity Class Placement Policy’ (Policy Document No PD/2006/0353/V03, 3 October 2006) <>.

[17] Mark Scott, ‘The Promise of Potential’ (Speech delivered at the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children Biennial Conference, University of New South Wales, 21 July 2017) <> .

[18] Peter O’Brien and Wilma Vialle, ‘Students’ and Teachers’ Perceptions of Selective Schooling' (1998) 7 Australasian Journal of Gifted Education 50, 51.

[19] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 24.

[20] Matthew Thompson, ‘Group Kids by Ability and Subject Not Age, Says Gifted-Education Professor', The Conversation, 19 December 2011 <>.

[21] O’Brien and Vialle, above n 17, 55.

[22] Hobby, above n 2, 19; Herbert W Marsh, ‘Negative Effects of School-Average Achievement on Academic Self-Concept: A Comparison of the Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect across Australian States and Territories’ (2004) 48 Australian Journal of Education 5, 9.

[23] Hobby, above n 2, 31.

[24] Herbert W Marsh et al, ‘The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect: Persistent Negative Effects of Selective High Schools on Self-Concept After Graduation’ (2007) 44 American Educational Research Journal 631, 632.

[25] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 23.

[26] Ibid 24.

[27] Ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Herbert W Marsh, ‘Failure of High-Ability High Schools to Deliver Academic Benefits Commensurate with Their Students’ Ability Levels’ (1991) 28 American Educational Research Journal 445.

[30] Marsh, ‘Negative Effects of School-Average Achievement on Academic Self-Concept’, above n 22.

[31] Herbert W Marsh and Kit-Tai Hau, ‘Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect on Academic Self-Concept: A Cross-Cultural (26-Country) Test of the Negative Effects of Academically Selective Schools’ (2003) 58 American Psychologist 364; Benjamin Nagengast and Herbert W Marsh, ‘Big Fish in Little Ponds Aspire More: Mediation and Cross-Cultural Generalizability of School-Average Ability Effects on Self-Concept and Career Aspirations in Science’ (2012) 104 Journal of Educational Psychology 1033.

[32] Marsh, ‘The Big-Fish-Little-Pond Effect: Persistent Negative Effects of Selective High Schools on Self-Concept After Graduation', above n 24, 658.

[33] Marsh, ‘Failure of High-Ability High Schools to Deliver Academic Benefits Commensurate With Their Students’ Ability Levels’, above n 29.

[34] Cristian Pop-Eleches and Miguel Urquiola, ‘Going to a Better School: Effects and Behavioral Responses’ (Working Paper No 16886, National Bureau of Economic Research, March 2011).

[35] Atila Abdulkadiroglu, Joshua D Angrist and Parag A Pathak, ‘The Elite Illusion: Achievement Effects at Boston and New York Exam Schools’ (Working Paper No 17264, National Bureau of Economic Research, September 2011) 30; Damon Clark, ‘Selective Schools and Academic Achievement’ (Discussion Paper No 3182, Institute of Labor Economics, November 2007) 31; Will Dobbie and Roland G Fryer Jr, ‘Exam High Schools and Academic Achievement: Evidence from New York City’ (Working Paper No 17286, National Bureau of Economic Research, August 2011).

[36] Hobby, above n 2, 6.

[37] Ibid 299.

[38] Ibid 322.

[39] Ibid 339.

[40] Ibid 343.

[41] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 17.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid 24.

[44] Ibid 25.

[45] Ibid 24; Hobby, above n 2, 326.

[46] Scott, above n 17.

[47] Quoted as advocating for selective primary schools: Pallavi Singhal, ‘NSW Should Have 'Selective Primary Schools' for Gifted Children: Academic’, The Sydney Morning Herald (online), 22 July 2017 <> .

[48] Christina Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians: Everyday Multiculturalism in the Selective School System in Sydney' (2017) Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, 3 <https://doi-org/10.1080/01596306.2017.1396961>.

[49] Ibid 4; Cf Meghan Stacey ‘Middle-Class Parents’ Educational Work in an Academically Selective Public High School' (2016) 57 Critical Studies in Education 209, 216, which suggests that this shift reflects methodology.

[50] Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 14.

[51] Christina Ho, ‘“People like us”: School choice, multiculturalism and segregation in Sydney’ (2015) Australian Review of Public Affairs Digest <> .

[52] Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 5.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Ibid 6.

[55] O’Brien and Vialle, above n 18; Hobby, above n 2, 287–8; Megan Watkins, ‘“We Are All Asian Here”: Multiculturalism, Selective Schooling and Responses to Asian Success' (2017) 43 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2300, 2309.

[56] Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 12.

[57] Ibid.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid 13.

[60] Ibid 8.

[61] Ibid.

[62] Ibid 9-10.

[63] Watkins, above n 55, 2311.

[64] Ibid 2312.

[65] Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and aspirational Asians’, above n 47, 10.

[66] Ibid 7.

[67] Watkins, above n 55, 2310.

[68] Sharon Aris, 'Indian Tigers: What High School Selection by Parents Pursuing Academic Performance Reveals About Class, Culture and Migration' (2017) 43 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2440, 2446; Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 10–11.

[69] Watkins, above n 55, 2307–9.

[70] Campbell and Sherington, above n 1, 10.

[71] Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 14.

[72] Judith N DeSena, ‘“What's a Mother To Do?” Gentrification, School Selection, and the Consequences for Community Cohesion’ (2006) 50 American Behavioral Scientist 241.

[73] Ibid 255.

[74] Albeit for completely opposing reasons: see Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 11.

[75] Rose Butler, Christina Ho and Eve Vincent, ‘”Tutored Within an Inch of Their Life”: Morality and “Old” and “New” Middle Class Identities in Australian Schools’ (2017) 43 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2408; Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 7.

[76] Cathy Sherry and Hazel Easthope, 'Under-supply of Schooling in the Gentrified and Regenerated Inner City' (2016) 56 Cities 16, 16.

[77] Aris, above n 68; Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 10; Jennifer Lee and Min Zhou, ‘Why Class Matters Less for Asian-American Academic Achievement' (2017) 43 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2316, 2321.

[78] Lee and Zhou, above n 77, 2321.

[79] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 15.

[80] Campbell and Sherington, above n 1, 10.

[81] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 22.

[82] Ibid.

[83] Ibid.

[84] Campbell and Sherington, above n 1, 10.

[85] Christina Ho, ‘“My School” and Others: Segregation and White Flight’ (2011) Australian Review of Public Affairs Digest <> .

[86] Ho, ‘People Like Us’, above n 51.

[87] Aris, above n 68, 2441; Watkins, above n 55, 2300–1.

[88] Butler, Ho and Vincent, above n 75, 2410; Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 6–7.

[89] Butler, Ho and Vincent, above n 75; Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 6.

[90] Ho, ‘“My School” and Others’, above n 85; Watkins, above n 55.

[91] Watkins, above n 55, 2302.

[92] Butler, Ho and Vincent, above n 75.

[93] Lawrence Angus, ‘Teaching Within and Against the Circle of Privilege: Reforming Teachers, Reforming Schools’ (2012) 27 Journal of Education Policy 231, 234.

[94] Christina Ho, ‘The New Meritocracy or Over-Schooled Robots? Public Attitudes on Asian-Australian Education Cultures’ (2017) 43 Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 2346, 2348.

[95] Aris, above n 68, 2445–6; Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 10.

[96] Aris, above n 68, 2443.

[97] Lee and Zhou, above n 77, 2320.

[98] Aris, above n 68, 2451.

[99] Ho, ‘Angry Anglos and Aspirational Asians’, above n 48, 4; Lee and Zhou, above n 77, 2020.

[100] Lee and Zhou, above n 77, 2326–7.

[101] Ibid 2321.

[102] Hobby, above n 2, 347; Marsh, ‘Failure of High-Ability High Schools to Deliver Academic Benefits Commensurate With Their Students’ Ability Levels’, above n 29, 472.

[103] Watkins, above n 55, 2302–3.

[104] Hobby, above n 2, 258.

[105] Esson, Johnston and Vinson, above n 10, 31.

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