Find and select a high school
Learn about the different types of government high schools in NSW, and how to choose which school is right for your child.
Most NSW public high schools have a catchment zone or local enrolment area. If you live inside a school’s enrolment area, your child is guaranteed a place at that school.
Your child can go to a school outside your catchment zone only if that school has places available.
There are usually separate forms for applications to attend a school outside your catchment zone. Check with the school to confirm application requirements and cut-off dates.
Types of high schools
There are different types of government high schools:
- local comprehensive high schools accept all students who live in the local enrolment area. They also accept other students outside the area if there are spots available.
- selective high schools accept students who achieve the highest results in the selective high school placement test. Applications for year 5 students are available in October and tests are held the following March.
- specialist high schools focus on a subject area like languages, performing arts, sports or technology. In some schools, the application process may include a performance or audition.
- central schools are combined primary and high schools, usually found in rural and isolated areas.
Learn more about transitioning into high school at the NSW Department of Education.
NSW Public School Finder online tool
The NSW Department of Education’s online School Finder helps locate schools in your local enrolment area.
You can enter your home address or search by a school’s name. There are other filtering options available as well as guidelines on how to use the School Finder.
The School Finder lists schools within 105km of your home.
Families who live further than 105km from their nearest public school can find more information on their options at the Rural and Distance Education website.
How to choose a school
When selecting a public high school, there are many things to think about. What is important to you and your child may be not be the same as other families.
To help you make a decision, think about:
- the school’s reputation in the local community
- its location and how close it is to where you live and public transport
- its academic performance and any specific educational programs or extracurricular activities
- the school culture and best fit for your child
- how technology is used in the classrooms
- its ability to cater for children with disability or additional learning needs
- services for students from non-English speaking backgrounds
- the general condition of the buildings, classrooms and playgrounds.
To help decide if a school is the best fit for your child, it can help to:
- visit the school's website
- attend an open day
- talk to other parents you know who have children at the school
- make an appointment with the principal to discuss any questions in person.