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Are Opportunity Classes (OC) Worth it?

December 8, 2013

The final stage of primary school is an important time for many students, as they develop their learning interests and capabilities. This is why Opportunity Classes (OC) are so popular, because they are a key chance for students to ‘get their foot in the door’ of the selective system.

Research backs this view up  with many studies showing that students who have not gained entry to these gifted and talented classes in primary schools have a low chance of winning a spot in a selective high school. For example, at James Ruse in 2010, 105 out of a total 120 students had come from OC schools.

 

Many claim that the accelerated learning of OC classes are the best way to ensure your child stays one step ahead. But how do they compare to private schools in terms of recent NAPLAN results?

Top 20 Primary Schools

This list is based on the 2010 and 2011 overall results for years 3 and 5 in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and numeracy.

 

1. Sydney Grammar School, Edgecliff Preparatory School (Private)

2. Sydney Grammar School, St Ives Preparatory School (Private)

 

3. Artarmon Public School (Public)

 

4. Abbotsleigh (Private)

5. Woollahra Public School (Public)

 

6. St Aloysius’ College (Private.)

7. Mosman Church of England Preparatory School (Private)

 

8. Carlingford West Public School (Public) 

9. St Mary’s Preparatory School, North Sydney (Private)

 

10. SCEGGS Darlinghurst (Private)

11. John Colet School, Belrose (Private)

 

12.  Neutral Bay Public School (Public)

 

13. Beaumont Road Public School (Public)

14. Matthew Pearce Public School (Public)

 

15.  Balmain Public School (Public)

16.  Summer Hill Public School (Public)

17.  Beecroft Public School (Public)

 

18. St Ives North Public School (Public)

19. Pymble Ladies’ College (Private)

20. Epping West Public School (Public)

 

 

Note that the public primary schools with OC classes have been highlighted in bold. They account for 7 out of the 11 public schools on the list.

What does this list tell us about OC vs private primary schools?

* Given there are 73 OC schools in the state and 7 of them are in the Top 20 overall, this indicates the high calibre of education and competition in these classes

* While OC schools compare well to the rest of the state, they are not essential to success, with over half of this Top 20 list being private schools. Many of these schools also appear in the Top 20 achievers at the HSC level.

* Schools with OC classes out-perform non-selective public schools, but not all of the public schools on this list have them. 4 out of 11 schools are non-selective, showing that OC classes are not essential for academic success at primary level. This may be for a number of reasons, for example the different levels of mental development.

What else do we know about OC schools?

Some basic facts:

*  There are 73 NSW primary schools that offer OC classes

* More than 3 400 students attend these classes

 

*  Most of these students go on to selective schools, with most of them being part of the 15 000 students that sit the selective entrance exam.

Top 10 OC Schools in the State

This list is based on the 2010 and 2011 overall NAPLAN results for year 5 in the areas of reading, writing, spelling, grammar, punctuation and numeracy.

 

1.  Artarmon Public School

 

2. Woollahra Public School

3. Neutral Bay Public School

 

4. Matthew Pearce Public School

 

5. Balmain Public School

 

6. Beecroft Public School

7. Chatswood Public School

 

8. Summer Hill Public School

9. Hurstville Public School

 

10.  Ermington Public School

 

The three most popular OC schools are, in order:       

 

* Hurstville Public School

 

* Summer Hill Public School

* Woolahra Public School

 

The popularity of Hurstville can, for example, be explained by the fact that it is the top primary school for getting children into selective high school. In 2011, 70% of students in OC classes there went on to attend one of the top eight selective schools in the state.

Competition for these schools is tough. For example, over 600 students each year tick Hurstville as their first choice, even though there are only 60 places available in total at Hurtsvlle. There are similar figures for Summer Hill Public School.

In order to fast track their child’s successful entry into OC classes and eventually the selective system, coaching for the exam is becoming an increasingly popular method. It is vital that your child gets their foot in the door as early as possible so they can achieve at the highest level possible.

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