For parents and students curious about the rankings of each school as well as their unique characteristics, this blog breaks down everything you need to know to select the best school for you from kindergarten to year 12.
The Best Primary Schools (K-6)
When comparing primary school, it is important to consider the catchment area as well as which high school it feeds into. For example, Garran Primary School encourages students to attend Alfred Deakin School following Year 6. In terms of quality education, each of the above schools is highly competitive and provides several opportunities for extracurricular activities e.g. Da Vinci Decathlon and Chess competitions. There are also advanced classes for each subject at each school: Garran Primary has ALP (Advanced Learning Program), for which students are recommended into from year 2 up until year 6. That is, there is no specific test that students must sit to enter this Advanced class. This is similar to Aranda Primary School, Telopea Park School, and Canberra Girls Grammar — all of which have advanced classes for Maths, English, and Science, and follow a more rigorous curriculum.
The Best High Schools (Year 7-10)
These rankings are based on the entire cohort’s performance: in reality, the Advanced Learning Programs for Lyneham High School (LEAP: Lyneham Enriched Academic Program) and Telopea Park School (GILP: Gifted Individualised Learning Plan) are extremely competitive and their academic performance may not accurately be represented by the above rankings. Entrance into these programs is decided in year 6, where students sit selective entrance exams for them. Let’s discuss entrance into LEAP specifically.
Students will sit a series of exams throughout a single day, with the exams being similar to NAPLAN. They assess reading comprehension, writing, maths, and science skills. Typically, no prerequisite knowledge is required outside of the year 6 curriculum. From the hundreds of students that sit this exam, only around 25 are selected as part of the program. Nevertheless, the school also considers ‘partial entry students’: those who were just below the cut-off, but displayed potential through their written application and previous academic achievements (submitted before the exam). They call these examinees in for an interview to assess their competitiveness; where, typically, around 2-3 students are chosen from these interviews to be part of LEAP. Throughout Year 7-10, if students display excellent academic performance, they can also be recommended by teachers into the program. LEAP provides several academics opportunities to its students, including the Da Vinci Decathlon (subject to selective entry), Maths Enrichment, Olympiads, and ANU Maths classes just to name a few. They also study an advanced curriculum, which helps them prepare for college i.e. Year 11 and Year 12.
In terms of sporting, Lyneham High School and Marist College are especially competitive; namely, due to the former’s SEAL (Sporting Excellence at Lyneham) program. The SEAL program encourages students to continue their commitments towards their chosen sports by providing specialised training and workshops to develop their performance. And of course, opportunities to enter several state-wide (and then interstate and national) sporting competitions are provided.
Please refer to this guide for official information about these special programs.
Nevertheless, the other schools mentioned are also very academically rigorous. You will find that those who receive top ATAR’s (i.e. 99.95 ATAR) have historically usually been from Lyneham High School, Telopea Park School, or Canberra Girls Grammar School.
The Best Colleges (Year 11-12)
Narrabundah College ranks first due to its historically high number of graduates who have topped the ACT i.e. achieved a 99.95 ATAR. For example, in 2021, the top two students — the number of students who can receive the same ATAR — who received a 99.95 ATAR were from Narrabundah college. Radford College comes at a close second due to the high average of ATAR’s received by its students; and this may partially be due to the fact that it historically has chosen the students who are eligible to complete the ATAR from their previous academic performance. Duxes have also frequently graduated from Girls Grammar and Canberra College. In terms of academic competitiveness, Narrabundah College sets notoriously difficult exams (especially for Mathematics subjects), which may cause their subjects to be scaled higher compared to other colleges. In terms of school-life balance, Radford College encourages extracurriculars through their numerous programs and initiatives, which from the experience of previous graduates, has helped them maintain their mental health as well as a good school-life balance. To choose the best college for you, it is helpful to consider commute times and the school environment in which you would be best suited to.
Disclaimer: this information is not officially endorsed by the ACT government nor any of the schools mentioned. It also does not claim to be completely accurate as it is based on experience and the rankins of third-party organisations.