The Best High Schools in Sydney & How to Choose the Right One

An overview of the best high schools in Sydney and how to select the right one to support your academic goals and overall school experience.


Embarking on the high school journey marks an important chapter in a student's life and attending a high school that caters towards your academic or extracurricular needs can have a big impact on how they perform in the future. This article aims to compile information on how high schools performed academically in 2023 as well as give a few extra tips when making the tough decision of which high school to attend.

Top government schools in Sydney

The tables below include data about the performance of high school students from various government public schools, private schools and selective schools. 

  • The overall rank refers to the ranking the school achieved when compared to the entire state
  • The number of entries refers to the number of subjects taken by all the students within year 12. It is generally an indicator of the size of a cohort. 
  • The success rate is an indication of how likely a student is to gain a band 6 in a subject (A mark of 90% or more)

Although government schools are often not the first choice in regards to fostering academic success, in reality many of these schools have been able to achieve amazing results. Additionally, if you are looking to transfer to a selective school, many of these government schools serve as good stepping stones. 

School Rank Overall Rank Entries Success Rate
Northern Beaches SC Balgowlah Boys 1 54 628 25.32%
Willoughby Girls High 2 56 801 24.34
Killara High 3 77 1425 19.58%
Epping Boys High 4 80 1098 18.76%
Northern Beaches SC Mackellar Girls 5 81 768 18.75%
Carlingford High 6 83 1038 18.69%
Cammeraygal High 7 85 653 18.53%
Cheltenham Girls High 8 87 1162 18.33%
Newtown Performing Arts 9 89 869 18.28%
Cherrybrook Technology High 10 92 1949 17.79%
Northern Beaches SC Freshwater 11 101 1618 16.75%
St Ives High 12 102 939 16.72%
Castle Hill High 13 123 1833 13.80%
Moss Vale High 14 125 240 13.75%
Killarney Heights High 15 132 586 13.24%
Pennant Hills High 16 136 706 12.89%
Strathfield Girls High 17 144 757 12.15%
Burwood Girls High 18 147 492 12.10%
Menai High 19 149 802 11.85%
Dulwich Visual Arts and Design 20 152 547 11.52%

Top private high schools in Sydney

2023 was a great year for private schools, with many achieving placements within the top 10. Private schools are much more costly than public schools but there are scholarships available. Many private schools also offer extracurricular programs that may otherwise not be accessible in public schools. 

School Rank Overall Rank Entries Success Rate
Reddam House 1 5 684 54.24%
St Aloysius' 2 6 948 52.53%
Sydney Grammar 3 7 1181 52.33%
SCEGGS Darlinghurst 4 9 662 46.37%
Abbotsleigh 5 10 1093 45.65%
Knox Grammar 6 11 2145 45.64%
Meriden 7 12 924 44.37%
Al-Faisal College 8 15 599 41.74%
Al Noori Muslim School 9 16 571 40.64%
Ascgan 10 17 652 40.03%
Pymble Ladies' College 11 19 1558 38.06%
St Catherine's School 12 21 635 37.95%
Loreto Kirribilli 13 22 822 37.83%
SHORE 14 24 1161 37.38%
Kambala 15 25 468 35.68%
The King's School 16 26 1354 35.42%
Alpha Omege Senior College 17 27 540 35.37%
Presbyterian Ladie's College 18 28 795 34.59%
Moriah College 19 29 731 34.34%
Tara 20 30 454 34.14%

Best selective schools in Sydney

Selective schools achieve the highest academic success in the state but can be difficult to gain entry through the selective test or through transferring. I will expand on the topic of selective schools in more detail below. 

School Rank Overall Rank Entries Success Rate
North Sydney Boys 1 1 995 69.01%
James Ruse Agricultural 2 2 996 60.04%
Baulkham Hills 3 3 1210 55.79%
North Sydney Girls 4 4 909 54.68%
Normanhurst Boys 5 8 786 46.44%
Sydney Boys 6 13 1254 44.12%
Hornsby Girls 7 14 709 41.75%
Northern Beaches Secondary Colleges Manly 8 18 741 38.73%
Sydney Girls 9 20 973 40.72%
Fort Street High 10 23 861 37.51%

Considerations to Make When Picking a High School

Selective Vs Non-Selective

Selective schools are often a controversial topic in NSW as although they achieve stellar results, it is claimed that they are too competitive and stressful for children. From my experiences in attending a selective high school (Baulkham Hills High), I would say that these concerns are partly true. As these schools do achieve top results, there is a pressure to perform within the school. This does lead to competitiveness between students, however I believe that this competition often helps to push students in the right direction.

Through attending selective schools, children often get the chance to work with and interact with like-minded peers who also strive to achieve the best academic results. That is not to say the extracurricular activities are neglected as many selective schools have amazing sporting and musical opportunities. The decision to attend a selective school ultimately depends on the student as if academics aren’t a main priority or they dislike competitive environments it may be better to attend a government or private school. 


Location is an extremely important factor to consider when choosing a high school as travel time can become a significant issue. When comparing a student that has a 30 minute commute to school compared to a student with a 1 hour commute; over the 40 weeks of school in a year, it will accumulate to over 200 extra hours of time spent travelling to and from school. This can create a disadvantage for children that have long commute times. Ensuring the school is accessible through public transport can also be a consideration as it massively increases the convenience of travelling to school. 

Size of the School

Many high schools, especially religious and private schools often have smaller cohort sizes in comparison to government schools. While this may seem advantageous as students may receive more personalised education, there are some disadvantages to be considered.

With smaller schools, one of the biggest issues I have seen in my time as a tutor is a lack of diversity in subjects offered, especially in HSC. With larger schools it is more likely that there will be more students for more niche subjects such as languages which otherwise may not be available at smaller schools. They may also lack the teachers that are required to teach these subjects. 

Choosing a high school can be a very tough decision to make but regardless of your choice, the tutors here at Concept Education are ready to help you throughout your high school journey!

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