Mac.Robertson Girls' High School set to expand to fix gender imbalance
Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School is set to expand as the Andrews government vows to fix a gender imbalance that sees hundreds more boys graduate from select-entry schools.
Last year, almost 500 more boys than girls were enrolled in Melbourne's four select-entry schools.
This means that every five years, an extra school of boys graduates from these institutions.
The situation has prompted the state government to spend $500,000 on a review of enrolments at select-entry state schools, as well as planning for an expansion of the sought-after Mac.Robertson Girls High School, which is at capacity.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino said opportunities for a great education should not rely on a person’s gender.
"We want to see more of Victoria's best and brightest young women have life-changing opportunities through the state education system," Mr Merlino said.
"We’ll look at the long-term provision across select-entry schools to ensure girls have the same access to these schools as boys. We will also look at options at the current Mac.Rob site to significantly increase capacity."
In 2017, almost 56 per cent of the 4000 select-entry places were awarded to boys.
The imbalance mainly stems from Melbourne High School having capacity for 400 more students than Mac.Robertson Girls’ High School.
Co-ed select entry schools Nossal High and Suzanne Cory High School have a relatively even mix of girls and boys. Last year, boys made up 51.6 per cent and 52.6 per cent of enrolments at these two schools.
Mac.Robertson Girls' High is located next to Albert Park on Kings Way, but the state government has ruled out encroaching on the parkland to accommodate the expansion. It is exploring increasing capacity at the existing campus, or leasing or buying a new site.
The school's principal, Toni Meath, has been campaigning for an expansion or a new campus.
She told The Age last year that the situation was unfair, and disadvantaged smart girls.
"This school has produced some of our finest leaders, and the fact that more boys get an opportunity to enter these spaces isn’t fair," she said.
"We want girls to have an opportunity to have feminist role models, which we know is important for their growth."
The Education Department said last year it was considering reaching out to high-achieving girls via social media and their schools to encourage them to sit entrance exams for select-entry schools.
Select-entry schools cater for the most gifted and talented students and achieve some of the state's top VCE results. While Sydney has 16 of these schools, Melbourne has just four.
Students compete for a coveted year 9 place by sitting an entrance exam in June.
In 2015, the state government waived the $120 exam fee for disadvantaged students.
Some education experts believe select-entry schools have created a more segregated education system by skimming off the top students from neighbouring schools.
Under the rules, a maximum of 5 per cent of year 8 students from any one school can be accepted into a select-entry high school.