Academic results: Australia and New Zealand

In Australia, where 190 girls’ schools (government, Catholic and independent) comprise about 7% of the 2,700 schools offering secondary education, 26% of Australian Student Prizes awarded in 2013 to the nation’s top 500 students went to girls from girls’ schools. Similarly, 25% of Australian Student Prizes were awarded to girls’ from girls’ schools in 2014. In New Zealand, girls from girls’ schools were awarded 51% of the country’s Top Subject Scholarship Awards in 2013, and in 2012 the first girl to win the Prime Minister’s Award for Academic Excellence, recognising New Zealand’s highest performing student, attended a girls’ school.


• A 2017 study of Year 3, 5 and 7 numeracy and literacy (NAPLAN) data by Dr Katherine Dix of the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) found that boys and girls at single-sex schools achieved higher scores than co-ed students even when socio-economic status was taken into account. Year 7 girls at single-sex schools were 4.2 terms ahead of co-ed students in reading and 2.8 terms ahead in mathematics (Dix, 2017).

Analysis of Year 7 and Year 9 NAPLAN data conducted on behalf of The Australian newspaper shows that 46 of Australia’s ‘Top 100 Secondary Schools’ in 2013 and 2014 were girls’ schools (Your School Top 100 Rankings Tables, 2014 & 2015), despite these 46 schools only constituting 1.7% of Australia’s 2700 secondary schools and, overall, Australia’s 190 girls’ schools only comprising about 7% of all Australian secondary schools (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2014).

• Girls’ schools across Australia regularly feature in lists of the “top” schools for Year 12 tertiary entrance scores. For instance, according to the Good School Guide’s “Top VCE schools” list for 2014, nine of the top 20 Victorian schools are girls’ schools (not including Haileybury Girls’ College, a single-sex parallel campus of Haileybury College). Across these nine schools, the median study score was 37 and the average percentage of VCE students at each of the nine schools applying for a tertiary place was 99%. Similarly, the Good Schools Guide’s release of the “Top New South Wales schools” for 2014 shows that seven of the top 20 schools are girls’ schools, with between 38% and 56% of their students achieving 90% or higher in at least one HSC subject.

• In 2013 and 2014, girls from girls’ schools received 25% of all Australian Student Prizes awarded to the nation’s top 500 students, despite girls’ schools only comprising 7% of Australian schools offering secondary education.

Percentage of Australian Student Prize Winners From Girls’ Schools




New South Wales









Western Australia



South Australia







Note: Of the 500 annual prizes, approximately 10 are awarded to students in Tasmania and 10 to students in the Northern Territory. No Tasmanian prize recipients attended a girls’ school in 2013 or 2014, and there are no girls’ schools in the Northern Territory.

• A report prepared by the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) in 2008 demonstrated that girls in Australian Alliance member schools achieved high tertiary entrance scores (ACER, 2008):

  • In Victoria, 36% of tertiary entrance scores (ENTERs) were 90 or more in Alliance schools and girls attending Victorian Alliance member schools produced almost three times the proportion of very high (40+) Study Scores than girls at non-member schools (p. 23).
  • In South Australia, 52% of girls at Alliance member schools gained university entrance scores of 90 and above (p. 23).
  • In NSW, girls in Alliance member schools exceeded the state mean in seven subjects chosen for analysis: English, Mathematics, Business Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Modern History. The highest performing member schools were more than 10 points above the state mean in all subjects (p. 16).
  • In New Zealand the rate of achievement of outstanding scholarships in Alliance member schools was almost three times the national average (pp. 12-13).

New Zealand

• In New Zealand, similarly outstanding results have been achieved (New Zealand Qualifications Authority, 2014):

Analysis of the 2014 New Zealand National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) results has confirmed that girls at single-sex schools achieve higher academic results than girls attending co-educational schools. At NCEA Level 1, 34.2% of girls from single-sex schools in the top socioeconomic decile gained an excellence endorsement, compared with 24.1% of girls from co-ed schools in the same decile group.

• In the seven years that the New Zealand Prime Minister’s Future Science Prize has been awarded for outstanding achievement in carrying out a practical and innovative science research or technology project, the prize has gone to three boys and four girls. Of the four girls, three have attended girls’ schools: Georgia Lala, Diocesan School for Girls (2015), Hannah Ng from St Cuthbert’s College (2012) and Nuan-Ting Huang, Diocesan School for Girls (2011).

• ACER’s 2008 report also demonstrated that the rate of achievement of outstanding scholarships in New Zealand Alliance member schools was almost three times the national average (pp. 12-13).

• A New Zealand study found that “the likelihood of gaining university entrance qualifications … increased in girls’ only schools” (Shulruf, Hattie & Tumen, 2008, p. 627).