The Instigator
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The Contender
Con (against)
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The NSW selective schools system is beneficial

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/18/2011 Category: Education
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,869 times Debate No: 14414
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (0)




Pre- Debate / Terms/ Clarification

The term 'NSW selective schools system' refers to the Selective Schools in the Australian state of NSW (New South Wales) . Selective refers to both fully selective and partially selective schools [1] . The term 'selective' in this context refers only to the governmentsystem, not schools with entry via scholarship or schools that select based on certain talents (eg. music) .

As for the term 'is beneficial' , the resolution is asking whether having selectvie schools is a positive vs. a comprehensive only government system. There are to be no semantics regarding this term. Also, no new arguments should be posted by con in the final round.

Finally, the person who accepts this debate is to argue not simply against the selective system, but for the comprehensive (eg. If I'm arguing A and my opponent attacks A successfully, without alternative B, A is the only system standing) system. Failure to do so should be seen as a forfeit by voters.


1. Those who would otherwise be in a comprehensive system (selective students) benefit from the lack of misbehaviour of lower achieving students and the resulting different social dynamic, among other things.
2. With classes of equal student abilities, teachers have a greater ease in teaching, and can concentrate their focus to specific student levels of ability.
3. Students who remain in the comprehensive system are made to engage more with their teachers as the students who typically answer questions and such are gone.
4. It instills a greater sense of pride in the school for the selective students, as they have had to try in order to get to the school they are at.
5. Selective schools typically make for greater multiculturalism at said schools [2]
6. Selective does not mean elitist.

These arguments will be expanded upon in greater depth later.

1 -
2 -


I thank my opponent, Logic_on_rails - who will be referred to as pro for the duration of the debate, for presenting such an interesting topic. I am playing devil's advocate here and will definitely enjoy doing so.

1. In Pro's first contention, he states that the special students who would make it into a selective school would fare worse in a comprehensive school with "lower achieving students", and would result in a different social dynamic. How does con know that the social dynamic at comprehensive schools are not better? Comprehensive schools are actually more beneficial to gifted students, because they provide for less competition, less stress, and the ability to have school friends with a huge variety of skills, and comprehension; they are not limited to exclusively associating with people near their abilities.
2. Teachers should be able to teach any type of student. Teachers for selective schools are generally better equipped than teachers of comprehensive schools. It is unfair to the other students to take away teachers who would give them are better understanding of the world simply for not passing the exam.
3. This is not true. I go to the American equivalent of a comprehensive school (i.e. not a private school) know that children in a wide range of ability will answer questions; often it is the brilliant ones who hold back. This depends more on your character than your intelligence.
4. While this is true for some selective school students, it is not necessarily a good thing. The students who don't make it into selective schools often feel left out or inadequate [1]. Also, because there are more students in comprehensive school, more students would be receiving the negative effect than the positive, so on the whole the Pro's fourth contention is an undesirable.
5. This is only because comprehensive schools typically stay within one area. Of course if a school goes nationwide searching for students, there will be a wider variety of students from different cultures. However, these students all still have something in common, and lack the benefits of experiencing the daily school relationships with students who can't or won't go to selective schools.
6. I thought we weren't playing semantics here. I understand that selective does not necessarily mean elitist, and I see no need to refute this argument because it has nothing to do with the benefits of selective schools over comprehensive schools.
Now for my arguments (they must be brief for the 4,000 character limit allows me little room to both refute and present.):
It has been shown that students with special needs when integrated into a common school system benefit from this. For example, mentally disabled students who are put into the equivalent to a comprehensive school on an equal footing benefit from this[2]. Gifted students have special needs, but separating them from other students is detrimental to their success.

Just because a student is smarter, it does not mean (s)he is more valuable than other students. As stated before, selective schools create a sense of worth, but the students who do not make it suffer from feeling left out and inadequate. Since there are more students that fall into the second category because of the NSW selective school system, it is wrong to say that that system is beneficial. Indeed, keeping students in comprehensive schools provide for a more equal footing.
When students are recruited for selective schools, some of the brightest students are removed, and the others lose role-models. In my school, the leaders are the ones who would be recruited for a selective school under NSW. But, by taking away some of the best students the school has to offer, the comprehensive school suffers; the vast majority of students will be suffering the loss of these brilliant minds.
Debate Round No. 1


Firstly, I too thank my opponent for her argument and acceptance of the debate. I do apologise for the character limit, but I wished to keep it short for my first debate. Also, I believe that con's second link does not work.


1. Selective schools contain a ride variety of students too, and in some cases such as Chatswood High School [1] also include comprehensive, gaining the advantages comprehensive students and provide. Also, for some competition is a positive, and on stress, it is a mixed bag. 1, it relates to competition, which for some is a positive. 2, in some cases selective students get less work or different work that is meant to challenge them or extend them. An example is my maths (I know it's a personal example) class, class A where our teacher teaches us and gives us both standard and extension work in class, yet very rarely gives homework (as in 1/10th of the amount other classes get) . This is because the unique abilities of selective students allow them an easier time in working through and grasping concepts, teachers realise this. The curriculum is not designed for selective students. By 'social dynamic' I mean that the majority of people are more critical than a minority of determining the character of the average student. Selective are a minority and benefit from the positives of being a majority.
2. It's not a case of teachers 'could' or 'should be qualified' , but their experience with different students and the amount they must prepare. Preparation - Teacher x prepares a lesson for a class. The lowest achieving students struggle with the concepts presented and need help. Simultaneously higher achieving students need more work, lest they slip into talking and distract the entire class. The middle students move closer to these categories depending on the activity. Also, experience typically helps with teaching, hence the teaching to those which a teacher has experience with. Also, because a selective class gets ahead they are the few who have time for extra activities (ie. discussing politics, controversial issues)
3. Yes it's a matter of character, yet people in general are more likely to answer if they believe they have the answer. Selective students are more likely to be these people, hence lowering engagement for the rest of the class.
4. Again this is a mixed bag. As agreed by con, some students do benefit. As for the students who try out and don't get in there are a few points. First 2/3-3/4 of applicants do not get in or choose to get in. Of these most are not disappointed, and of those few disappointed they should be weighed against those who gain from the system, and greater awareness of entrance rates should be tried by the government.
5. My point of the benefits of multiculturalism (not how to achieve multiculturalism) goes unopposed here. As for common, there is the best of both worlds, a partially selective school (eg. Chatswood High School) if problems do lie, which is questionable but I'm short on characters .
6. I apologise if it were seen as semantics, I meant that it's not like a private school where money is crucial, selective schools are still public schools. Otherwise we agree here.


1. Special needs students are slightly different from selective students in that they have a mental disability. This changes the scale of the benefits vs. disadvantages. Whereas selective students are missing out on only a small difference in social interaction, special needs students have far greater differences. They are not like, and hence can't be compared.
2. Already addressed above. All arguments argue for selective schools being a positive.
3. Already addressed above. The brightest students do not always have the skills of a leader. Also, partially selective schools exist and are included in the system.

Con, could you please wait until at least the 22 hour mark to post your argument? (Australian time vs American)

1 -;


One of my links didn't work in the first round, ironically the same thing has happened to Pro now; here is the link that I mishandled before:
1. You say that it "is a mixed bag". Well even if I were to accept your argument, that the good and bad cancel each other out, you have the burden of proving that the NSW system is beneficial, which means supporting that it is moot is a viable option for the con. The con does not have to prove necessarily that they are detrimental, only that they are not beneficial. Also, selective students with their special abilities benefit from being a minority not a majority, because they are able to realise the reality of how the rest of society actually works. In comprehensive schools, during their schooling they will be associating with all types of people in all types of intelligence levels which allows them to understand how to effectively deal with people who will not understand everything as well or in the same way as they do.
2. Comprehensive schools still allow for higher level students to be in higher level classes without throwing them into a different school, and therefore they can still have their educational needs met within the comprehensive schooling system. Also the "extra help" that the other students need does not have to come from the teacher. If the higher level students have indeed already learned the material, then a competent teacher would allow these students to help the lower level ones who need help, thus creating a symbiotic relationship which allows all parties to benefit, instead of one suffering, and the other benefiting. The middle students who learn at the pace the class is taught are not harmed either by allowing students who would be in selective students into comprehensive schools. Pro has failed to say that the more qualified teachers do not go to selective schools, or that this is not a detriment to comprehensive schools. He must do one to refute my argument.
3. I still refute this argument because I know from experience that this is not the case, and I challenge Pro to find proof that people who know the answer are more likely to to try.
4. Pro has failed to provide any sources as to how he knows that these students are not disappointed. Isn't it logical that by human nature when you fail to achieve something, you feel disappointed?
5. By Pro's concession that there is some need for their to be only partially selective schools, he admits that comprehensive schools have benefits which selective schools lack. I am running out of time so must elaborate later.
6. It's okay con, I just hate wasting precious character space on refuting arguments that are irrelevant.
re: Rebuttals
1. Gifted Students and Mentally Disabled, or Socially Disabled, are all "special needs students" [1] So your rebuttal is flawed.
Debate Round No. 2



I apologise for the link confusion, for some reason it won't work, and the fact I said the 22 hour mark (should have said 22 hours till posting) . Also, on the BOP my opponent is correct in stating I must prove benefits. However, if I can negate her only comprehensive argument (special needs) then I only need prove a single benefit to have won the debate. (a=b changed to a+1>b as an example) . Also, because of char. limits some, less crucial arguments may be dropped.

Special Needs

Con originally posted about selective students being the same as mentally disabled, in having special needs (see previous rounds) . I countered by seperating the two, which con then stated was incorrect. Here's a few definitions:

Needs generated by a person's disability - (not a link)
In the USA, special needs is a term used in clinical diagnostic and functional development to describe individuals who require assistance for disabilities that may be medical, mental, or psychological - (also addresses things in greater depth)

I think voters can agree that being 'gifted' isn't a disability.

My Case

1. Firstly, partially selective schools (PSS from now) gain any potential benefits a comprehensive school may have, while keeping selective benefits. Secondly, at these schools selectives realise their advantages, and those students who get into fully selective schools are already acknowledge (by the government test) to have superior academic abilities, meaning that they already know they have to simplify their arguments.

2. Firstly, at no point has con thrown any argument against PSS, because they have any possible advantages of the comprehensive system, and any advantages of the selective system, the best of both worlds. This alone is a positive which has gone uncontested and by itself makes for a beneficial system. Also, con seems to miss my main point - time saving. A teacher teaching 3 different levels must divide their attention as opposed to the teacher teaching 1 level of ability. It's not a matter of qualifications or students teaching each other. It's a matter of teachers teaching to maximum efficiency (m.e), and students learning to m.e.

3. I can also use my own experiences to back up my case, but that's a biased source. Also it's interesting that con has a contradiction between 3 and 4 here.

If students don't know the answer and try, by con's reasoning on 4 they will feel disappointed, a negative, creating fear of trying. Henceforth they won't and those who know the answer are more likely to answer.

4. If we accept con's reasoning (3) then we have a result. But we can also negate con's reasoning. It is through failure that one learns. If one's disappointment is overshadowed by what he/she learns and recognises, is it not a positive? Failure is not always a negative. Also, failure keeps positives what they are. Since positives are simply relative to failures and negatives, we must have negatives for positives. An example - You can try and possibly fail the selective schools test or you can not try, but not fail the test. Do you try? Of course, for in failure you learn where you went wrong and how to improve your technique - the purpose of education, to make people learn and improve in what they are instructed.

5. Multiculturalism remains unopposed. Here's a link showing numbers of migrants and people from other cultures (approx. 60% LBOTE students selective schools)Comprehensive - (average 28.8% , this is including selective schools)

6. Dropped, agreed by con.

In conclusion, con can't have both 3 and 4 work, multiculturalism is also uncontested, PSS are also unopposed and the system itself is more time efficient.

Vote Pro, and thanks to Con.


Because this is the third round, and Pro does not have to worry about responding in a new round, I will be posting before it hits 22 hours. I apologize for my mistake saying con instead of pro within my last argument when addressing my opponent; I recently finished a debate in which I was pro, so I have been jumbled.

1. My argument about special needs holds grounds. I say again. Gifted students are special needs students, and so are the mentally, learning, physically, and socially disabled. Just because a student does not have a disability, it does not mean that the student is not special needs[2]. There is a common misconception that gifted children are not special needs[1][3]. Just because Wikipedia did not include gifted children, does not mean that they are not special needs.
2. I will concede that partially selective schools are selective schools, however I urge readers not to consider the students who are at these schools who have not been chosen through selective measures as part of the NSW system. Pro is not viably allowed to say that the entire school is part of the selective system, if only part of it is selective (this is not semantics; I am just clarifying what points the resolution backs up), however the partially selective school can in part be part of the NSW selective system, because the resolution states the selective school SYSTEM not selective schools themselves.
Students will learn at maximum efficiency under a teacher more equipped at teaching students, and pro fails to show why it does not matter who teaches the children, saying only that time management will count towards learning without providing evidence. It is very important for teachers to be of high caliber [4] for any student, and selective schools take away the best qualified teachers from comprehensive schools. Pro has also failed to argue that in a comprehensive system, the majority of students will not suffer.
3. Pro has still not shown any sufficient evidence to support his side, and does not argue against my 3rd; he just states that there is a contradiction. Since my argument was unrefuted, you can extend it.
4. Pro has the burden of proof, and has still failed to refute my question about "how does he know?" and instead attacks me. Also, students who undergo selective testing are not told how they can improve in these areas, may lack the abilities to improve in these areas and often do not get any second chance at all to retake a selective exam, so the students who fail may have a chance to improve, but will never have a second chance to show that they have improved to get into a selective school. Also, people learn better through positive reinforcement than punishment (being excluded from a school for failing to pass an exam) , so the disappointment is form of punishment, and is less likely to encourage them to do better [5][6].
5. I do not oppose multiculturalism, but I argue that the reason for multiculturalism in these schools is not because they select the gifted, as is the reason behind the NSW system; it is a by-product of collecting students from different areas, all around Australia that are not in one area. The same could be achieved through a comprehensive school that randomly selects students from different areas without following the NSW system. The NSW system itself is not the cause for this benefit, but the recruiting of students from all over the country is.


It had fun researching the Australian education systems. I would love to debate again (perhaps not as devil's advocate). Thank you Pro; Please vote Con.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Amethyst 7 years ago
No; my reasoning was not risk behind that. See what you did not interpret from my point about those who do not know the answer is that success is different for everyone. It varies based on individual character. Being able to show the class that you are confident enough to try is one person's idea of success, while another person's may only be getting the right answer. Gifted kids are indeed "special needs" because I am a gifted child, as I assume you are too (I did some moderate creeping on your profile after reading your comment), and I can assure you that we are special needs; that may be why you enjoy going to a selective school just as I enjoy taking higher level classes and speaking with kids on my level. I can understand why you interpreted "special needs" as meaning disabilities, but that interpretation was invalid in the context of the debate because I did not once say that gifted children had disabilities. Oh, and we're both lucky that I was able to get the second round in because I had about seven seconds before the forfeit would have happened. It was a good debate.
Posted by Logic_on_rails 7 years ago
I probably assumed too much prior audience knowledge in this debate. Con, when you say I attack you, I assume you mean my attack at your arguments? The contradiction is that those who don't know the answer are less likely to succeed, leading to failure and by your reasoning, disappointment. A good debate though, none of us forfeited. I found it tough to find actual evidence and such to actually back up my views. Also, I think we took 'special needs' to be different things. You were meaning a need that is special, I was talking about the disability side. Still, at least you were playing Devil's advocate (supporter in other words) .
Posted by Amethyst 7 years ago
Ugh devil's advocate is fun, but sometimes I want to punch myself in the face for what I'm typing. :O
Posted by Sangers 7 years ago
NSW education is better than QLD
Posted by Logic_on_rails 7 years ago
To anyone like Dazedinday, here are links to what selective schools and comprehensive schools are (which refers to those in NSW) - (see first 2 sentences) (on this page there is a link to a more specific description of NSW selective schools
Posted by Dazedinday 7 years ago
What is this selective schools and comprehensive schools. Define please?
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