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Rush on brand name schools - GSAT students continue to shun non-traditional options

Published:Saturday | November 21, 2015 | 12:00 AMNadine Wilson-Harris
Amelia Burton (centre) celebrates at the end of the Grade Six Achievement Test at Jessie Ripoll Primary School in Kingston in March.
Millicent Graham, principal of Alpha Primary School, making a point about high school dos and don’ts to top-performing GSAT students at her institution last June.
Jubilant students of Ascot Primary school in St Catherine celebrating their GSAT results earlier this year.

Students moving on to the secondary level and their parents are continuing to shun some schools, despite efforts by the Ministry of Education to portray all high schools as on the same level.

The Sunday Gleaner has confirmed that efforts to lift the profile of some of the country's secondary schools over the last few years have done little to stem the long-held tradition, with only a handful of high schools commanding the interest of the majority of students sitting the Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT).

With primary-school students just about done with their selection of schools for the next sitting of the GSAT, data supplied by the Ministry of Education is showing that the last four years has seen very little changes in the schools most preferred by students in each parish.

In several cases, some of the top schools are also the first choice for students in parishes where they do not live.

In the case of Kingston, the Wolmer's High School for Girls was the first preference for more than 14 per cent (333) of the 2,276 students who sat GSAT in the parish in 2014.

Wolmer's was also selected as first preference for several students in other parishes such as St Thomas, Manchester, St Ann, and even as far away as St James.

In the case of St Thomas, 77 students selected the Kingston-based institution as their first choice, while other schools in the parish such as Seaforth and Paul Bogle High did not seem as appealing to the students.

Campion College was the most sought-after school in St Andrew, with 852 of the 7,551 students in the parish selecting it as the school they most wanted to attend in 2014.

Campion also featured prominently as the school of choice in several other parishes. In St Catherine, 381 students selected the Liguanea-based institution as their first preference, while it was selected by 162 students in Kingston as a first choice.




The St Catherine-based St Jago High School also featured regularly as a top choice islandwide as well and more than 18 per cent or 1,322 students, of the more than 7,000 GSAT students picked the Spanish Town-based school as their first choice in 2014.

The data shows 30 students from St Andrew and 12 students from Clarendon also selected St Jago as their first preference, while between one and five students in the other parishes made the institution their top choice.

In the case of St James and St Elizabeth, technical schools garnered much more interest than some of the more traditional institutions. In the case of St James, the Herbert Morrison Technical School was selected as the top choice by more than 31 per cent or 1,059 of the 3,375 students who sat GSAT in the parish in 2014.

Montego Bay High and Cornwall College were second and third choices for the students in St James.

The St Elizabeth Technical High seemed to appeal to more students in the Breadbasket Parish and saw more than 24 per cent of the 2,435 GSAT candidates selecting it as their first choice.

Meanwhile, The Hampton School for Girls was selected by 491 students, and Munro College by 396 students as first choices.

Rusea's High School was the school most preferred by students in Hanover, while Manchester High School was the top choice in that parish, with almost 40 per cent of the 2014 GSAT students in the parish listing it as their first choice.

In Portland, more than 70 per cent of the students who did the national test chose Titchfield as their first choice, while York Castle High edged out St Hilda's High and Westwood High as the top choice in St Ann.

Morant Bay High, The Manning's School and St Mary High had more than 50 per cent of the GSAT students in St Thomas, Westmoreland, and St Mary, respectively, selecting them as the intuition they most wanted to attend.


Top-three GSAT choices by students from respective parishes for 2014





Wolmer's High School for Girls

Kingston College

Camperdown High


St Andrew


Campion College

Ardenne High

Wolmer's High School for Girls




Glenmuir High

Denbigh High

Clarendon College


St James


Herbert Morrison Technical

Montego Bay High

Cornwall College


St Catherine


St Jago High

St Catherine High

Ardenne High


St Elizabeth


St Elizabeth Technical

Hampton School

Munro College




Manchester High

deCarteret College

Knox College




William Knibb Memorial High

Westwood High

Knox College


St Ann


York Castle High

St Hilda's Diocesan High

Westwood High




Tichfield High

Port Antonio High

St Mary High




Manning's School

Frome Technical High

Belmont Academy




Rusea's High

Herbert Morrison Technical

Manning's School


St Mary


St Mary High

Marymount High

St Mary Technical


St Thomas


Morant Bay High

St Thomas Technical

Wolmer's High School for Girls