Navigating the Red Ocean of Selective and Private Schools: Embrace the ‘Go Where You Are Treated Best’ Mantra

The concept of ‘Red Ocean Strategy‘ is typically associated with the fiercely competitive corporate landscape, where companies vie relentlessly for a bigger slice of the existing market, effectively reducing the potential profits. This strategy often leads to an oversaturated market, or what is metaphorically referred to as the ‘red ocean‘. Surprisingly, this corporate strategy concept can also be applied to another aspect of our lives: school selection.


When selecting a school for your child, various factors come into play, including location, curriculum, teaching faculty, and co-curricular activities. However, the most overlooked element is an intuitive principle – ‘Go where you are treated best.’ This maxim underscores the importance of seeking an environment where your child will receive personalised attention, be given opportunities for growth, and ultimately, thrive.

It’s easy to fall prey to the lure of the so-called ‘top’ schools – James Ruse, North Sydney Boys or Baulkham Hills, to name a few. Parents strive to secure a place for their children, driven by the belief that these prestigious institutions will guarantee their child’s success. 

However, the stark reality is that not every child fits the mould. They may find themselves struggling to keep up with the academic rigour, succumbing to undue pressure, and locked in a competitive environment where they may not necessarily receive individualised attention or encouragement – hence the metaphorical ‘red ocean‘.


A shift in perspective is necessary to escape this vicious cycle. Adopting a ‘Blue Ocean Strategy‘ can be a game-changer. Instead of fighting for a spot in an already crowded and competitive environment, consider these key aspects:

  • Identify environments where your child has the potential to excel, potentially being among the top performers. 🏆
  • Evaluate if the school fosters co-curricular activities, promoting holistic development.🏀
  • Investigate less-known private schools, the uncharted ‘blue oceans.’

Today, however, the market is saturated, marking the presence of a ‘red ocean’. Similarly, Pudong in Shanghai was a fantastic place to invest in property twenty years ago. Now, it is fully developed, and the rate of appreciation has plateaued.


Does this mean you should avoid these areas now? Absolutely not. It merely suggests that better returns might be attainable from emerging markets – the ‘blue oceans‘ where you might be treated better.

Here is a list of some lesser-known, high-quality ‘blue ocean‘ schools that often do not feature on parents’ radar:

  • Queenwood Mosman: Queenwood embraces a well-rounded approach to education. It combines an enriching academic curriculum with a lively co-curricular program. Small class sizes allow for individualised attention and the development of a close-knit community. Here, each student is encouraged to pursue their passions and maximise their potential. 
  • Wenona North Sydney: Wenona firmly believes in the harmony of academic excellence and student wellbeing. It provides a nurturing environment where girls are motivated to pursue their interests fervently. The school champions personal growth and the development of leadership skills, fostering an empowering atmosphere for young learners. 
  • SCEGGS Darlinghurst: SCEGGS is committed to unlocking each student’s individual potential. They foster a culture of respect and inclusivity, teaching students to value diversity and demonstrate empathy. The combination of a strong academic curriculum and a wide range of co-curricular opportunities ensures a holistic education. 
  • Ascham School: Ascham utilises the unique Dalton Plan, where students take responsibility for their own learning, thus encouraging independence and confidence. The focus here is on student-centred learning, with an emphasis on creating an environment where curiosity and creativity can flourish. 
  • Kambala: Kambala places a strong emphasis on personal growth and development. Their focus is on creating a supportive environment that nurtures the individual talents of each girl, encouraging them to become confident and responsible citizens. With a wide range of academic and co-curricular opportunities, Kambala provides an education that is truly tailored to each student’s needs and aspirations.
  • King’s School: The King’s School focuses on the cultivation of character and integrity in its students, alongside the pursuit of academic excellence. It provides a broad range of opportunities for students to develop leadership skills, promotes outdoor education, and prides itself on its strong community spirit. The end goal at King’s School is to shape young men of resilience, humility, and respect.
  • SHORE School: SHORE (Sydney Church of England Grammar School) offers a comprehensive education that caters to the diverse interests and abilities of its students. The school takes pride in its strong sense of community, emphasis on character formation, and commitment to serving others. With a wide range of academic and co-curricular programs, SHORE seeks to foster an environment where each student is inspired to achieve his best.

These schools, located primarily in the Lower North Shore, North Sydney, and the East, are often overlooked due to their relatively lesser accessibility via public transport and their distance from the North West and Upper North Shore regions. However, these factors also contribute to their ‘blue ocean’ status.

Think about the economic development of Hong Kong and Singapore in the 70s and 80s – back then, they were emerging markets before their full potential was broadly acknowledged.


The school selection process is a strategic journey that involves considering options beyond the traditional ‘red ocean’ of selective and private schools. Shifting focus towards the promising ‘blue ocean’ alternatives ensures your child receives an education that nurtures them, in an environment where they are genuinely valued and given the chance to shine. 

In essence, it’s about finding the best fit for your child rather than simply the best rank. 🥇

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