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 Post subject: Open day musings.....
PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 12:34 pm 
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Hi
We recently went to both the KECH Girls and KE Handsworth open day. We were surprisingly very impressed with Handsworth (excellent speech by the headmistress, modern facilities, genuinely happy-looking children) but somewhat disappointed by KECH (frosty speech by headmistress, tired looking school &, I'm sorry to say, but somewhat unhappy & stressed-looking girls).
We were hoping that KECH would impress us more as we live nearby & it would have been our first choice but we are now in bit of a quandary. :?
I was wondering what other parents/children felt on these open days?
Speaking to parents I get the impression that there is a lot of negativity about Handsworth (bad reputation of local area, safety, not so 'fashionable' to go there anymore etc) & I have also noticed that it is less commonly mentioned on this forum than say KECH or Five Ways. KECH seems to be the place to put 1st on the preference form, possibly because it seems more 'prestigious' nowadays? I understand KECH has slightly better results than Handsworth (& surely this is what it's all about?) or is it????
Our DD liked both schools & thankfully we have another year to ponder over our decision. And speaking of decisions, it would be interesting to know whether most parents allow their children to choose their school or will most parents be making the ultimate decision?
All views would be welcoming.
Thanks


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 1:53 pm 
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Hi sss,

I would like to put your mind at rest regarding KECHG. My daughter is in year 7 at the school and is absolutely loving it. Indeed she was one of the girls doing the tours on Open Evening and I'm sure she didn't look unhappy or stressed, (although she may have looked tired as she is still getting used to the early mornings and it was the end of the week)

The overriding impression I get from her is that she is in a school with a group of like-minded girls who work hard but like to have fun too. Also that the staff are supportive of the girls. She is being pushed in lessons and there is an obviously strong work ethic but the school also seems to want to foster their all-roundedness. (She has already brought home countless letters about events, trips, show rehearsals...)

I won't go on or I'll begin to sound like the Head myself!

I can't comment on Handsworth as it was too far from us to ever be a consideration, also any decision has to be right for you as a family and for what is best for your DD. As to who should make the decision; Personally I think the parent. However it would perhaps be counter productive to force a DC to go to a school they were dead set against.

Hope that helps, just off to write the Head's speech for next year.... whoops!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 2:11 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2011 12:54 pm
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I've visited either school this year (tho' my husband has been to Handsworth), but my impression from last year was that KECHG was more white and more middle class compared to Handsworth, reflecting the demographic of the local area. That might affect someone's impression of it, as different cultures give a different impression.

If you live closer to Camp Hill, the difference in travel is a big factor, in my opinion. What value do you put on time in the home and with local friends, the opportunity to do out-of-school activities locally? Camp Hill is off the radar for us (despite our profile being closer to the Camp Hill one) because I think an extra 11/2hrs of travel time a day adds up to a lot of my daughter's life that I'd prefer her to spend with us or in other activities.

I think the forum discussions are weighted by where forum people live (not so many on the West side of Birmingham is the impression I get). But I stand to be corrected!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 4:10 pm 
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I don't think it's so much that there's very little mention of Handsworth as opposed to CHG/5W, more that there's relatively little discussion of girls' options as opposed to boys'.

I think CHG perhaps puts itself across very badly at open days. We came away very unimpressed last year - I posted my thoughts then. I disliked it enough to hope that Five Ways would look more suitable (we were prepared to allow our daughter to decide which of them would get first preference - but that's the limit of her influence) but sadly it didn't. We liked CHG a lot better when we went round again after offers day (but the cynic in me says that might be because at that stage they're competing against other good schools for girls who've already qualified rather than fending off masses of people who will mostly not qualify - or even apply - so they're trying much harder!). I've heard both strongly favourable and deeply unfavourable comments from parents with girls there, so I suspect it's maybe somewhere you either love or hate. Mostly love it, I think, to be fair.

There's really nothing to choose between Handsworth and CHG in terms of academic results.

Mike


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:01 pm 
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Location: Birmingham
I took my dd to KECHG at her insistence, although she has 2 years to go to her exam.
I was quite shaken at how disappointed I was afterward, but for the life of me I can't explain why.
The girl taking us round was enthusiastic and very helpful.
The teachers in the Maths dept were very friendly.

It is just that, having always felt welcomed and comfortable at CHB (ds1 in Yr eight), I felt surprisingly unwelcome and looked down upon at CHG.

In most of the rooms, the teachers smiled condescendingly and then awkwardly ignored my daughter and I, as did the room-based girls. although one did say to my daughter that if she failed for Yr 7, she should try again for sixth form. I even felt a touch of frostiness from other parents, who perhaps noticing my headscarf and my daughter's not-very-posh uniform, thought we were a basket case.
The Head's speech came across as distant and seemed to heavily focus on choir and cathedral things (when the Head Girl had already mentioned these in detail) which left me feeling slightly alienated.
I tried to speak to the Head but she was busy talking to another parent, refused to acknowledge me, and after standing by for about 5 minutes, I felt like a fool and walked away.
I also noticed that the prospectus stated strongly that girls were not allowed to wear a headscarf for PE or Games, which was upsetting when so many headcoverings are available specifically for sports, and indeed, they are allowed in the Olympics. I know that some girls have fought for the right to wear these safety approved coverings, and I was not impressed by why it should even be an issue.

I haven't visited KE Handsworth, so can't compare.
I should note that my daughter completely loved KECH (I found her later that night out of bed, searching on google for a tutor lol) and as it is closer, and adjacent to her brother's school, it is an obvious first choice.
But should she gain a place, (and there are no guarantees!) I am unsure whether as a family we will enjoy as good a relationship with the school as I feel we have with the boys' school.


Last edited by um on Mon Sep 26, 2011 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:14 am
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Goodness Um!
I'm shocked and saddened by what u experienced :-(. There must me SOMETHING about that school. Our school positively and shamelessly supports KEHS and not KECH for girls.

I also wear a headscarf, ( but luckily have boys only, so won't have to worry about them and headscarves lol), and am already a little nervous about visiting KES. I regularly find people smiling at me who really don't want to! Hope I don't feel as you did :-(. I cringed reading your post. How utterly awful!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 5:44 pm 
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To anyone worried about KEHS, please don't be. My sister recently revisited it on Open Day, taking along her own daughter. She had been a pupil there herself many years ago and she found the whole experience both touching and enjoyable. The same head is there ( although I think she will be leaving soon?), and the school is a joyful learning environment with an excellent mix of backgrounds.

However, I have to add, not a very good place to catch the normal buses from! Green Bus only or pick up/drop off.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:05 pm 
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Oh Um what an awful experience and way to feel. I have no knowledge of your local schoold and being an atheist cannot directly compare my experience to yours. However I recognise the frostiness you talk about from having toured some schools with my DDs in their school attire...no uniform and with one of them on crutches. The thrusting self assuredness of some parents can be very intimidating and ironically was, along with the gawping at my DDs, at its worst at the school we finally chose. I realise now that I had noticed things far more than they had and, having re-visited it that we had obviously had a particularly bad experience. Not that it is not there (as an indie it is the lack of apparent trappings of wealth and success that was/can be an issue), but we had been exposed to the worst of it, and it bugs me much more than it does them. Perhaps if you re-visit you may have a different experience? That said, :shock: at the headscarf ban, ludicrous... If the school is as middle class as posters imply you'd think they'd be falling over themselves to emulate Nigella and her swimming outfit :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:08 pm 
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I should add at that there were a far higher percentage of those sneery parents at the open days than at the first 'welcome' social. Presumably because despite their thrusting and brocade emblazened school uniforms DC still did not pass the exam. Or so I like to think :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 26, 2011 6:09 pm 
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Dear Mad?

Oh that made ne chuckle! Nigella!


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