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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 9:59 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:21 am
Posts: 24
Hi everyone,

I would really very much appreciate constructive advice with regard to choice of Grammar School. I know that majority of people choose Chelmsford girls as their first preference. What is that which makes this school so special when compared to Westcliff. According to BBC league tables, Westcliff is doing very good for the past two years. I would really like to know what are the advantages of studying in Chelmsford over Westcliff.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:21 am 
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Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:47 pm
Posts: 698
Location: Essex
All of the Essex and Southend GS are fantastic. At that level I don't think league tables are helpful in differentiating between the schools. Most individuals would do just as well at any of them. The schools can have a different "feel" to them and I would say it's best to visit the schools and choose which one suits your particular child.

I think the Chelmsford schools tend to be first choice because of geographical location. Some parents are also drawn to what they see as the cachet of their DC gaining a place at the school which is seen to be the most difficult to get in. The Southend schools set a lower standard for local applicants. Perhaps that puts off some parents. I'm coming from a north Essex perspective. Southend residents might explain it differently. Are you sure they prefer the Chelmsford schools? I think if my DC was in catchment for the Southend schools I'd be inclined to choose them over Chelmsford simply because they are easier to get to.

The new admissions rules might change things.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:26 am 
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I think it all depends on what your preferences are and what you think will suit your child best. Both schools are very good and produce excellent results. I suggest you visit the schools and make your decision based on what will suit your child.Most people choose CCHS as the first choice because it requires higher scores than the other schools so if you like the school, then it has to be your 1st choice when you fill in the schools applications forms.

During the open days in September, DD loved Westcliff but didnt like Chelmsford's set up and I felt the same way. she is into sports, music , sciences and we feel that with her personality, she will thrive and enjoy studying better at WHSG. We selected westcliff as our first choice and didnt bother to put CCHS on the CAF despite the fact that CCHS is a shorter commute.
I have noticed that with some people, there is this superior mindsight that Southend and Westcliff schools are inferior to Chelmsford and that kids that choose these schools are either not sure of passing 11+ or too scared that they wont get into CCHS so they choose the Southend schools. This assumption is untrue and I believe all the Essex Grammar schools are very good.
I have had some people ask me if DD is going to Westcliff because she didn't get into Chelmsford and that maybe I should try and put her on the waiting list! I find this statement so annoying. In our case, we chose the school based on what will suit DD best and I'm glad she got a place in the school she wanted.

Rant over!Not sure if I have answered your question though.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:42 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:14 pm
Posts: 60
I completely agree with the above for us as a family we selected our first choice school based upon what we all thought would suit our daughter. We live pretty much equidistant from ChCHS and WHSG and SHSG we selected SHSG as Our first choice because she enjoys languages and sport and the school is a designated Language College. Similarly our friends selected WHSG as their first choice because their daughter is passionate about Maths and Science. Whilst all schools offer similar subjects and produce similar results, it is really down to personal preference and where you all feel your daughter would be best suited.

Visit all schools and try to imagine your daughter there.......if she likes it and feels comfortable then you are half way there !

Good luck


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:04 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 03, 2012 11:21 am
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Hi friends,

Thanks for sharing your views. We live in Surrey and haven't seen any of Essex schools personally till now. We were in confusion while choosing one school over the other as they all seemed good. We really didn't know what points to consider while listing the preferences. So, we looked at OFSTED reports and BBC league tables to check which one is doing better. Friends advised to put CCHS as first choice as they also heard that it's a very good school through others, but they too haven't got a clue why is it so.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:17 am 
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Joined: Wed Dec 21, 2011 10:02 pm
Posts: 93
All the GS in Essex are excellent so it's a question of how the school feels and what is best for your DC - taking account of the commute and their interests as well.
Our DS did not like the set up at KEGs at all, and that dictated our choice. Also we wanted him to make friends with kids living locally rather than those commuting long distances so he would have some local mates, which is important to teenagers even if not the only factor to base a decision on.

As far as the snob element goes, all children who get into an Essex grammar (and some who don't!) are very bright and all of the schools have some superbright children.

Also remember that league tables don't always show the value add - because the chelmsford schools are so popular, the combined score of their intake in the 11 plus is more than the combined combined score of the intakes at the Colchester or the south essex schools. But does that translate into a better outcome at GCSE or A Level - I suspect not or only marginally better - in other words the Chelmsford schools don't add any more value than the others.

As for Ofsted, they have a particular set of criteria to consider and should be viewed in that context. It is relevant but does not necessarily equate to your own personal judgment based on the criteria most relevant to your DC
Ignore the snobbery and choose what feels best


Last edited by MrsB on Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:39 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 11:30 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 18, 2010 6:47 pm
Posts: 89
Like most people have said, it really depends on your own child, their interests, strengths etc etc. It is a very subjective thing, like most things in life, so visit them all with your child to see which you feel suits her best. However, I personally strongly feel that travelling time is a huge issue and needs to be considered carefully. It might all be well and good when the roads are fine in the summer etc, but what about road-works, rail-strikes, appalling weather conditions etc etc? All needs to be taken into account if you are considering sending your child on a huge commute every day.

For us (living a 10 minute walk away from SHSG), to put Chelmsford wouldn't make sense at all. I'm really not one of those mothers who would want my child taking on a huge commute every day - I know lots of kids do it, but that's not for me or my child. If we lived nearer to Chelmsford than Southend, then Chelmsford would have been our first choice.

As far as differentiating between the schools with regard to 'superiority' - god, I hate that word lol!!....I'm thrilled that my child will be getting a grammar school education regardless of which school it is at and regardless of others' opinions of each individual grammar school. And anyway, if there are any parents out there who think that their child may well do better at Chelmsford or elsewhere rather than a Southend grammar, I'll challenge them to come back here on this forum at the end of year 11 and compare exam results lol!!! That would be interesting...ooh, I'm such a trouble-maker.... :lol:

I am fully aware that Chelmsford requires a very high pass mark, so yes, it would have taken more work on my daughter's part to even contemplate applying for a school like that. Again, I suppose the 'prestige' of going to a school that requires such high marks is, of course, very eppealing to some parents and, to be honest, why not!! I'm exceedingly proud that my daughter managed to gain a gs place with her marks, but if she'd managed to get very high marks, yes, I expect I would have been a wee bit more smug lol!!! (meant in the nicest possible way people, please don't take offence...). :D

Geographically, we are very fortunate and the fact that she will be home at the latest 4pm every day and will have plenty of time for homework, friends, out-of-school activities etc etc suits us just fine.

Good luck with the decision-making and I suspect that my rant hasn't helped one bit.... :lol:


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:33 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 10, 2011 3:03 pm
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The previous entries have explained what you need to know really. I am just going to add my personal view and experience. My DD loved WHSG the first time and since the open evening we have a sticker of the school on our car dashboard. She loves the little innocent girl that chaperone us during the open evening, the atmosphere, the honesty of the head teacher speech etc.
We went to CCHS and she found it limited in space and it does not feel right to her. She opted to have CCHS as 1st choice because our next door neighbour son goes to KEGS and they can travel together, but as God will have it she was offered WHSG and she was so thrilled about it. When I jokingly told her that she is next on the waiting list for CCHS she wasn’t happy at all and stated "don't bother mum I want to be in Westcliff".
Couple of years back I have been told that at least a girl left CCHS because she could not cope academically may be she would have strive better in other GS or even local comp.
Any GS will do it for me really and I am so proud of DD for getting an offer. Her teacher during parent consultation evening was full of praise for her as she matures and shows interest in her learning, all this because of the focus way of learning that we developed while she was studying for her 11+.
In summary all GS in Essex are excellent. If you live local it is added advantage to you. We live in LBBD.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 3:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Dec 15, 2011 9:56 pm
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I have been in a similar dilemma previous years. We went on a revisit to all schools on normal day. We then had to think about after school activities at school ie sport music etc. I did not want child travelling alone, the train journey is fine but the walk to station. Also as tests and gcses approach many children like to get in around 8 am so as others have said, ease of travelling very important. Good luck!


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2012 4:04 pm 
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Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2011 6:38 pm
Posts: 6
Just to add a curve ball into the mix, Chelmsford County High may have been afforded this reputation as a high achieving school based on past gcse / gce league tables. However, schools like Colchester County High have quietly positioned themselves up the league. It kind of reminds me of the time Sainsbury were number 1 grocery store till they were overtaken by Tesco. I believe all the grammar schools in Essex are exceptional and have qualities that will attract different students (one man’s food is another’s poison, so the saying goes)


Jojo15 :D


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