Well done to your sister wsc! when is her Bancrofts interview? My DD has hers tomorrow, but I have heard that the letters didn't even get posted out yesterday as the admissions lady was off sick. Not good for the nerves of everyone else who is waiting for news!
RE the three schools Bancrofts V Chigwell V Forest. It is such a tricky one as they all have so much to offer in slightly different ways.
Bancrofts, as I see it, certainly has the reputation as being the most successful academically. But is also has a reputation of hothousing the kids to get these results and you do hear horror stories that the most successful students there are all tutored up to the hilt, and that without that extra help your kid might struggle to keep up. Despite that, it commands the most impressive surroundings and I think we would find it quite hard to turn down a place there for my DD as I think she would enjoy the academic environment! It did strike me when we visited the school for the open evening all those months ago, that the art department was particularly unimpressive compared to all the other schools that we toured and art it IMO a great comliment to a very academic curriculum. I have heard that they have plans to build a new art block, but don't know how soon this is likely to happen?
Forest to me seems like to most down to earth of the three. Its not that the setting isn't impressive as some of the building are beautiful, but somehow to me it seemed like a really good state school should be. Much less airs and graces than the other two and I felt that it had a homely feel that I really warmed to. The single sex teaching is a real advantage IMO as it caters for the best of both worlds in that girls and boys have the opportunity to mix without the distractions and negatives that co-ed teaching can supposedly bring. Obviously strong in music and sport and has the reputation of getting more than its share into med school, if that's you DC's aspiration!
Chigwell as the smallest of the three has definitely got the best community feel, but yes it is the most expensive, which has to be a consideration when you have three DC as I do! Again I get the feeling that it is a strong all rounder, especially good on sports. I would like to hope that the wonderful drama centre would mean that there is an opportunity for students to flourish in the arts as well as academia. The outdoor pool is a bit of a letdown especially for my DD who is a keen swimmer and would want to make the swimming team wherever she goes.
In conclusion... it is so tough, epsecially when like me, you are just praying for one offer, to choose one. To have to make the choice will be a nice position to be in, but not one I am at yet.. sorry if that's a cop out!