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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2021 9:36 pm 

Joined: Sat Apr 24, 2021 9:38 pm
Posts: 1
Hello everyone,

I am new to the forum and actually am here for quite a different reason than most of you. I sat the 11+ over a decade ago, back in the days before numerical results were even released, and was fortunate enough to gain entry into King Edward VI Camp Hill School for Girls. I spent all 7 years of my secondary education at CHG, having left the school around 5 years ago. For reference, I completed the CEM 11+. Camp Hill was our local grammar and my first choice, I believe Five Ways and Handsworth Girls were listed next on the CAF. We did not find out scores in October, rather applied blindly and found out on March 1st which school we had been allocated to. I also completed the independent exams for Solihull School and KEHS, and was invited to interview for those too. So - what am I doing here?

Well, I was recently contacted by a family friend whose daughter is fast approaching 11+ age. She has had question upon question for me about my time at CHG, which resulted in me thinking more holistically and neutrally about my time at the school and responding with some frankly essay-length texts! She shared a link to this forum and recommended me to make a post detailing my experience here in case other parents were in a similar boat. And...wow! I have certainly spent more time than I should have trawling through the various threads on here. It is fascinating to hear about things 'from the other side,' having experienced everything from the child's perspective previously. I truly admire and am astounded by the lengths parents go to provide their children with a grammar school education. Hence, without further ado, here is my mini-review:

I cannot say I fully enjoyed CHG during my time there. I was grateful to leave and ready to move on from the school when I did. Thankfully, I never struggled academically, but I was very withdrawn and stressed. I realise now how heightened my anxiety was whilst a student there. I do not blame the school for this, but I do wish staff had taken me aside and actually listened and helped me through my issues rather than throw me into certain speaking or sporting situations that placed a mental toll on me. Perhaps I would have come out of my shell and felt like more of a valued member of the school community, rather than ostracised as I sometimes did. It took me a few years post-Camp Hill to build up my confidence and get to a place where I felt secure within myself. I truly hope the pastoral care has improved in the years since as I know how much even one conversation may have helped. But, that's not to say I despise the school. I try to seek solace and find gratitude in what I see as some of the strong positives of the school instead.

For instance, Camp Hill provided me with a wonderful environment to thrive in academically. I achieved straight A* grades in my GCSE and A levels because I was motivated to work hard and inspired by the high levels of attainment of my peers, too. Many girls achieved similar results, going on to Russell Group universities including Oxbridge. The quality of teaching was variable at best; I had a few amazing teachers, some who were disorganised and others yet who never even bothered to learn everybody's name. Conversely, it is easy to feel like a 'failure' in an environment like this, too. I would be distraught if I ever received an A instead of an A* in a mock exam or assessment, despite the fact that an A is perfectly fine in the real world and nobody ever even cares about your GCSEs once you've reached the A level stage.

Another positive of this school is the diverse social and ethnic environment. There are girls from a range of religions, cultures, backgrounds and races, which makes for a nice and inclusive space. Female strength and independence is a key message reiterated throughout assemblies and women who have accomplished great feats are often presented as role models.

The facilities are adequate but varied - the main school is mostly quite nice however the sixth form block is appalling. I also do not understand why they teach girls swimming in the winter term. The swimming pool is unheated and freezing, and that should be reserved for summer in my opinion.

I also think the introduction of a catchment area is an interesting albeit divisive move. It certainly has its merits and issues. On one hand, I know firsthand how many girls travelled far and wide from all corners of the region to attend the school. There is definitely motivation to cut down on travel time for these children. But on the other hand, I think awarding places on merit alone helped foster a very particular type of academic environment that I personally felt was lost once the school extended the cohort and welcomed external students during the sixth form years.

Ultimately, to any parents who may be upset their daughter/son wasn't awarded a CH place: getting into this school is not the be-all and end-all of life. It is difficult to predict whether or not your child would thrive and flourish most in the Camp Hill environment. I know it is not my place to say this given I am not a parent myself, but I strongly believe that hard work and self-determination are what ultimately helps you achieve those high A* grades and university places, not a school.

Please feel free to ask me any further questions you may have. I come from a single parent family and recall how fraught with worry my mother was during our 11+ journey, so I am more than happy to help in any way I can.

All the best!

PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2021 9:36 pm 

Joined: Tue Apr 27, 2021 9:05 pm
Posts: 1
Hi Diamond Rose :)

I am also new to this forum, like yourself.

I enjoyed reading the very informative description of your time at CHG. Thank you for giving your time to contribute for the good of this forum and the parents who are devoted in trying and get a grammar school place for their children.

I agree that a child's and their family's attitude towards education, their hard work and focussed ambition is what breeds success eventually. But, like you pointed out, being amongst others who are also focussed and wish to achieve, is a great help in this endeavour. Being amongst peers who are not interested in education can mislead and one risks being thrown off the tracks.

It was a little sad that you described some teachers are not so focussed. My reasons for being able to get a grammar school place for my child would be two fold: one to be in a positive and constructive environment and two) to have inspiring teachers. However, I believe parental backing is needed throughout a child's education.

However, best thing is that these schools are ethnically diverse which is ideal for children growing up in a mixed world.

Thanks again for your description!!

PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2021 11:10 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 14, 2017 9:43 pm
Posts: 17
Sirius001 wrote:
Hi Diamond Rose :)

being amongst others who are also focussed and wish to achieve, is a great help in this endeavour. Being amongst peers who are not interested in education can mislead and one risks being thrown off the tracks.

thumbs up, exactly what I want to say,as a parent.

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