As far as WGS is concerned the school suffered badly from the loss of the assisted places scheme (about 40% of pupils were assisted). When this was stopped a lot of bright boys had to look elsewhere and the school has had to be quite innovative to attract paying pupils (Big Six, co-education, Opal scheme). Inevitably this meant that the standard for entry had to be lowered somewhat in order for the school to survive.
Most people I talk to with pupils at the school seem very happy with the education on offer though there seems to be a general feeling that some improvements could be made.
The school has a new head who has come from the KES schools (state grammars) in B'ham. I think he will be very good for the school and will bring back some of the old grammar pride (he is already keen to smarten up the uniforms etc.)
Our son was also offered a place at WGS and we were tempted by the fact it is just down the road. But I think he will fit in better at AGS (with all the other nerds!). Obviously, not having to fork out for fees is an obvious attraction in these precarious times. We also reasoned that if he was deeply miserable at AGS he could probably get a place at WGS, but not the other way round.
We are in very much the same circumstances as yourself ResMum.
He got into QM Walsall and WGS amongst others, but I think AGS pipped the post.
I really do hope that WGS gets back on track to where it was many years ago. I wish them the best.