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 Post subject: DCGS or Chesham Grammar
PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:40 am 
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Hello, I'm hoping to get some advice on which grammar to choose. We are in the lucky position that our eldest passed the transfer test. We are in catchment for DCGS and Chesham Grammar. We have a quiet and quirky, un-sporty, musical child. I like Chesham Grammar a lot. DCGS is obviously a great school but I want to find the school that will give the best pastoral care to my DS - he really needs it. And from what I can see Chesham Grammar has stronger music than DCGS. My DS is also almost anti competitive ie rather than thriving on competition he turns away from it and hides. He's the kind of child that if another child tells him he's cleverest then my DS will just go with that and put himself down. I don't care about who is or who isn't cleverest, I hope that doesn't come across the wrong way, but I want my DS to be in a place where he can build his confidence and belief in himself. Anyone who has experiences of either school and can offer insight - I would be very grateful. I was fixed on Chesham if we were lucky enough to get the transfer test result but now finally being there I am wavering! I should also add that he will know a lot of boys going to DCGS and probably no more than 2 or 3 going to Chesham. Thank you.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:00 am 
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From what you say then I would go with Chesham Grammar. Have you been round both on a school day? Personally I did not like the DCGS site when I last visited and the single gender environment there seemed very competitive.

Go with the school where your son will feel most comfortable.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:04 am 
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He sounds a lovely boy and you sound like a very sensible, grounded parent. Well done to your son for qualifying.

I don't have direct experience of either but a general piece of advice would be to consider some or all of the following (in no particular order):

Single-sex versus mixed environment. Surely the biggest difference between the two schools. Despite my daughter going to an all-girls school (the mixed school was full), I prefer mixed schooling because I consider it better preparation for life which after all, is what school is all about. You need to decide which environment suits your son best.

Travel time and convenience. Which is the easiest journey and has the most flexibility, e.g. do buses/trains run regularly or is one walking distance and the other public transport? This will affect which after-school clubs, societies and events he (and you) can be involved with.

Does he have particular hobbies or interests that one might foster better than the other, e.g. a particular sport or musical activity? Be careful here because some schools can be a bit elitist and only permit involvement where there's a minimum proficiency so what looks like a strength of the school actually is quite exclusive.

Is it practical for you to visit both during a school day before the CAF is submitted? Open days are contrived, you need to see the school during a normal day so you can pick up on things like behaviour in and around classes, the state of the toilets (I'm not joking, it's a good barometer of how proud the students are of their environment), the general feel of the school and the attentiveness of children in class.

I wouldn't worry about where existing friends are going. In my experience, primary friendships often change at secondary and new friends crop up.

Don't get sucked into league tables, etc. Too many parents become fixated on tiny details like minor differences in grade 7-9 percentages, the numbers of children going to Oxbridge, medicine, etc. It's meaningless when it's five to seven years away unless there's a long-standing and clear problem evident from the data. Teachers, head teachers and children can all change every year so you're looking at a moving picture.

Good luck with the choice. Both are good schools, he sounds like he has support at home so I'm sure he'll thrive in either of them.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 11:29 am 
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I have sons at both schools. My eldest is at CGS and he sounds very similar to your son in that he is quirky, un-sporty, musical and uncompetitive. He couldn't be happier at CGS. Has loved his time there and has been brilliantly supported pastorally along the way. And he's really needed the pastoral support. The vertical tutoring works so well for him - it's like his 'family' and also as it's a mix of ages, it feels more relaxed. He's musical but I wouldn't say that there are more musical opportunities at CGS than at DCGS, in fact I think there might be slightly more at DCGS and things are improving there and there have been parent forums to listen to how more can be done.
On the other hand, is brother is very happy at DCGS, but is a very different child. He's sporty and competitive and thriving. I do feel that there is more pressure on the boys at DCGS from earlier on - they have the end goal of GCSEs in sight whereas the approach at CGS is much more relaxed. My eldest wouldn't have coped with the pressure at DCGS, but has come through his GCSEs with great results, his mental health still intact and smiling. My youngest has just qualified and we are once again undecided, but we know that both schools are great and that for him he will thrive at either.
By the way, the pastoral support at DCGS has also been excellent as we have needed this support for our son with unexpected issues that have arisen since he started there.
A mixed school is very different to a single sex school obviously. And a mixed environment has definitely been a much better fit for our eldest. I feel that the single sex environment, certainly for boys makes it feel much more competitive.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 13, 2018 6:21 pm 
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Thank you very much for all the replies, the advice, the very kind words and the insight. I feel very lucky but overwhelmed to have this choice!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:51 am 
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Does anyone have a view on this from a girls perspective? We are going through the same thinking with our DD. She likes CGS because she's been wowed by the textiles and food tech provision, plus it feels smaller to her than DCHS. I think, rightly or wrongly, that she'll be distracted by the learning environment with boys who may be more immature than her. She's only been to a girls school for primary education. She's a fairly confident girl, but in a low key and not gregarious way, who is academically sound, yet performs better throughout the year than in exams. A rounded school experience is really important to her and I believe that pastoral care is going to be key to her success too. Any advise?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:24 pm 
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I have both a son and daughter at Chesham. My son is very happy and has a lovely group of friends. He has never really felt any pressure, other than me nagging at him to do his homework! He’s not particularly sporty or musical but enjoys school. He’s doing well and wants to stay on in the 6th form next year. My daughter on the other hand, is very self motivated and puts the pressure on herself to do well rather than the teachers. To be honest, she enjoys the company of the boys and finds them a relief from the stresses of dealing with girls. She doesn’t find the boys a distraction in lessons and enjoys working with them, from what I hear the children are all well behaved in lessons. My biggest problem with Chesham is their friends come from a wide area, so a trip to a friends house can end up being upto an hours round trip, however the catchment has shrunk in recent years so this may not be so much of an issue now. My daughter is also doing textiles GCSE and loves it. The house events are a great strength of the school and competition between houses, led by the sixth formers is fierce in house sports and music competitions. The concerts and drama performances are well organised and an excellent standard.


Last edited by jjsaz on Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:28 pm 
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If I had a girl then I would send her to a mixed gender school. A girls school can be very b*tchy [I've taught at one and found girls often very unpleasant to each other and some staff if they 'fell out' with that teacher] and personally I loved being a student at one.


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