Hi Handbag 50
I am in exactly the same position as you are. My daughter has scored just over the minimum required to get into Watford girls grammar, and she is also attending a local catholic primary school.
Let me give you a little background information about our family and my DD.We are practising Catholics and I actively participate in volunteering at our local Catholic Church. I also am a Holy Communion Catechist. When my DD was ready to start primary school, we tried in vain to get her into our local Catholic primary school but it was so oversubscribed that year that she stood no chance. As a result,she went to our local school, which is not faith based, but a fantastic little school nonetheless.
When my DD started year 5, we went to look at all the secondary schools as you do, thinking that as practicising Catholics,we stood as much chance as everyone else to get her into Loreto College, St Michaels or Joan of Arc. How wrong we were!
Upon investigation,we realised that we stood a very limited chance of getting her into Loretos or St Michaels as both schools give priority to a long list of Catholic primary feeder schools. Joan of Arc, seemed to be the only realistic option we had as their criteria is based on distance from the school for practising Catholics.
We also went to visit Girls Grammar and absolutely loved it as my DD is an academic child who we felt would thrive in an all girl environment.
After much deliberation, we moved our daughter into our local Catholic primary school (a space had luckily become free that year) in Year 5. We felt that by doing this she could still try for Girls Grammar, and she would also have the option of ALL the excellent Catholic secondary schools on offer as backup.
As things stand now, our preferences are as follows..1 Girls Grammar, 2 Loreto College 3. St Michaels, 4. Joan of Arc. We absolutely adored Loreto College but felt we would be better to put the Grammar first as it is closer to our home, whilst Loretos is in St Albans. Having said that we would be chuffed to bits to get either of our first 2 options for our DD.
We are in the most fortunate position of having a list of 4 outstanding schools for our DD as preferences and having a very realistic chance of getting most if not all of them. (We are hoping DD will get Girls Grammar, maybe not in first round however. She would have done so in the last 5 years) But as I explained we are only in that position because DD was brave enough to move into the Catholic feeder school in year 5.
With regard to Sacred Heart girls school in Harrow, I do not have first hand experience of that. I have heard it is also outstanding on Ofsted and like Joan of Arc does not give priority to feeder primary schools.
Handbag 50... I hope this has helped. Like I said we are going for girls grammar first and this is based purely on the distance issue. I feel that whatever happens however my DD will get a great school regardless.