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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 8:54 pm 
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Hello, this is my first post on the forum and I'm hoping for advice on what I think is probably one of the toughest choices a parent will ever make.

My DS is starting secondary next September and we've just spent the last couple of weeks in a whirlwind of open mornings and evenings. His favourite school was Wilmington for its friendly vibe but he also liked DGS too; he was ambivalent about Gravesend GS, he said he didn't find some of the boys very approachable/encouraging. On the other hand, I was really impressed by DGS infrastructure/facilities and teachers, although I was also really taken with GGS for the same reasons - especially the teachers. WGSB - boys seemed great and very positive about the school, teachers likewise although the school was showing a lot of wear and tear (I know buildings do not a school make but couldn't help make comparisons to DGS and GGS).


I would be really grateful for parents of boys at either Wilmington, Dartford or Gravesend GS to share their experiences here, both positive and negative, along with the pros and cons of their son's school to also help me decide what will be the right choice for my son as I find it's hard to get the true measure of a school based on just these events.

I've looked carefully at the admissions and oversubscription criteria for the 3 schools (and cut off scores both IA/OOA for DGS) and believe that he's got a reasonable chance of getting into DGS or GGS but probably not Wilmington based on distance, although it's his preferred choice.

Any experiences/advice welcomed!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:36 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:59 am
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fawn wrote:
Hello, this is my first post on the forum and I'm hoping for advice on what I think is probably one of the toughest choices a parent will ever make.

My DS is starting secondary next September and we've just spent the last couple of weeks in a whirlwind of open mornings and evenings. His favourite school was Wilmington for its friendly vibe but he also liked DGS too; he was ambivalent about Gravesend GS, he said he didn't find some of the boys very approachable/encouraging. On the other hand, I was really impressed by DGS infrastructure/facilities and teachers, although I was also really taken with GGS for the same reasons - especially the teachers. WGSB - boys seemed great and very positive about the school, teachers likewise although the school was showing a lot of wear and tear (I know buildings do not a school make but couldn't help make comparisons to DGS and GGS).


I would be really grateful for parents of boys at either Wilmington, Dartford or Gravesend GS to share their experiences here, both positive and negative, along with the pros and cons of their son's school to also help me decide what will be the right choice for my son as I find it's hard to get the true measure of a school based on just these events.

I've looked carefully at the admissions and oversubscription criteria for the 3 schools (and cut off scores both IA/OOA for DGS) and believe that he's got a reasonable chance of getting into DGS or GGS but probably not Wilmington based on distance, although it's his preferred choice.

Any experiences/advice welcomed!!!


Welcome to the forum!
I have 2 boys at DGS. We also thought a lot about the best school for our eldest. He didn’t help much as he kept changing his mind. We took the decision, at the time, based on the best fit. When it came to our second child, all he wanted was to be at his brother’s school.
I have posted on another thread that DGS is very different as it offers the IB not A levels. Also, the school prepares the boys to do well at the IB by making certain subjects compulsory, such as 2 languages, one of which must be either Japanese or Mandarin.

You’d need to see what would be better for your son.

With regards to the school facilities, teachers and headmaster, the school is great. With regards to their grades, they make the boys work very hard.

I have heard very good things about Wilmington and GGS.

Salsa


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:52 pm 
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Thanks Salsa. I appreciate the quick response especially as SCAF deadline starts to loom!

We went to DGS open morning a couple of weeks back and their open evening tonight. Mr Oakes did stress the importance of languages in transforming the boys into confident global citizens. My son has been doing French at primary; how easily did your sons take to Mandarin or Japanese? I've heard they are trickier than many other languages!

What about the atmosphere of the school? Did your boys settle in quickly? Is it a friendly, caring place in addition to its academic demands?

Many thanks


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 18, 2018 10:26 pm 
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Hi, I’m glad you liked it.

My sons chose Japanese and it’s hard. It has 3 alphabets to begin with! I also hear that Mandarin is equally hard. They can express a preference for the second language, which they start in year 8. (French, German, Latin and Spanish) However, Spanish is very popular and not all children get their first choice. Both of mine got their first choice.

Like in all schools, you get children that are not very kind and as the boys have a policy of “no snitching” things often do not get reported. Although if they did the school would deal with incidents very seriously. The child, though, may find himself in a difficult position for being branded a snitch.
I have found most of the teachers to be caring, but there are some very strict ones. My youngest has the benefit of my eldest’s knowledge, who tells him who is “more bark than bite”! So, he knows who he shouldn’t cross and that his shirt should always be tucked in!
I like the fact that there are lots of male teachers who could be good role models. The curriculum is designed to make it interesting for them and at lunchtime you can see a chaos of football matches being played in the playground.
It is a very multicultural and multiethnic school.
Both my boys made friends quickly, but my youngest had the added bonus of joining with his best friend. As well as knowing all about it from his big brother.

Also, they have to choose one of the following GCSEs: PE, Art, Drama, Music, DT and Computer Science. They couldn’t take more than one of these subjects.

I would highly recommend the school, but expect your son to work hard.

Salsa


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:52 am 
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I am a big advocate for WGSB. The boys are worked hard, but are also looked after. There is a big focus on values and community, but also on academic achievement. My boy has loved it there from the very day he started.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 12:45 pm 
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I think you have to go with the best fit for your son. My DS is now year 12 at DGS. He’s very sporty and musical and the school offers many opportunities for both. He did very well in his GCSEs and is enjoying the IB. He also studies Japanese and has continued with it at IB level as he really enjoys it. My DD also moved to DGS for sixth form and did well in her IB to get a place at her first choice university.

Good luck with your decision.


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:17 pm 
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Thanks again Salsa for the inside information; it's all very helpful and also thanks to AJ27 and Bondgirl. It's so useful to hear honest parent views and not just open evening "propaganda"! I would love to hear more details about life inside WGSB too AJ27 if you don't mind as it's my son's fave so far - I appreciate that boys' schools will be lively and boisterous places but do you know of any issues with bullying (verbal +/- physical) and how the school deals with it?

Any info much appreciated!!!


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 19, 2018 9:48 pm 
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My son startedWGSB this sept, we hadn’t had a opportunity to visit WGSB before filling the CAF and were very keen on DGS for IB and music. my son was on WL for DGS, we appealed and didn’t get a place. But my son is loving WGSB, proudly contributed on open evening and also as council rep. Really enjoying afterschool sports clubs and school seems very child friendly. Definitely appears to be less strict but main attraction was engineering and theirDT seems very strong, and my son seems to be more keen on technology instead of languages. A good fit is for you to decide. Good luck with your ur choice.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:00 pm 
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Thanks Rsinsinwar, I'm so glad your son has settled in quickly at Wilmington and is happy there; that's great to hear. I know WBGS is next to the girl's grammar and Wilmington Academy; is there any rival fighting between the students of the different schools at the end of the day do you know? I heard some second hand playground gossip so uncertain if there is any truth behind the stories …


Also Salsa and Bondgirl, I had a couple of DGS specific questions; is it ok to PM either/both of you before I complete the SCAF?


Many thanks


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:12 pm 
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Joined: Tue Sep 03, 2013 9:59 am
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You may, although if it’s not a personal question, it’s better to put it in the open forum as it may benefit other parents.

Salsa


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