Dear Bexleymother - I understand your concerns! The downside of having such good selective schools is that, in Bexley we have no truly comprehensive schools. Most of the able children have been creamed off and sent to grammar schools and many of the non-selective schools seem to have the additional problem of being unworkably large.
I've got 3 boys (years 4, 6 and
and we live in Belvedere. We're too far from Erith for non-selective places (although I'm not sure we want one as when we visited last term the group of parents I was with stood outside a classroom and listened to a teacher bawling and screaming at a child (looked year 7 or
. He lost it so completely a couple of teachers from other classrooms came out to try and calm him down..... ) Then of course there's BBA. I have a friend who teaches at a primary school in Thamesmead and she pleaded with another friend of ours not to put BBA down as a first choice for her son. She sees and hears dreadful reports about the behaviour of some of the pupils there. Bexleyheath and, I think, Welling are in special measures. My teacher friend actually lives literally round the corner from Bexleyheath and she tells me that they have had race fights there. A parent of a year 8 boy there told me that he was sitting at a table at lunch time and another boy came up behind him and smashed his head down into the table and broke some of his teeth. You've probably also read in the local press that they are missing Â£1m from their budget ....
I'm waiting for March with baited breath because if my son doesn't pass the 11+ (he did the Kent 11+ as well for Wilmington and Dartford) he probably won't get into our fifth choice, Erith (not that I particularly want him to) and so we will down to choice No. 6 - BEXLEYHEATH!!
As I said in my earlier post, I do know some parents whose children go there and they don't have any complaints. However, I do know other parents who are deeply concerned by the appalling Ofsted report they got last term (if you haven't read it, do look on the Ofsted site). When we looked round last term I was also struck by the almost complete lack of displays on the walls. There were long, long corridors with completely bare walls. Every other school we looked at had lots of information and pupils' work on display. My year 6 son had no views on what we put on his CAF, other than that he doesn't want to go to Bexleyheath.
The only non-selective school in the borough that I hear good things about is Hurstmere but I think you have to live within a mile of that school to get in. Church schools do well and some of them get good reports - I hear good things about Trinity which is just down the road from us, but which has a tight catchment area and, of course, you have to be a regular churchgoer.
I sometimes wish we didn't have selective schools at all and just had good comprehensives in Bexley. But of course all that would happen then is that property prices would shoot up around the best comprehensives.
It's an absolute nightmare it really is! And in Belvedere we have the additional issue of distance from grammar schools. Traditionally we have been right on the edge of the qualifying distance for Bexley Grammar but this year they have reduced their intake by one form which will undoubtedly place us outside the qualifying distance. Similarly we're on the edge for Chis & Sids, and the distance for Beths dropped significantly last year. I know children who have passed the 11+ but not got a grammar school place because they live too far from the borough's grammar schools.
All you can do is keep your ear to the ground and find out as much as you possibly can about the schools before you make any decisions. Good luck!