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Given: an academicish child, though not a genius. Loves arts and music, less keen on reading and sports. Commuting distance is roughly the same. Both schools allow her to take subjects she wants (maths+physics line).
SHHS delivers substantially better exam performance and apparently is a tougher place to study. G&L feels more relaxed. What is special about G&L which would justify 20% higher fees? I would be grateful for any experience and opinions, thanks in advance.
I am an ex Dolphin and loved every minute of it. The teachers were excellent, the facilities all of a very high standard and the girls/friends were lovely. I was on a full scholarship but I was never made to feel inferior by the richer girls. A great school which and one I would highly recommend. Many fond memories indeed.
SHHS is a GDST (Girls Day School Trust) school and their fees are lower than any of the other schools at that academic level. Lower down the school the class sizes are larger - 30 or 28 per class rather than 22 (SPGS) or 24 (G&L). GDST schools tend not to do a lot of fundraising at a parent level & the facilities tend not to be ultra amazing - still very very good.
Find out what the class sizes are, how many maths groups do each of the schools have, if 60 girls do maths a level are they in 4 groups or 3 as this will make a difference. (you can see from the results tables how many girls do maths etc.) Using the results tables you can learn which school gets more pupils into the subjects your daughter wants to study - if 30 girls do physics a level but none do physics at Oxbridge why not? If there are 100 girls how many achieve places at medical schools - gives you some indication of drive within the 6th form. What extra curricular opportunities are there? G&L does world challenge, what does SHHS offer? How much choice is offered to the girls?
In your situation I would look at leavers destinations & grades achieved in your daughters subjects.
G&L girls seem happy & fun - loads of wonderful 18ths for your daughter to look forward to - girls who don't have the fancy parties don't seem to feel left out, anxious etc, just happy to have generous friends.
Another factor is that v academic girls who live in West London will probably go to SPGS (for right or wrong reasons) & so G&L has a wider ability range.
G&L has great new music block, recording studios etc & has famous musician parents currently & alumni. Conor Maynard played a gig at G&L last year at lunchtime & another band did two years ago so the music dept is obviously v active & open minded.
Succubi, Eastpoint, thank you both. The further I read about the schools and look in the destinations, the clearer it is that the choice is to be between strong education in SHHS and fun in G&L. Going to open evenings in different schools DD met some girls leaving SHHS for 6th form. I wonder, is it because of the unnecessary for them academic pressure or the atmosphere in the school (bullying, cliques, etc) not that great.
Both schools lose girls at sixth form to mixed schools, previously Westminster, but increasingly (for G&L at least for geographic reasons), to Kings Wimbledon and Latymer Upper.
I have not looked up the numbers but assume the G&L sixth form is larger. It offers IB as well as A level which is a major attraction for international (eg European and American) parents for whom the broader approach fits in better with entry to University abroad. If nothing else this would account for the higher fees. It would also allow for a larger science department as all IB students need to study science.
My understanding is some pupils seek to leave SHHS because it is relatively small and they are seeking to spread their wings, and indeed some will move to G&L or SPGS. However there are advantages in being in a smaller school where teachers will get to know you quickly and write an informed school reference, and there may be more scope to play an active part in school life.
I would agree that it is worth looking at the number of girls taking science, the size of classes, and facilities. Also the approach to setting. Being able to split out the natural mathematicians from the merely sound, is a real advantage at this stage as it allows each child to be taught at the pace that suits them. (Both my DC are sound, rather than natural, and over the years they have found being in a class with those who find maths very easy to be a mixed blessing. They are both much better to be top of a second or third set.) These schools are selective and they will expect all their students to be capable of an A if not an A*, especially coming into the school from outside.
Also what school did your daughter like best and why? They are both really good schools. In the end it may be hard to predict which school will have the inspirational teacher or the life-long best-friend.
UCS is the linked boys school to South Hampstead and takes girls in the 6th form. I imagine that is a big reason why many leave. I wouldn't read anything sinister into it, lots of the girls probably just fancy a change.
We've seen SHHS girls in Highgate coed school, which attracts girls for 6th form even from CLSG.
I can't say that G&L much larger than SHHS. Highgate and Latymer Upper, they are large, each of them are as G&L and SHHS combined. Anyway, if I were pursuing pleasures of a small school, Francis Holland Regents Park would be my choice (I was totally charmed, tiny school, amazing teachers).
G&L leads in facilities, because SHHS will still be a building site for the next year. Which, in turn, will bring a pristine building the year after.
DD says that it is a difficult choice. She liked teaches she met in G&L, and she liked people she met in SHHS. She slightly more inclined in G&L direction, but not to the degree which would make these questions on MN unnecessary.
I was only citing the 'fun' stuff at G&L as the academic prospects at any of the schools are high enough for a child who wants to achieve. I think it's very important for pupils to enjoy school & the opportunities they are offered while they are there. It's easy to just look at the academic side & make decisions based on those while ignoring what the child actually enjoys.
Can she go & spend a day in the 6th form of each shadowing someone doing similar subjects or at least attend a lesson? Do the two schools have similar requirements for gcse grades?