Choosing between GHS, JAGs and Wimbledon High(23 Posts)
Hi... We’re returning back to the UK later this year. My DD has an 11+ offer for Y7 from Guildford High School, James Allen Girls, Wimbledon High (with a scholarshipAl and LEH with a scholarship. We will ultimately choose to stay close to the schools so the decision on the school is the first to make. We loved all the schools. My DD is a positive optimistic young girl with a wide variety of interests - specially in creative writing - in fact all things writing! Am keen to find a school that goes beyond grades alone to nurture individual talent and gives her the platform to pursue her interests. We’ve see the league tables etc but would hugely value softer insight into these schools to help us make the right decision for her. 🙏
The schools (as you know) are geographically quite a long way apart so I doubt anyone will be able to give you an overview of all four. You're more likely to get ideas about LEH v GHS and Wimbledon v JAGS. FWIW, LEH possibly has a slightly pushier reputation in Surrey but prob. because it has more of a London feel.
Wimbledon's head is inspirational imho
JAGS head not so much
I think all are very similar. Did your DD have any preferences from the interview or open days?
I don't know much about JAGs.
The main difference between GHS and WHS is location. GHS is in a very white middle class market town, girls from a mix of families from those living in Surrey mansions to very hardworking families who prioritise fees over say big holidays. The head has been at GHS a long time now. She isn't sparky in the same way the WHS head is but in more recent years has a much better understanding of teenagers. They do a lot to look after the girls. Loads of opportunities. Friends with DDs there said it could be a bit obsessed with their over-achievers and sometimes there were groups of 'middling' girls who were a little over-looked and discouraged (but this was 10 years ago now).
WHS is a London location and as such it costs a fair amount to live in the area which shapes the demographic of the school. Wimbledon is a lovely place. Head is highly over enthusiastic and creates a buzzing school. Academics are technically slightly stronger at GHS but in reality I'm sure your DD would do just as well at either.
Both are all girls, 'high' schools which always have a certain feel. If I could choose, I would personally do WHS to 16 then move my DD to King's Wimbledon or Westminster if she could get a place.
I'm assuming money is not a concern, if you could just as happily live close to all schools and if you're not bothered about passing up the scholarship offers? You would get much more house for your money the further out of London you were!
I only know GHS, where my girls were/are very happy. We are the wrong side of Guildford to have considered the other schools. Other than creative writing, what are your daughter's interests? If they include sport, music and or drama she won't go far wrong at GHS. They are real strengths of the school. There are some opportunities for creative writing, but I wouldn't say I noticed it being a particular focus (though they regularly have authors in).
I'm assuming that as you are abroad, your daughter will not know anyone at any of the schools. Both my children were the only girls from their primary school to go to GHS, though they did each know one other girl from extra curricular activities. The school was very good at helping them settle in, with lots of activities early on to help the girls get to know each other, and sensible arranging of classes so that those from the same area are in the same class so can travel in together (lots of socialising takes place on the train).
What did your daughter make of the schools? How will she feel about having a scholarship or not? Would it suit her to feel special in that way? Would she feel upset to lose the chance to have the kudos of a scholarship? Or would she be glad not to have to deal with expectations that she will be top of the class?!
Lots to consider, but good to have choices!
Thanks so much all! Fabtastic points. We are pretty much closing in on a choice between WHS and GHS. We are not originally from the UK so cultural diversity is hugely important. Any insights on WHS or GHS around this? Also where do girls tend to go post 16 in GHS or do they tend to stay on ? Many thanks again for all your thoughts and counsel. 🙏🙏
The vast majority of girls at GHS are white, which reflects the local population. I would say the next most common group is probably mixed white/Chinese or white/SE Asian. So it's not a very diverse mix. We are white and from the UK, so I'm not well placed to say how it feels at the school for someone who wasn't. All I can say is that, from what I have seen, those from other ethnic backgrounds are very well integrated.
Most of the girls seem to stay on for the 6th form, and more did that in my younger daughter's year than in my older daughter's. The few classmates of my daughters who left at 16 went either to local 6th form colleges, a co-ed independent school, or girls boarding schools.
Just to pull this back on to JAGS - we're very happy with the school and it is a lot more diverse than the prep we went to. Lots of different backgrounds and ethnicity makes for a great mix.
The Headmistress is a heck of a lot more approachable than the previous head. One of the 6th formers said to us that she felt she could go and talk to the headmistress, she has an open door to the girls. The 6th former was a little fearful of the previous head and didn't find her at all approachable. In terms of interests my DD has loved the drama department and wide range of clubs and activities. They are broadly based around subjects or sports. The girls enjoy them and from my side I can see they do give them an understanding away from the curriculum and a chance to explore a subject in their own way.
These are all great high achieving schools. Why not pick one she got a scholarship to?? Most run scholars programs- don't they??Might be where she could do more creative writing. How happy she is will be based on luck and what her peer group is like. GHS is very white British. The further you go into London the greater the diversity- an advantage for anyone I would say!!
On JAGs... @tinkerella1... What are your thoughts on living in chislehurst. Would this work for commute to JAGs on the foundation school bus. What might be the pros and cons on this? Many thanks. This is such a huge help!
For me it would be between GHS and JAGS - top tier schools both of them. If you want more diversity I'd say JAGS.
I can't get my head round living somewhere just for a school though - you must have a preference that suits the whole family better?!
I really don't know regarding the foundation Bus from Chislehurst - but there is a service so there must be plenty that use it. My DD is on a different route. The bus company do keep you updated via text on the running of the bus, if there are any delays etc. and that is very useful for everyone. My DD gets some of her homework/reading done on the bus sometimes so it's a good use of time on the way home!
She has also made friends with girls from other classes and also Alleyn's kids too so I'm happy with it.
Regarding classes, they do try to put girls into some sort of geographic location so the girls have local friends in their class.
Your DD is obviously a very bright and academic girl, so is definitely going to thrive at any of those schools.
I doubt any of the schools could be said to have cultural diversity, so perhaps it would be helpful to think about the area in which the family would most like to live. Guildford is out of London but still commutable (for hefty train fares) to London. LEH is probably in the most car-reliant area. Wimbledon is a fantastic travel hub and I don't know SE London well, so couldn't comment.
In regard to what I know about the schools, friends with children at LEH have, unfortunately, found it lacking in pastoral care and removed their daughters. The Head there used to be Head at WHS and is very good, so perhaps the culture is changing.
I know GHS is widely regarded as one of the best girls' schools in the country. The Head at WHS is simply outstanding and although the facilities there are probably not as impressive as at the other 3 schools, it is a buzzing and unpretentious London school with brilliant pastoral care and happy, hard-working girls, who are very confident to be themselves and follow their own interests/passions - there is no 'WHS type'. JAGS also has a good reputation, so it seems there's little in it!
Good luck with your decision.
We are also choosing between WHS and GHS, and with the deadlines for accepting places so close I am finding it so hard to decide. We live in Wimbledon so I know the practical choice is WHS but I feel that GHS is a better choice for my daughter who is highly creative. Does anyone know other girls that do the commute to Guildford?
If you live in Wimbledon you would be absolutely mad to send your dd to Guildford every day ... she would be commuting for hours every week and having to get up much earlier in the cold and the dark for at least the next five years. Sleep is incredibly important for teenagers and the best school is one where your child isn’t too tired to get the most out of what’s on offer. Remember too there’ll be lots of occasions when you’d be schlepping out to Guildford in the evening for concerts, plays, parents’ evenings, various talks about options, school trips etc etc. The novelty of heading over to Guildford after a day at work will very quickly lose its appeal...
I agree... going from Wimbledon to GHS is mad. Do-able but mad! WHS is very very similar and knowing the two heads I would guess WHS is actually more creative.
Your DD will have sports matches, music concerts etc after school and end up commuting a long way alone (no one else will be coming back as far as Wimbledon) in the dark or requiring collecting which is 45 minute drive at the best of times - much more in rush hours.
I have known of one or two girls from Wimbledon at GHS but not many.
The only girl from Wimbledon I know who went to GHS had a family who moved to Guildford ("to the country" in their words!!) so she could take up her scholarship there.
If your DD is creative AfterYou then WHS would be the perfect choice!
Your DD would have friends living as far south of Guildford. Do you fancy driving her to friends in Haslemere/Petersfield/ Dorking on the weekend? If she stays late at school for something, do you really want her standing at London Road station (trains every 15 mins when they are on time!)) to catch a train to Guildford and then wait for the one stopping at Wimbledon. All on her own? Or are you going to drive down and get her every time? Also have you thought about the cost of the train fare? Once she's 16 she's no longer a child and if you live in Wimbledon you might not qualify for the SCC subsidised rail card. Go to WHS.. why wouldn't you?
My extremely creative, art loving DD is extremely happy at WHS with plenty of outlets for her creativity, if that helps.
Thank you everyone who has commented. I feel much better informed now when making the decision. I know how important it is to have local friends and an easy commute. I also love hearing that WHS does offer creative choices.
Hi all. Just wanted to say a huge thanks for all the insights. We went back for a decision visit to both WHS and GHS and decided to go with GHS. It just felt right. Really happy with the decision now. And more importantly, I have one happy Daughter with the decision. Once again - many thanks for all the insights. Priceless!
Trains go direct between Wimbledon and London Road, Guildford. There is no need to change at Guildford, which makes it a simpler journey than many of the girls have.
However there is no denying that the big geographical area served by GHS can make life difficult. There are some early morning sports practices and lots of after school activities, which make for a long day for the girls. Hard work for parents too. My daughter has friends in Petersfield and Esher. It is also a real pain collecting from school at midnight after trips to the theatre etc (I live about 30 mins drive away from Guildford).
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