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Secondary education

WHSG or CCHSG

38 replies

lv3112 · 21/10/2023 10:16

Hi Mums,
I'm hoping to find some insight before filling up the CAF form due next week. So our DD has passed the CSSE and is very likely eligible for the Colchester County High School for Girls, but we fell in love with Southend when we went to write the exam at Westcliff and had our hearts set on Westcliff! But now my friends are saying that Colchester County is much higher in the league table, so we should be choosing that, given that DD worked so hard for it. Could anyone please offer some information about how different the schools are, and would we be doing her an injustice if we chose Westcliff instead of Colchester.

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Hgf123 · 21/10/2023 13:10

All of the grammar schools get exactly the same funding per head and get broadly similar results when controlling for intake, so you'd imo be out of your kind subjecting your child to an hour each way's journey, unless your local options were absolutely dire in terms of attainment and behavioural issues etc.

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TwigTheWonderKid · 21/10/2023 13:18

Those schools are a long way apart. Would you move house?

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lv3112 · 21/10/2023 15:34

Oh yes, sorry I didn't mention that, we are renting as of now and plan to move closer to whichever school she gets into.

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Oxonc3 · 21/10/2023 15:45

Go where you have a support network and can afford nicest accomodation in a decent area. Also, in my view, as Colchester only has 1 grammar for girls, whereas Southend has 2, if for whatever reason it doesn’t work out at CCH the non selectives in Colchester are better than in Southend. (By which I mean Westcliff and Southend as Westcliff is a suburb of Southend). Also where do you work- 2 train lines from Southend/Westcliff to London, only 1 from Colchester.

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lv3112 · 21/10/2023 16:08

Both of us work in London, but only need to go once a week or so. DD has scored 373, so stands a good chance to get into either CCHSG or WHSG. What would you consider a decent area, Westcliff or Colchester 😬? Asking as we do not have a support network near either of the places 🙈

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Oxonc3 · 21/10/2023 21:04

I’m sorry I can’t really advise as I cannot imagine moving to an area I don’t know and also don’t know anyone purely for a school. Seems an amazing amount of pressure for a child.

But really you must look up the budget you have for housing and then decide based on where you will get the best home. Home is much more important than school. Westcliff is a suburb of Southend. There is a wide variety of housing stock. Leigh on Sea and Thorpe Bay are the better areas but plenty of nice houses in Westcliff too. Colchester is massive. You need to investigate the housing market.

Anecdotally Westcliff Boys is majority boys from east London and the locals choose Southend. I don’t know if the same is true for the girls. But may be worth considering re friendship
groups. Hard to maintain if everyone else lives miles away. Is SHSG in the mix at all?
Good luck with it.

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spiggydit · 21/10/2023 21:20

lv3112 · 21/10/2023 16:08

Both of us work in London, but only need to go once a week or so. DD has scored 373, so stands a good chance to get into either CCHSG or WHSG. What would you consider a decent area, Westcliff or Colchester 😬? Asking as we do not have a support network near either of the places 🙈

I live in Southend and work in Colchester. House prices are very slightly cheaper in Colchester as it's further away from London. Some lovely areas around Colchester - Wivenhoe for example. My colleagues in Colchester think we're a bit common down here in the not quite as pretty/cultured south of the county. Leigh on Sea is probably the nicest area locally to live and within walking distance/short bus ride to WHSG

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Marcellius · 21/10/2023 21:23

The only reason Cchsg is high in the league tables is because they put horrible amounts of pressure on the girls, have barely any school trips, no work experience arranged, basically act like the fun police most of the time. It’s all about the grades I would be very cautious about sending your daughter there, if I could go back in time there is no way I would have sent mine.

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KnottyKnitting · 21/10/2023 21:42

I have experience both as a visiting teacher and a parent to WHSG. The pastoral care there is fabulous- actually better than the non grammars in Southend( SHSG is also great for this.) We lived out of catchment but have to say - I know Southend well and would advise you not to live in westcliff-not a great area...
Leigh, Chalkwell and Eastwood are nearby and much nicer areas to live. Agree with other posters who say how pressured CHSG is.

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lv3112 · 21/10/2023 22:23

Thank you for the responses mums!

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lv3112 · 21/10/2023 22:25

Oxonc3 · 21/10/2023 21:04

I’m sorry I can’t really advise as I cannot imagine moving to an area I don’t know and also don’t know anyone purely for a school. Seems an amazing amount of pressure for a child.

But really you must look up the budget you have for housing and then decide based on where you will get the best home. Home is much more important than school. Westcliff is a suburb of Southend. There is a wide variety of housing stock. Leigh on Sea and Thorpe Bay are the better areas but plenty of nice houses in Westcliff too. Colchester is massive. You need to investigate the housing market.

Anecdotally Westcliff Boys is majority boys from east London and the locals choose Southend. I don’t know if the same is true for the girls. But may be worth considering re friendship
groups. Hard to maintain if everyone else lives miles away. Is SHSG in the mix at all?
Good luck with it.

Edited

We've only been in the country a few years and went through the 11+ process just because everyone else in the school was (we are in East London - surprise!) and then put off buying a house till until after the exams so we could have more options. I know I should've done my research long before this, but I had my heart set on Colchester before seeing Southend and spending that exam morning on the beach with a most friendly dog 😂 As you mentioned, we do not want to compromise on our needs based purely on DD's education, but neither do we want to deprive her of the education that she deserves, which is why I was asking for honest opinions about the schools.
SHSG is not in the mix right now, but we might consider it depending on where we find a nice house. Thanks for your response!

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lv3112 · 21/10/2023 22:32

Marcellius · 21/10/2023 21:23

The only reason Cchsg is high in the league tables is because they put horrible amounts of pressure on the girls, have barely any school trips, no work experience arranged, basically act like the fun police most of the time. It’s all about the grades I would be very cautious about sending your daughter there, if I could go back in time there is no way I would have sent mine.

Thank you so much for this! I had my suspicions around this, but had no evidence since most parents of cchsg speak very highly of the school. I'm so glad I asked here, thank you!!

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Oxonc3 · 21/10/2023 23:13

Southend High and Westcliff High are 15 minutes drive from each other. They are not 2 different towns, all part of the same urban area.

You are not deprived of beach in Colchester- a short drive gets you to Clacton, Walton, Holland, Mersea.

I would look at the travel costs to London and reliability of the lines.

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Marcellius · 22/10/2023 09:29

No problem. I know there are lots of parents who are happy and whose daughters seem okay in the high pressure, but it’s quite a gamble to take as a huge amount of the girls end up with serious mental health problems - a nurse at the Colchester A&E department said they get loads of girls from Cchsg when we had to go with my daughter. And even the girls who are okay there are still missing out on a lot of experiences they get in other schools like a week of work experience. It’s a real shame but feedback from parents just seems to fall on deaf ears as they single mindedly pursue the best grades possible.

Increasing numbers of the girls are now going elsewhere for sixth form as a result… don’t know the exact figures.

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NoWayRose · 22/10/2023 19:38

Anecdotally Westcliff Boys is majority boys from east London and the locals choose Southend. I don’t know if the same is true for the girls. But may be worth considering re friendship
groups. Hard to maintain if everyone else lives miles away.

You can see this info in the 2024 secondary brochure… I wouldn’t say there’s much in it. In 2023, WHSB took 132 from in catchment, 46 out of catchment. SHSB 135 in, 36 out. And some of these might not be all the way from East Lon.

In case useful for OP, WHSG was 123 in catchment, 56 out. SHSG 101 in, 74 out (in past years it’s actually been much higher for out of catchment tho).

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NoWayRose · 22/10/2023 19:54

That is a great score! I’d really get on Rightmove and see what you can get for your money near the train stations to London.

I’m in a similar predicament, but trying to decide between WHSG and SHSG if anyone has any advice please?! We’re in catchment for both but WHSG is ever so slightly closer. I’d be really happy with both so my main thing is pastoral care and how they deal with bullying. She’s not that sporty but likes drama. Westcliff seemed slightly less warm, but I keep hearing they have great pastoral care! Thank you

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MarchingFrogs · 22/10/2023 20:02

There was a public poster campaign a few years back (on bus shelters etc) to tet to get more parents local to the Southend and Westcliff grammar schools to think about taking to CSSE test. I'm not sure whether it was specific to the immediate area (we're in Leigh, which is where I saw them), or generally within the priority admissions area. I remember one year when DD was in the sixth form at WHSG, the HT being quite excited when it appeared that all the IC places were going to be filled by IC girls. And also a few years previously, a local friend commenting that at the slightest flurry of snow although the school didn't close, her DD's class would shrink to about half a dozen girls, which may have contributed to his excitement re the increased interest from girls within easy travelling distanceHmm.

I'm afraid I'm not much help re WHSG vs CCHSG, other than to do sort of the Irish-when-asked-directions 'I wouldn't start from here' and say 'SHSG', based on DS1 and DD's experience, the one having gone there for sixth form and been happy with his choice and the other having moved from there and wished that she'd stayed.

CCHSG seem to be very focused on the CSSE test scores of their intake and would probably have a fit of the vapours at the concept of taking girls whom SHSG and WHSG would welcome and turn out with a decent set of GCSEs / A levels to boot.

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bijou82 · 23/10/2023 12:42

My DS is considering SHSG for his A levels,it was his clear favorite when we visited. Any advice from a boys point of view would be greatly appreciated. x

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Netaporter · 23/10/2023 20:26

@lv3112 what are the rules around residency and catchment areas for each school before being eligible for an offer and before you move? I think Chelmsford (not Colchester but worth checking) used to have only 25 OOC places allocated strictly on the highest scores but IC places needed residency evidence for at least 12 months including utility bills showing commensurate family usage at said property whether rented or owned. The Southend-based schools tend to be less strict on this and a lot of kids commute a fair distance.

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lv3112 · 24/10/2023 06:37

Netaporter · 23/10/2023 20:26

@lv3112 what are the rules around residency and catchment areas for each school before being eligible for an offer and before you move? I think Chelmsford (not Colchester but worth checking) used to have only 25 OOC places allocated strictly on the highest scores but IC places needed residency evidence for at least 12 months including utility bills showing commensurate family usage at said property whether rented or owned. The Southend-based schools tend to be less strict on this and a lot of kids commute a fair distance.

Yes, Chelmsford does have a catchment area and they only have 36 OOC seats - Although DD has scored 120 and is in Category 1, it's still a hit or miss, so we not considering it for the time being. Colchester is super-selective and does not have a catchment area, while WHSG does. DD's scores are good enough to get into either Colchester or WHSG, so now the confusion is what to put first and where to move to.

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greeshma · 19/11/2023 18:05

Being a mum of a child going to CCHSG you should be considering this school as it is academically very strong. My child is now in her GCSE and I have been seeing the school never degrading at any point. It also encourages kids in various number of sports.

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greeshma · 19/11/2023 18:06

Being a mum of a child going to CCHSG you should be considering this school as it is academically very strong. My child is now in her GCSE and I have been seeing the school never degrading at any point. It also encourages kids in various number of sports.

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MarchingFrogs · 20/11/2023 19:05

@lv3112 , which did you rank first in the end?

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lv3112 · 21/11/2023 10:25

MarchingFrogs · 20/11/2023 19:05

@lv3112 , which did you rank first in the end?

Hey @MarchingFrogs , so we went with CCHS as the first choice, Westcliff as second and CCHSG as third. The original idea was to move closer to Southend and either commute to CCHS if she does get there, or walk to Westcliff, but now I'm concerned that travelling by coach could mean losing out options for after-school activities. Well, if she does get into CCHS, we might just have to give up on the dream of living by the sea :(

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katy114 · 20/01/2024 23:48

my daughter goes to cchsg and it really isn’t all that special. food is over priced, teachers aren’t amazing and travelling an 1 hour to school seems crazy to me. we live locally though. choose the school closest to you as your child won’t be able to meet up with any friends outside of school if not.

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