SHSB vs WHSB – Southend VS Westcliff: Which should we choose?


It’s been quite common for parents to approach us with this dilemma. Many parents are either in catchment for both schools or would score to qualify for both. For many parents it’s a genuine and difficult decision.

Of course for most parents and children emotion or how they intuitively feel about each school will have some impact, for others some very personal issues such as travelling routes fitting in with family schedules might apply.

What we are going to try and do however is flush out some of the differences that parents have told us about and which concern them and have informed their decisions.

SHSB vs WHSB- Sporting differences

We’ve been told by parents that sport is an influencing factor for some boys. Clearly it won’t be the only factor or indeed the most important one but it appears that for boys:

Southend is preferred where their focus is Athletics or Football while for others (particularly ex-private school pupils) Westcliff is preferred for Rugby and Cricket.

Sport is not important to all boys and isn’t a deciding factor for the majority but it does tend to be part of the process for some and naturally a school which does their preferred sport or is strong in their preferred sport or has a better track record may be preferred over the other.

SHSB vs WHSB- Location

While this is to be expected it is worth mentioning. Traditionally Southend boys go to SHSB and those in other areas like Rayleigh opt for Westcliff.

It is quite normal for parents to choose schools which are closer for all sorts of reasons including convenience and indeed often it’s a sensible reason to make a choice because children who have less commuting time are more likely to have more time for outside interests and indeed homework which all aid their development.

While we haven’t particularly seen this coming through from discussions we have had we are sure that how the whole getting to and from school dynamic works for each family will have a major impact on their choice. Proximity is something we have seen come through but it is by no means the only influencing factor in this area.

SHSB vs WHSB- Headmaster/School leadership team

For good reason parents seek out schools which are well led because they tend to do better. However in our view both schools are and have been well led and perform well as a result. Parents have fed back preferences to us but where this happens they tend to mention that they personally ‘clicked’ more with one headmaster than the other or that they felt one was a more dynamic presenter etc.

While it is an important area, it’s likely that this will come down to a personal decision based on each families  own experiences at open days etc.

SHSB vs WHSB- Recommendations from other parents

Parents often seek recommendations from other parents and seek to build up a picture from there. In our experience we haven’t found any parent who has anything other than positive things to say about each school. Individual parents will highlight one aspect over another or one difference over another but it is clear that this is just their preference. As an example some parents preferred SHSB over WHSB because for a while SHSB put children into sets (particularly) for Maths more quickly than WHSB.

SHSB vs WHSB- Friendship influences

This is a very interesting area. While parents have uniformly said that their children were keen on one or the other depending on where their friends were going parents were more divided.

Some parents took the view that their children needed to be happy and if being with their friends made them happy then so be it.

Other parents took the view that old school friends could still be seen in clubs etc outside school but that it would be better to mix with more fresh faces. These parents were worried that going through primary school and secondary school  In the same friendship groups would get stale and that children would benefit from some more variety.

In our experience children nearly always will say sticking with their friends is a primary motivator but those who have gone to different schools also appear to quickly develop new friendships and are no less happy (albeit they have some additional first day nerves).

Other pages of interest for parents preparing for Essex 11 Plus Exams:

    If you have questions which we have not addressed in our forum pages, please feel free to submit them via the form provided below.

    Your Name (*)

    Your Email (*)

    Your Message

    Which 11 Plus Exam Preparation Options Are Right For You ?

    11 Plus Private Tutors

    • Personalised Work
    • 1-1
    • High feedback levels


    • VERY Expensive
    • Lots of work at home
    • Lots of travel

    11 Plus Tuition Centres

    • Structured work
    • Third party involvement
    • Some feedback


    • Some children don't progress
    • Lots of work at home
    • Lots of travel

    11 Plus Guided Courses

    • Structured work provided
    • No wasted time
    • Help and advice on hand


    • High parental commitment
    • Cost higher than DIY

    11 Plus DIY- Books

    • Parents in full control
    • Work can be totally tailored
    • Lowest cost


    • Difficult to plan well
    • Difficult to deliver well
    • Maximum parental effort