SHSG vs WHSG – Southend VS Westcliff: Can’t decide which offer to take up


We get lots of enquiries of this nature and have done for years. It seems to be a permanent issue which two such good schools available to parents.

We get these queries from parents both applying within catchment and from outside so clearly it’s a decision parents need help on.

What we’ve done is assimilate some of the feedback we have had from parents to try to help those now applying make a choice.

SHSG vs WHSG- Languages vs Science and Engineering

Not all children are interested in either but where children have a scientific or linguistic talent or interest it’s as well to consider that Westcliff has a science and engineering specialism and Southend has a language specialism.

While we haven’t looked into this a great deal ourselves this difference one would expect a wider range of languages to be offered by SHSG and a wider offering in terms of chances to speak languages both within the school and outside term time.

For Westcliff it may mean more resources have been poured into science and engineering and some subjects may be offered which aren’t the norm elsewhere.

Subject choice is a very important aspect  to consider and we know from parents that sometimes where schools only offer combined science or don’t offer German or don’t have a great record in some of the subjects they feel could be of interest to their child that this could be a crucial factor.

You know your child best, but if making a decision between WHSG and SHSG is difficult we’d suggest you look carefully at which subjects they offer and do well in and use that to help you match the right school to your daughter.

SHSG vs WHSG- Performance

We don’t feel from the feedback we have had that this appears to be a great deciding factor for parents. One or other may be ahead in any given year but both are top 100 state schools and both have a very good reputation which they have maintained for years.

The teaching at both is likely to be of a high enough standard to allow your daughter to do as well as their talent, drive and desire allows. It’s likely that their own personal traits will be more important than what the school delivers at this level.

SHSG vs WHSG- Location

This was a deciding factor for many parents, with most choosing the school which was most convenient for them. Convenience in that sense wasn’t necessarily proximity but a combination of ease of accessing transport coupled with how that dovetailed with parents’ own commuting schedules.

It was recognised by most parents we have spoken to that limiting the commute time for their children would be of benefit- for a teenager an extra 20 mins in the morning makes all the difference!

SHSG vs WHSG- Leadership Team

Leadership teams come and go but both schools have been seen to be well led for years. The only time we have picked concerns in this area is where schools are changing leaders, this is quite normal as the leaders of schools such as these have a huge impact on performance.

What we will say is that where concerns have been expressed through a period of change the feedback we have had from parents is that the schools managed the process well and appointed good people to open positions.

Naturally parents may feel they ‘click’ more with one head over another but that’s a purely personal choice.

SHSG vs WHSG- Friendship groups

This was a big issue where we have spoken to parents of boys but hasn’t come through as strongly with the girls schools. This may just be a function of only speaking to a small number of parents.

It would be unusual for children to want to continue on with their friends from primary school, however many parents are conscious that going from the beginning of primary school to the end of secondary with the same friendship group can be a little limiting.

Those parents who have made the choice to go for a different school than many of their child’s friends have reported that the change wasn’t difficult with the child quickly making new friends at the new school.

SHSG vs WHSG- Summary

Both schools are clearly rated highly and parents generally felt incredibly fortunate to be wrestling with this decision.  In the end we felt most parents made the decision either on personal location grounds or on the basis of coupling the school’s curriculum with their daughter’s interests.  It was also the case that some parents took the view that one school over the other was better at music or drama or a particular sport and with both well matched academically this was sometimes the deciding factor.

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