Moving to the UK - trying to find good school that we can get into(20 Posts)
Apologies this will be a bit long winded.
We are a Kiwi/English family who have moved from our beloved Hahei Beach on the Coromandel Coast of NZ to France. Pommie hubby works on a boat that was supposed to be based in Sth of France so 4yo son & 8yo daughter & I up sticks & made the move to France in July 2012.
Boat no longer based in France!
Kids have had a horrific experience at the hands of the French School System & have gone from being kids who loved going to school & kindy To now loathing having to go to school.
Granted the language barrier has been a huge factor, but sadly the French School system is a rather heartless, souless place for a young person to be locked up in - and I do mean locked up. It's like sending your kids off to prison. As a parent you arrive at the gate no later than 8.25am, push them through & then you're locked out until 4.30pm when they are pushed out the gate to you. You can't get much different to what we've come from in NZ.
In our first 7 days in school either my children or I were screamed at by the Directrice for things such as ... going through the wrong door, my daughter taking her brother to his class, being late due to traffic congestion saw us locked out & being screamed at through the door. The kids were forbidden to see each other during break time - pretty harsh being 2 of only 8 English speaking kids in a school of 350.
Moved kids from this school after 3 weeks to school we are paying for, who seemed to be a little more sympathetic to our situation & had only 13 in 8yo daughters class so said they would have time to spend with her to help her move on with her language skills. Lip service I'm afraid as they confirmed to me that they have continued to teach as normal and expect daughter to pick it up eventually. She has been yelled at for refusing to stand up in class and read out loud in French after only 6 weeks in a French School. I was told she knows nothing & is clearly behind in everything but they will not sit down with me to make a plan to help her. Teacher has had the whole class laughing at her because she has done things differently to everyone else.
4yo son's teacher was bullying him for not taking enough care with his writing. I was told that he needed to be shocked into making an effort & that his work was that of a pig. Reminding them that he is only 4 & is a running, climbing trees, swimming kind of kid who only became interested in using pens & crayons 4 or 5 months earlier so doesn't quite have the skills and control they seem to expect, all but fell on deaf ears. Basically my kids have been traumatised by a bunch of people who have shown no compassion or humanity, let alone show any positive teaching attributes.
So .... we are looking to move to the UK so kids at least don't have to struggle with the language. What a minefield though trying to find a good school. We are not really bound by any particular area, though I am keen on smaller schools which means more rural by the looks, which is good. Hubby's brother in Cornwall & have contacted schools there but everyone that seems to be like home is oversubscribed as as we're not bound to any faith it seems that unless we get a house on the doorstep of the school it is unlikely we'll get in.
In-laws live in Stevenage, cousins in Cambridgeshire & Essex and as a Kiwi I'd like to live by the coast. What to do? Where to go? Have been told need to find house in zone for secondary school as that's even harder to get into than primary. It's a daunting task & I've been trawling the web for weeks.
If anyone can recommend a great primary that has a great secondary to feed to that's not a school of 1200 students (NZ school had 140) & is by the coast with a safe community, good sports facilities (little ripper rugby for the up coming All Black & hockey & netball for the Silver Fern) would be greatly appreciated.
Too much to ask for?
Of course we don't have an address to give to council either as we're not in the UK yet so we can move anywhere for the best life we can find in the UK.
Thanks all for reading the novel above & any advice.
PS - visiting UK on a reccie from 11 Feb to 03 March. Booking up to visit with schools while we're there.
Loads of great state primary and secondary schools in Bournemouth/Poole area which is by the sea. There have been threads on good areas to live and schools to try (though they are all good) so maybe worth a seach? Good luck. Sorry about your French school experience. I have heard it can take 8 months minimum for expat DCs to even start to settle down.
no help on the specific schools I'm afraid, but just a word of warning for planning your recce visits - check half terms dates, as they vary across the country. In my area, they are the 11-15th February, and in other areas, it's the week after 18th-22nd February. If you were planning to visit different areas, you might accidentally end up scheduling it so that you hit half term for most of the time you were here, and had to see them all in that last week.
Some quite small schools in towns too; in my town, it varies from 1/2 form entry (i.e. 15 per year) to 3 form entry (i.e. 90 per year) quite close to each other. One form entry schools are not really that big overall, and there are lots of them around even in non-rural areas. It might be easier to get two children into a larger school though, because there will be greater turnover.
Thanks very much CloudsAway.
Have been working areas to visit round 1/2 term breaks.
What do you mean by 1/2 form entry - does that mean how many new places at school in a year? S'cuse my ignorance - this is my first experience with anything to do with the UK education system.
Castlesintheair - had expected to give France a year to settle in, but the education system here is so unforgiving & it's like talking to a brick wall. I've been told that the school has no intention of doing anything for daughter for first year & will then push her on to the next class so that she'll constantly be behind. Very frustrating dealing with the system & I just want happy kids again. Will miss the sunny weather!
The maximum class size in the first three years of school here is 30. So schools that take in 30 per year have one form (class) per year group. (Not that they are necessarily taught in year groups, but there would be 30 on roll for each year). Bigger schools might take 60, the equivalent of two full classes each year, so they would be two form entry. Or even 90 per year, three full classes each (three form entry). etc.
Some small schools might only take 15 per year though, so only half a class worth (half-form entry), and these would likely be taught in mixed year groups. Or others might take 45 new starters each year, so 1.5-form entry. Again lots of mixed-year group classes in these schools.
In some schools where the buildings/classrooms/etc are different sizes, you can get other numbers that aren't multiples of 15/30/etc., either taught as small classes or as mixed year groups. Odd numbers for entry can make a difference when it comes to admissions and/or appeals. Talking about a school as one-form entry/two-form etc is just a short cut for meaning approximately how many there are in each year; there are various other more precise terms that the admissions and appeals people use.
The good news is, that for your 8/9 year old the fact a school is full, doesn't necessarily mean you can't get a place. This is because from year 3 (age 7 by 1st September) there isn't a legal requirement to only have 30 in a class. You maybe able to get your older child into a school on appeal. The LA also has to offer you a school place within a "reasonable" amount of time.
I would be cautious on what you think of as a small school, as bigger, and definitely full schools can have much better funding, including for "extras" such as SEN resources and specialist teachers.
Two families I knew took their children to France for a year, one family moved the the Alps, had a great time and as far as I know never came back. In the other family their DD said she was moving back at the end of the year with or without her parents. So good luck.
You poor things. Ex Kiwi here from Tauranga/Waihi/Hamilton so can understand your longing to live by the coast and I hope you find somewhere lovely.
We live in NW London, 3 hours min from the sea and my 4 have only ever known the English School system so can't help you with location. I do agree with the others to think about the effect that school size has on funding.
Come to Dorset. Really lovely coastline and lots for the kids to do. Very family friendly.
Ds is at private school but the schools in Dorchester have an excellent reputation. Schools in Weymouth are not bad either. Many villages around with smaller schools too. If you want further info PM me.
If you'd consider Wales have a look at the feeder schools for Bishopston Comprehensive. Its population of approximately 1100 students, aged 11-16, is
drawn principally from six partner Primary schools: Bishopston, Crwys, Knelston, Mayals, Newton and Pennard. Bishopston primary has a Forest School teacher, if that appeals.
The secondary would be a good school for sports and English is the first language for most pupils. However your children might be expected to learn Welsh.
Essex has a good Grammar school in Colchester Royal but Essex can be an interesting place to live.
If you buy a house near an oversubscribed primary you may be able to get a place on appeal if the school turn you down.
Where in Cornwall is hubbys bro? You would feel right at home there. Try Wadebridge primaries. The Comp has big sports fields and Wadebridge has a fab rugby club. The school also is big on rugby, hockey and netball. It near the sea. Big surfing scene.
I'd definitely agree look in Wales not England. The new early years curriculum in Wales (up to end of yr 2 or the year in which they are 7) is very child centred, all about being outdoors as much as possible etc.
Pembrokeshire might fit your bill - I'm not sure if your size limit is for secondary but the secondary in St Davids has around 450 pupils and AFAIK isn't oversubscribed. (You want south Pembrokeshire specifically as most of the primaries in the north of the county are Welsh medium.) Pembs is great for beaches, lifestyle etc.
Kia Ora - Thanks all.
Bro-in-law is in Point, near Devoran & his lovely parents in law, who adore our kids, are in Mylor & there's a circle of the Bro's friends in the Penryn area. Daughter got into surfing at Hot Water Beach in NZ before we left - first time out on a long board she just stood up & rode the board up to the beach so will look into Wadebridge. Both kids were in 'Junior Surf Lifesaving' for 2 years - we are typical kiwi's involved with the ocean.
Will definitely check out all suggestions here & really appreciate the local advice/experience. Thanks again.
If your kids are already in Junior Life Surfing, then seriously consider living in Cornwall where surfing is a way of life. St Agnes, Porthtowan, and all along the coast to St Ives has lots of surfing, Padstow and Bude also good. Newquay is more commercialised so if your from NZ you might not like that. Good schools are always hard to find but just go and see lots including private ones. For local schools, the advantage is that kids can get to surf clubs after school and make friends with other surfing kids. For private schools stay closer to the Devon boarder e.g. Wadebridge unless you don't mind your dc boarding. Otherwise, find a beach to fall in love with and look for somewhere to live near there?
I'd look at South Wales coastline - lots of SLSCs, junior rugby, good schools, reasonably low house prices. Dire weather though!
Thanks for that.
Been watching the weather in the UK & it would seem Wales is under water - well a good section of it.
Thanks for advice - counting down to visit - got the waders packed.
Definitely Cornwall. So laid back and lovely. A family I knew moved from London to Looe in Cornwall and their DC did really well at local schools, and spent all their spare time surfing. It's a lovely, relaxed atmosphere and the weather is pretty good (by Uk standards, which are no standards at all!)
COrnwall. GOrgeous, lots of small lovely primary schools where your kids will be properly nurtured.
Sidmouth. You'll feel at home there.
or West Dorset - any of the feeders into Thomas Hardy School in Dorchester.
Bridport is a nice town with nice schools and less bad traffic than further west
Otherwise I'll second Bournemouth or east to Lymington / New Milton way
but the emptiness of West Dorset / East Devon may be more chilled for you.
Cornwall does NOT rate well academically - and the cheap houses are not on the coast
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