Education VS Quality of life

(74 Posts)

I am posting this in education as I want to address the educational aspect of our issues.

Some background:

Ds1: He is 11. Currently thriving in Y7 in an independent school. He is academically minded and doing well. His favorite and best subjects are maths, IT and science, especially physics and chemistry.
He did Reception and Y1 in London, then moved to Norway after Y1, where he started school from fresh. They start aged 6 in Norway, the educational system is much slower on ks1 and ks2 level than in Britain.
We returned to Britain for him to rejoin his class in Y5, after 3 years away. He had a massive gap in his learning to close, and did so easily by help of a tutor, and achieved L6 in maths.

Ds2: He is 8. Currently doing well in Y4. Went straight from Norwegian nursery to Y2 in London. Spent Y2 learning to read and write, and were just above national average at the end of Y3. His favourite subjects are also maths and science, biology in particular. He is very practical, and sporty.

We are currently pondering whether to return to Norway.

This would mean a choice of:

A. Bog standard school for both of them. Most likely put a year up due to higher abilities. No fees to pay. Free UNI, ranked 306 in the world, after Oxford and UCL.

B. International School with an IB programme. Free Uni.

Ds1 is happy at his current school. Ds2 is the type of child who could be happy anywhere.

How disadvantaged will they be if we do this move?

We are not really happy in London. Life in Norway is much more outdoors, with a much better work life balance. Our financial situation would be much better.

But right now, I just want to try understand the educational implications. Do we stay in Britain in the understanding that we are purely here for a good education for our children, or go to Norway where they will have a different education but most likely a better quality of life.

mummytime Sun 12-Jan-14 20:16:24

I remember your posts on how unhappy DS1 was, I would be very reluctant to move him.
Also from what I've seen University in Norway doesn't charge tuition fees for international students.

Bonsoir Sun 12-Jan-14 20:33:41

I think your main concern ought to be whether, as a family, you would prefer the lifestyle in Norway to the lifestyle in London. Your DS1 is far from too old to move and it sounds as if the international school option in Norway would be fine.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 20:36:10

I've taken up enough space here already - but....

All your reasons for wanting to move are about you and your DH. Which is fine but your DSs are not luggage to be picked up and carried hither and thither for your convenience.

And it's all very well saying you will talk to them - they almost certainly won't be able to tell you how they really feel about stuff until they're about 30. (Trust me on this.)

It is perfectly possible that you could move DS1 again and have everything work out well - but honestly, honestly he will be losing trust in you with every move. And if it doesn't work out for him in Norway (or if he's terribly homesick for life in England) it will be too late to bring him back.

Bonsoir Sun 12-Jan-14 20:37:54

"All your reasons for wanting to move are about you and your DH. Which is fine but your DSs are not luggage to be picked up and carried hither and thither for your convenience."

It isn't unreasonable for parents to decide to return to live in their country of origin, you know!

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 20:41:20

Bonsoir I wouldn't say he was too old to move if this was the first move and it was all a big adventure. But the poor child has already had two bad experiences of school. It seems perverse to remove him from a school where he is finally happy.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 20:43:01

I know...

And I'm speaking from experience of exactly that.sad

RunnerHasbeen Sun 12-Jan-14 20:43:39

There are places in the UK where you could live a different sort of life than you do in London, which would be less disruptive school wise and for your UK business. Have you looked at different parts of the country, where life is more outdoorsy?

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 20:44:26

(Sorry "I know" in response to "It isn't unreasonable....")

Bonsoir Sun 12-Jan-14 20:56:17

I don't think parents should make choices about which country to live on based primarily on whether their DC are happy at school. That is a huge burden of responsibility to put on DC. Parents obviously need to make sure that their DC attend reasonable schools but their whole life plan shouldn't revolve around that.

VworpVworp Sun 12-Jan-14 21:04:33

I remember how unhappy you were last time in Norway! thanks

What about somewhere that is more outdoorsy than UK, but good education system?

Maybe Germany? Technical-orientated, mountains/skiiing/climbing etc.

bonsoir our whole life plan is based around our children's education! <wibble>
We think it will be worth it.

Bonsoir Sun 12-Jan-14 21:14:33

"Our whole life plan is based around our children's education! <wibble>
We think it will be worth it."

Crikey. What self-sacrifice!

BoffinMum Sun 12-Jan-14 21:22:09

Costs of attending any university within the EU or EEA are exactly the same for all EU/EEA citizens, i.e. you get charged the same as local students. So it would not matter whether you lived in the UK for 3 years or Norway for 3 years.

BoffinMum Sun 12-Jan-14 21:24:16

Bavaria in South Germany might be a good place if you don't want to live in Norway but you think you want good education and outdoor activities.

Bonsoir Sun 12-Jan-14 21:27:20

I'm not sure why posters think it is a good idea for this family to move to another third country than the UK.

I can quite understand why the OP might want to return to her country of origin, however, and it seems like a reasonable proposition.

summerends Sun 12-Jan-14 21:34:21

Quintessential I get the sense that you and your DH are n't the settling kind and this move feels right to you, maybe because your DH wants different challenges. However, you may want to move again in under 5 years. If your DS1 did not want to stay in the UK enough to decide to board then probably the IB school in Norway would be better for him to cover his options later. If you are going to move, do it quickly before it gets harder for him to leave his friends.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 21:41:34

Thanks for the correction Boffinblush

When will I learn not to proffer advice on things about which I long ago forgot anything I ought to know?

VworpVworp Sun 12-Jan-14 21:48:55

Bonsoir- because QS is patently not happy here in London, nor was she happy in Norway. Seems logical to suggest elsewhere.

We don't see it as self-sacrifice. You seem to put enough effort into your family's own education too...

Verycold Sun 12-Jan-14 22:17:47

I also remember your many posts on how unhappy you were in Norway. I am worried that what you are looking for can't be found by moving.

We were happy in London until we uprooted everything to care for my parents. We were hoping going back to London would put us back on track. The last 6 years since we moved from London have been absolutely shit, and coming back here does not seem to have solved anything. When ds1 was back in his london primary, I thought he was happy. After starting secondary he told me things were worse than in Norway for him, he just did not want to tell me.

I worry that he is still not telling me how he really feels, as he wants us to be happy.

I honestly dont know what to do for best. Things are just not working out for us.

I thought I could be nearer a conclusion if I separated out all the issues and thought through them one after one, pros and cons of each aspect. Starting with the children's education.

I dont think moving to a third country where none of us speak the language is going to help.

Shootingatpigeons Mon 13-Jan-14 00:08:10

QS I think part of the problem is that once you have lived in more than one country it is always hard to feel truly at home anywhere, that is certainly how we feel. Were circumstances different we would leap at the chance of another adventure overseas. To be honest the UK feels like quite a miserable place these days, a pervasive sense of entitlement and associated bitterness. From what you write whether you make this move is a no brainer, it clearly as you present it offers the most benefit to your family as a whole, and if you are going to move you need to do it now.

The problem is that once your DCs are truly teenage a move becomes a very difficult proposition psychologically. It is not just that the educational issues, different curriculum, exam systems etc. It is also that it becomes intensely important to them to fit in with their peer group as they develop into adults, and having to adjust to a different set of peer group norms and adjust to all the subtleties that govern social interaction etc, can be very traumatic for them. Even at 11 you really need to talk this through with them, make sure they feel some ownership of the decision.

In an International School your DSs will be with other children who have shared their experience of living in other cultures and making International moves. That for me would make that decision. We know lots of expats and adjusting to the constant turnover in International Schools can be painful for the DCs there but they also develop the skills to welcome and make new friends and there are other benefits as well, it widens horizons and their view of the world. The International Schools my DD's peers attended are probably equivalent to an outstanding state school here but the universities they have ended up at are stunning. A mixed ability class and they are at Oxbridge, UCL, Warwick, MIT, The Madeleine Albright International Relations programme at Georgetown, Vets, medics, they really have achieved amazing things.

One thing I would say though is that mixed race friends do feel it is absolutely vital to have a national identity, and not feel you don't belong anywhere. You seem to be doing that by emphasising their Norwegian heritage, which makes the move even more sensible.

Good luck with your decision.

summerends Mon 13-Jan-14 04:29:38

Quintessential your DS1 has just started a new school so he may not know himself whether he is 'happy'. I suppose one step to help you make your minds up, at least for their happiness in education, would be an extended try out at the Norwegian schools (IB school does seem preferable) if you could arrange that without disrupting DS1's schooling here too much.

vikinglights Mon 13-Jan-14 04:52:27

My experience is that school in norway is less academically challenging than school in the uk (mind you my oldest is 8). However the university i work in seems to be at least as academically rigorous as those i have experience of in the uk (red brick/russell group types).

cory Mon 13-Jan-14 09:24:20

I remember your threads from when you were living in Norway, Quint. You seemed quite unhappy at the time and a lot of your unhappiness was tied up with your ds' difficulties coping with Norwegian society. Are you sure it's not getting a bit rose-tinted in retrospect? Are you sure he would find it easier this time round?

Not much experience from Norway, but my experience from other Scandinavian countries is that the teen years, not just in school but out of school too, are much less structured, much less supervised- don't you think your ds might struggle with this? I remember that the sheer lack of supervision of his Norwegian peers was a problem last time as they seemed to get a lot of opportunities for bullying.

This to me seems to put the finger on the real problem: "The last 6 years since we moved from London have been absolutely shit, and coming back here does not seem to have solved anything." Do you think this could be a problem that needs looking at in some other way than just moving away?

But if you are planning a move, is there any reason you can't have an outdoors lifestyle in the UK? Do you have to live in London? Plenty of outdoors in other parts of the country.

ragtimer Mon 13-Jan-14 18:45:50

QS,
we are in a similar position. DH and I have lived in three different countries. We finally moved to his country the UK for DS education. Our quality of life would be better in my country and we would also be better off money wise. But DS would not be able to attend a school like the one he is in right now. He is getting a truly rich, intellectual, challenging and round education, classics, drama, music, debating... I truly believe there are not many educational systems like the UK. We struggle financially and some people think we are crazy to stay here. But I ain't moving!

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