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.

LibraryBook Thu 23-Jan-14 17:41:54

In the years we've lived here, we've (all of us, adults and children) made lots of friends, become part of a community, joined things, established family routines etc. Can't you inject some excitement into your life without roughing your life over entirely?

Growing up in London is an utter privilege: it's heaven for teenagers.

LibraryBook Thu 23-Jan-14 17:23:35

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

Leafmould - You are right about that! grin and brew

Leafmould Mon 20-Jan-14 00:13:22

P.s sorry about the hijack, quintessential.... I get the feeling from your posts that you are damned if you do and damned if you don't.... So I would follow your heart.

Leafmould Mon 20-Jan-14 00:12:02

Shooting pigeons: 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

This is really interesting,many is something that has recently occurred to me. Would you mind telling us more about your experiences? thanks

After all the drama the other day, ds1 called to say that he was going home with his friend after school yesterday. Happy as larry. He is a bit of a dramallama at times. It is true that he is very sensitive.

We have no family support here. Dhs has an aunt here, but we cant rely on her for any support. We also have dhs cousin, and younger brother with his dp and dd. But we are not close and there is no "support" in either of them.

I have family in Norway, and a large network of friends. Not just my friends, dhs friends too, as well as couples with children that we spend time with on outdoors activities, or dinners. I have aunts, an uncle, and cousins, and my dad.

Job prospects are worse there. There are fewer jobs that match dhs skill-sets (he is in IT), much fewer than London for sure. His difficulty will be the language. His Norwegian is good, but it is not fluent, and not business like.

I am currently doing an MBA, but will do any part time job until I have finished, or any full time job in my area that I find.

Loopytiles Sat 18-Jan-14 06:55:23

Hi quint. So you don't have family support in either place? Or firm job options? So it's really about where would be best for you all to be.

If your H sells the business, what kind of thing does he want to do, and are there more opportunities in London or Norway? If he doesn't sell the business, just employs someone, that will still be a challenge because he'll still be responsible for it overall, and it'd be more difficult to oversee from Norway.

Likewise, what do you want to do work-wise?

summerends Fri 17-Jan-14 22:00:01

Quintessential there are some DC who seem to 'feel' the knocks of life more than others, possibly because they are more emotionally sensitive or possibly they are good communicators, offloading those feelings to their nearest and dearest, their parents. I am wondering whether your DS1 is like that at and maybe when he says he has no friends, he has not got to the stage of friendships when he can truly relax and not worry about how he is perceived. It is quite tiring being 'on alert' all the time. I would just worry that he might also find it tough restarting the whole process again.

TheLeftovermonster Fri 17-Jan-14 18:57:55

Not sure if normal, probably depends on the child. Is he prone to exagerating and dramatising things a bit?
Or does he seem genuinely unhappy?

Hope he feels better soon! Y7 is difficult, lots of new things and a lot more demanding than primary.

Well, we did have a MAJOR meltdown here last night, where he was in tears saying that the school was too hard on him, only 3 teachers seem intent to help him actually learn, and that he was knackered with too much homework, and find it really hard to remember all his books and papers, he is not making friends (he has made some!) and can we please take him out of this school. hmm

I think he is just tired and overwhelmed, and to be honest, 3 teachers keen to help him learn is quite good. He was most impressed with his games teacher. He is not into rugby or football, but his teacher noticed him having problems passing during a game of rugby, so took him out and focused on passing just with him. He was very happy that he did this. His Ethics teacher was just telling him off for not debating well enough, rather than telling him how to debate better. However, he did tell me the other day that the same teacher had on the next lesson praised him for his good effort.

This is the first meltdown we have had since starting secondary, maybe it is normal?

TheLeftovermonster Fri 17-Jan-14 15:05:31

Lol, Cory - if he goes off sport at puberty, he'll just have to spend countless hours on the computer, like most other teens! (I've got one that does, and he hasn't even gone off sport yet!)

I'm not sure an international school in a university town can be considered an educational sacrifice. From what I've read about it here, it sounds pretty good.

cory Thu 16-Jan-14 11:17:11

Hard to gauge drinking, I suppose, probably a similar problem in both countries, just as you say at different ages.

What I did find, though, as a teen myself was that if you were not into sports and not into drinking there wasn't much of an alternative for the teen years. If you were an academic nerd or uncomfortable about your body you could end up very lonely.

I did notice that all the activities you mention are physical ones- what happens if he goes off sport in puberty? Not all that rare ime.

But I wouldn't let any of these considerations overshadow the main one: where do you want to settle down? He will soon be old enough to make his own choices- your choices, in a sense, are more long-lasting. I think they should take priority as long as they do not involve anything obviously unsettling, like moving half-way through his GCSE's, or moving every few years. Would agree with other posters that teens need more stability, so if you are going to move- do it now and then stay put.

Cory there is lots to do in my home town, so I am not so concerned about that. Most of his friends and old classmates play football, taekwon do, basket ball, skiing, ice hockey, snowboarding, cross country skiing. They are very active. Yes it is true that a lot of teens drink, but they do so here too, but I'd say drugs (cocaine, legal highs) are the biggest danger locally.

My personal impression is that teens (not all) up there drink a fair bit if there is a party, so not every weekend. By the time they get to Uni, they are mostly done with this. There is a remarkable change between completing A levels in spring, and joining Uni in the automn. They seem to turn into intellectuals putting the world to right over herbal tea or beer, in all the local jaunts.

I am more scared of the British drinking culture where it is acceptable to drink almost daily, than indulging at the weekend.

When I came to UCL back in the dark ages I was shocked at how much my fellow students were drinking. I thought they behaved like young Norwegian teenagers, not students. 90% of them were out getting drunk every night. Maybe because this was their first taste of freedom?

But I should not generalize, and things might have changed in the last 20 odd years. I can only rationalize through my own experience and impressions, and would love to hear I am wrong...

cory Thu 16-Jan-14 09:15:01

A couple more random thoughts:

he is approaching an age where British children also get considerably more freedom so the differences may be smaller than you imagine

(we are in a medium sized town on the South coast and here it is perfectly normal for 12yo's to take the bus into town or to roam the neighbourhood- also plenty of outdoors activities available)

supposing his interest in the outdoors wanes with the onset of puberty- would there be enough to do in his Norwegian setting?

(my own memories of Scandinavian teens playing in here- a lot of the time it seemed to be a choice between drunken parties and loneliness; one thing I like about our current location is that theatre and volunteering with charities and sharing books with your friends are seen as normal and cool things for teens to do)

but most importantly- where do you want to grow old?

I think you will have to accept that if you choose to move back then you will have to stick with that move unless there is a significant problem. DS1 is getting close to the age when moving will disrupt his education.

Consequently, I think you really need to be very honest with yourself if this a "grass is greener" situation. Are you unhappy because of something about London and your life here or are you unhappy and hoping a move will take away that unhappiness.

The international school would seem like the better option but I think you should speak to DS1 about boarding if you do decide to move.

Is there any particular reason why you have to be in London?

Re turnaround, I think it is pretty stable. My son will actually know some of the children, a French family who live next to my cousin, we went skiing with them a few years ago, and the french family was in another flat, so the kids spent time together. Lovely girls. There are some local children there too, the parents have moved them to the Intl school because of the better education, it is more tailored to the individual children's needs and progress, and they have excellent SEN provisions. I have taught some of the staff Norwegian! grin
I do know they have a problem finding high caliber teachers who wants to live in the arctic. The maths teacher is Egyptian, science teacher from Peru, I love the idea of such a great mix! I can take them if we go in February, otherwise when we go for Easter in April.

intheround Tue 14-Jan-14 21:19:31

Is there a high turnover of children in international schools in Norway? This was one of the reasons a friend of mine opted for a local school when they moved abroad. They knew they were there for the long haul, but didn't want their children to make friends only to keep losing them again

summerends Tue 14-Jan-14 21:08:51

I agree that it is better not to postpone your decision too long as by mid year 8 your DS1 will find it much harder to move if he has made friends. Could you not arrange the trial visit to the IB school soon, see what he thinks of the teaching style and lesson content compared to his present school and then make your minds up taking that into consideration by the the summer term.

TheLeftovermonster Tue 14-Jan-14 14:57:05

I'd move and go for the international school. Your ds1 is not properly settled yet, and he'll be moving to a familiar place where he has friends already. International schools are generally welcoming and used to newcomers. He'll be fine!

Shootingatpigeons Tue 14-Jan-14 13:25:55

That was something that was a real culture shock for DDs returning to The UK. Where we were was ultra safe and the members of that culture really look after the children so you can allow them a lot of freedom and independence. When we moved back we had to put all sorts of boundaries in place, and their social life had to be organised between parents again which they found difficult. My younger DD was bullied here as well because they said she was "wild" and "weird" whereas mostly it was just that her behaviour was the norm for children there, more outgoing, more adventurous.

As I mentioned before this intolerance of difference is going to get worse as DD1 becomes adolescent. It builds up to a peak in Year 9, after which they begin to assert their individuality and value difference and like people for what they are. It's the heart of the adolescent storm and I strongly advise you have your DS firmly settled and anchored somewhere before it strikes.

AliceinWinterWonderland Tue 14-Jan-14 11:08:40

If he's allowed more freedom there, at his age, he may appreciate it more now.

True. He also now knows the culture, and how kids/teens behave towards each other. They are very street smart an independent. He had learnt that by the time we moved.

He would walk to and from school. I could send him errands to the shop (15 minutes walk away). He could go alone on the bus. He would go jogging on his own. He would take his skiis and go skiing on his own, aged 8/9. This summer he and his friend went to the cinema alone and "hung out" in the city center before being picked up.

Thinking about it, this is something ds2 has not learnt, as kids are this independent from the age of 7/8.

Also, ds1 has now matured to the point where they make friends based on similar interests and hobbies, rather than just being in the same class or living on the same street.

AliceinWinterWonderland Tue 14-Jan-14 10:48:49

From the standpoint of DS1, you say part of his difficulty moving to Norway when he was younger was the language barrier. That's not a problem now, as you said he is bilingual now, correct? That's a HUGE difference IMO. He will not feel as much like an outsider - he's lived there before, so the culture shock/change won't be nearly as drastic - he'll have friends and family to socialise with, and a different school to the one he had difficulty with. If he's 11yo, is there any reason he cannot give it a couple years go there, and then revisit the idea of possibly boarding school in the UK after that if he really doesn't want to stay there? He may find the experience completely different this time around.

I am thinking more than I am responding. I am taking everything on board.

I also remember my unhappiness in Norway. I am at the moment perhaps stuck in my unhappiness here, and maybe the key is to try change everything else that is bothering us, except the location, to try make our lives happier?

I honestly dont know what is best. Maybe another year of trying to change other things is the best. That will give ds2 a chance of completing Y5, and will have Y6 in primary in Norway and can move up with friends to secondary, if we decide to go. This will give ds1 more stability, too.

I just dont know.

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!

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now