scottish education system particularly edinburgh

(31 Posts)
Yorkshirelass444 Fri 09-Aug-13 13:15:55

Hello I'm Jane and I'm unashamedly trying to make my son's school experience as easy as I can! We live in england and he attends a lovely primary which he enjoys. However, his birthday is in august and he is the youngest and smallest in the class by far! He's not short of friends but i feel that they have many advantages over him. For example, he's keen on football but physically he's no match for his peers! He's often been a little behind developmentally: nothing major, just potty training, writing etc- he gets there in the end but i think he sees himself as being not as clever/fast etc as others. He is friendly but naturally quiet. I just feel he has no "buffer" in his current school year- at nursery he played with kids his own age and younger and i would love for him to have that opportunity at school and not just be the young, cute one (no boy wants to be labelled "cute"!) He's about to turn 7.
So, the above was rather a long intro to my actual question! Sorry! I'm wondering where my son would be agewise in the scottish classroom. I understand that the eldest is march and youngest end feb but then i have read that parents with kids born between sept and end feb have option of dropping a year and if this is a common practice then once again, an august born child is the youngest in his class, ha! is this what happens in reality or do very few parents actually hold kids back for a year?
i'm very interested in edinburgh- there are massive draws besides the feb cut-off for school so going to ask another cheeky question- do many families live in tenements nearer the city?
i note that there is a steiner school and strongly considered steiner education as believe the kids might be able to mix more easily with different aged kids but overall not convinced it wouldn't be a big risk in other ways.
Thanks for reading this!

3nationsfamily Fri 09-Aug-13 14:38:26

Hi there from Edinburgh. Both my DC are July birthdays and in the Scottish system they were bang in the middle of their year groups. In reality although the cut off is Feb, there are very few children with Dec/ Jan birthdays who are not kept back for exactly the reasons you have concerns about your son.
Whilst I applaud your wish to do your best by him, are you seriously considering moving house/job etc to relocate to Edinburgh for this reason? Access to state schools in the Scottish system is strictly done by catchment area, although you can make out of catchment placing requests if you want to apply to a different school, but these are considered only if there is space in that school and against a strict set of criteria. There is a significant issue aruond school places in the city at the moment in the better schoools and neighbourhoods due to increased population , and you cannot even apply to any school until you have a permanent address in the city.
See here for full details of the process. School places Edinburgh
The fact that your son is now 7 he would go in to Primary 3, so it will depend on what schools have places available in that year group.
There are lots of families who live in the city centre, but overall Edinburgh is an expensive place to live so do have a quick look at property prices / rents as part of your decision. Edinburgh Property Centre

teaandbourbons Fri 09-Aug-13 14:43:54

My son is an end feb birthday and we have decided to keep him back a year for the reasons you've listed. There were 5 in his nursery class with jan/feb birthdays and 3 are staying back, 2 are going to school this year.

teaandbourbons Fri 09-Aug-13 14:46:22

Just to add, the parents of jan/feb birthdays can make their own decision to keep kids back. Those with oct - dec birthdays had to have a 'reason' and have a meeting with someone from the council to agree it, eg SN.

it tends to be only children with January and February birthdays that defer with the odd December one thrown in (you have to fight a bit more for extra nursery funding if they dont have Jan/Feb birthdays). Even then they dont always defer as dd and ds both have younger Jan/Feb birthday children in their classes. DD and ds are November and October birthdays so are among the youngest in their year groups.

Yorkshirelass444 Fri 09-Aug-13 16:41:52

Thank you all very much- that's given me a lot to chew over! and cheers for all the links.
Edinburgh does have other charms for me besides the relative ages of school kids but i'll hold my hand up that having my son in the middle of a class agewise is a massive incentive! Ironically, his 4 yr old sister's b'day is 30th November so she'd be among the young 'uns but i know this wouldn't phase her!

RVPisnomore Fri 09-Aug-13 16:49:10

My son is 5.5 and will be starting P1 in a couple of weeks. He's a mid February birthday and we had the debate about whether he should go into P1 last August or this year? What tipped it for us was the thought of him always struggling to keep up with others in the class but more the thought that he would be starting University (according to my DH he's going!) at 17 and for me that was too young. I would rather he was that bit older.

Yorkshirelass444 Fri 09-Aug-13 18:03:22

Don't blame you, RVP- exactly what i'd do in same position.

teaandbourbons Fri 09-Aug-13 22:13:29

That's exactly why we have decided to keep DS in nursery for an extra year as well. Also didn't like the thought of him going to high school at such a young age.

Yorkshirelass444 Sat 10-Aug-13 10:45:28

Yes the thought of high school definitely figures! Just as an aside, my son started school ten days after his fourth birthday- he had no clue as to what was happening! I just remember thinking he looked like a toddler in his uniform. So they essentially start six months earlier in england- crazy! I've never felt comfortable with situation and i do believe- in his case- a few months grace would make a big difference. It's not even the academic side of things it's social side, sport, physicality, confidence etc

FanjoForTheMammaries Sat 10-Aug-13 10:48:03

Be aware though that all the "popular" schools in Edinburgh as currently suffering from massive overcrowding. .have heard of 60 pupil composite classes. .

Preferthedogtothekids Sat 10-Aug-13 15:32:21

I have 2 January kids, my son was assessed as being suitable for school at 4.7yrs and we were refused further nursery funding. He didn't cope well with school and we moved areas and put him into a new school in P1 again. He was much more ready, and now at 16 he is doing very well educationally.

I had no intention of sending my daughter at 4.7yrs, but her nursery said she was more than ready and she went into P1 on time. She is now 14 and does wonderfully academically, but it wasn't always easy socially as she was always smaller and bit emotionally younger than most of the others. In hindsight I wish I had kept her back, it would have more good than harm.

If you do move, then your Ds is a great age to go into P1 in Scotland.

OrangeLily Sat 10-Aug-13 15:43:50

I can't comment much on schools but there are plenty of families that live near the centre in tenements or flats within town houses.

Yorkshirelass444 Sun 11-Aug-13 18:41:16

thanks for the input, ladies- all very useful.

jennycoast Mon 12-Aug-13 10:43:19

Fanjo if there is a composite class with 60 children, my understanding is that it would also have to have 3 teachers. Class size limit for a composite is 25. DD3 (late Jan birthday, deferred entry)has spent the last three years in a composite class, and it was absolutely the making of her.

beatofthedrum Mon 12-Aug-13 18:54:38

Deferred entry for my Jan dd as well. She was considered fine to go on but the decision was ours alone (may have changed since your experience Preferdogs, as now is definitely the parents' decision.) My ds is also a Jan birthday and despite being tall and confident, I aim to defer him too.

I don't think it sounds mad to move for the reasons you give. It does make a difference not to always be the youngest.

FanjoForTheMammaries Mon 12-Aug-13 18:59:21

Yes it was a class with several teachers, at South Morningside I think.

badguider Mon 12-Aug-13 19:21:17

South morningside and Sciennes are the only two in the city that are really bursting at the seams. Don't avoid a whole city due to two primary schools, there are loads of other good primaries.

I finished school at 17 and turned 18 around fresher's week at uni but I could have easily taken a gap year instead and been the same age as the English students (went to a scottish uni dominated by english students).

All my family are september/october birthdays and the school year suited us well.

Re. the steiner school... well.. that's your choice really, i live near it and it's a nice area but i wouldn't go for it myself.. it's a big decision to basically pursue a completely different route to mainstream schooling, and probably quite unusual at your ds's age to swap into steiner.

Legally, anyone can defer if their child has not turned 5 by the start of the school year. But you are unlikely to get a funded preschool place, unless their birthday is Jan/Feb or there are specific issues.

So - it is relatively common for Jan/Feb birthdays to defer (maybe around half of them do?) and much, much less common for earlier birthdays to defer.

In practice, as an August birthday your DS wll be around the middle of the intake year.

As to Steiner - well, I'd just say you really, really need to look into that whole can of worms before making a decision, as there are a lot of people with strong opinions about their experiences with that system.

tricot39 Tue 13-Aug-13 14:21:49

We looked into moving to Edinburgh quite seriously last year (but I can't get a job so we can't move sad ) and we were looking at flats and "double uppers" (part of a converted house) on the south side of the city centre. In that area your state secondaries look pretty good with James Gillespies and Boroughmuir schools regularly coming top in the state area stats. I agree with the earlier poster who said be careful about the available places in Primary. The most reliable information is via the school secretary when they schools re-start again this month. Sciennes and South Morningside are full, but they are quite big so can cope with extra numbers easier than the small places like James Gillespie's Primary School which teaches in a single open plan space for all age groups and therefore has little flexibility on accommodating extra classes etc. We found it useful to speak to all the schools and visit all of those in the catchments that we were looking in. Given that the gaelic school is/was leaving Tollcross Primary we reckoned that it might be the place to get a space while all the others were struggling. Good luck - and don't leave the job search until the end of your investigations like I did!

tricot39 Tue 13-Aug-13 14:23:54

Oh - forgot to say that you can download all of the catchment maps from the Edinburgh City website. Although be aware that most of the south side schools were not able to offer all their catchment pupils places last year so (as the defined catchments can be quite enormous compared to English schools) consider making sure that you are searching for houses much closer to the school than the catchment boundary implies.

Soapysuds64 Tue 13-Aug-13 20:58:07

We moved to Scotland when dd1 had completed KS1/SATs/year 2 in the English system. She went into P3, which covered very similar work to Y2 (although as she is born in March, the school was able to offer her the flexibility of moving to P4, but we all agreed that P3 would suit her better socially). The school is fantastic, with around 25 kids in her class, a 10 minute walk away with no problems in getting a space as we are in catchment. She has been able to progress at her own rate, rather than being taught at the rate that will get her to pass SATs - she had got level 3 in all her SATs, but the school was still able to stretch her. Can't rate the Scottish system highly enough, especially compared to the inflexibility of the English system. Although I hear it can be difficult getting school spaces in Edinburgh......

StiffGandT Tue 13-Aug-13 22:29:56

I'm in the process of moving to central Edinburgh and have been told by 5 primary schools that while they can give me a place for my 8 yr old they have no places for my 5 yr old - just going into primary 2 in the Scottish system. My catchment school is Bruntsfield Primary and my youngest is going to be 4th on the waiting list - and that's the list for those in catchment area with a sibling in the school, so the highest priority level. Be aware as well that you can't apply to join school till you actually move and have proof of address. I'm told by the schools I've spoken to that the youngest 3 years are all heavily over subscribed just now. I'm moving in October and have no idea where my youngest child will be going to school - stressful!

tricot39 Wed 14-Aug-13 14:55:30

Stiff - have you looked at Tollcross PS and considered an out of school catchment application? It is not too far from Bruntsfield although the school building and surrounds is not as nice as BPS. But one of the management team had come from Sciennes so we liked their ethos.

StiffGandT Wed 14-Aug-13 21:13:54

Tricot - thanks, I hadn't considered Tollcross but I will now look into it.

Beveridge Wed 14-Aug-13 21:28:03

The oldest children in a school year do better academically than those who are younger, statistically speaking.

Also as a secondary teacher in Scotland, the advantage of deferring is as much at the other end - having an extra years maturity to know you should apply yourself, revise for exams etc. is helpful in the final years.

In Scotland, the exams for Uni admission are Highers, which are one year, very intensive courses that require pupils to be on the ball from the word go and they sit these at the end of S5. So you could be only a few months passed your 16th birthday when you take these as a Jan/Feb birthday!

Yorkshirelass444 Thu 15-Aug-13 13:00:40

thanks beatofthedrum for the vindication! as i say, edinburgh has many attractions for me but, if my son was to be the youngest in the class, i just don't know that i'd do it...when it matters, it really matters.
however, like you, preferthedog, i'll have to accept that child no. 2 will number among the youngest- just over 4yrs 8months..ah well!
re steiner- abadguider and amuminscotland, i agree it's a huge decision to remove one's child from "normal" education- i've looked into it fairly thoroughly and come to conclusion that schools can vary wildly because they're so small and dependent on handful of teachers. i also think state steiners will differ because they'll have to adhere to certain standards and they'll be larger- but obv edinburgh's is private. if i'm honest, i think i've dismissed steiner but i'm always curious as to what others make of it!
many thanks tricot- i really hope you get up there- you've done so much groundwork (for the likes of me to crib!) we are at the wish stage of moving so no jobs, nothing in place! but the more i hear of edinburgh, the more i want to check it out!! it seems to be universally liked which doesn't happen often.- you mention the south side- does that include newington- i like the sound of that place- i like anywhere that's described as quirky or bohemian (at the risk of sounding horribly pretentious!!)
so glad to hear of your good experience- soapysuds, it all bodes well.
stiff g and t- i hope you find a nearby school for youngest- i've heard tollcross mentioned positively in different thread. i've heard primaries described as feeder schools but presume that just because your child goes to a certain primary, it doesn't mean they are automatically "fed" into secondary- i presume it still depends on where you live. Does anyone know? and then i'll stop asking questions!!

tricot39 Thu 15-Aug-13 14:12:24

You need to look at the catchment maps - each secondary has an allocated area which includes those covered by certain primaries. So yes there is a feeder system, but yes it is based on where you live.
See here

I had quite fancied Newington myself but once we visited, found that the properties that we could maybe afford were often quite far from a local shop and that there was not too much going on there. There are also some very wealth pockets of houses around Newington and The Grange which price people like us out of those areas!

In the end we were more drawn to Marchmont, Bruntsfield & Morningside which were a little bit more lively, albeit possibly a bit more studenty in the tenements. So if you can afford a main door flat or a double upper it would be a bit nicer. We liked pretty much all of the primary schools that we saw, although East Preston Street much less so because of its small playground and very busy road (pollution etc) right next to it. In South Morningside there are smaller houses, albeit still pricey in and around "The Braids" which might be worth looking at.

Yorkshirelass444 Thu 15-Aug-13 17:16:55

Sorry Beveridge i didn't see your reply earlier on- didn't realise there's a page two! really interesting to see that relative age of kids can make a difference all the way through school and, when i think of my teenage self, 16 seems a world away from 15!
tricot i would def prefer somewhere lively even if it means some students around! being close to shops/cafes high priority! so, once again thanks for insight into areas and schools.

tricot39 Thu 15-Aug-13 21:56:32

We have friends in Stockbridge with a lovely flat and a great primary. There is loads going on down there and a great sense of family community.... unfortunately the secondary option is not so good and it put me off, but like our friends you might think the secondary option is OK

Yorkshirelass444 Fri 16-Aug-13 20:55:41

thanks tricot, stockbridge is on my radar- tho my champagne tastes bear no relation to our household income! I was looking at the catchment area of state secondaries today and, given the lack in that particular area, i concluded that many folk in those parts are using private schools. so it's intersting that there are those in stockbridge using their nearest state school and i will def keep this in mind.

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