Making sense of primary schools: US to UK Transition

(16 Posts)
SpeechGarden Fri 22-Feb-13 21:33:05

Hi New Friends!

Our family is planning to move from US to UK (likely Liverpool or nearby) this summer. DS will be 7yo this summer and DD turned 8 this past December. I've been trying to research school options for them, but am confused by all the different options and terminology. We will need a local, community, tuition-free school. Am I correct in understanding this is called 'maintained school'? Are all the other options fee-based (academies, voluntary-aided, voluntary, prep, etc.)? Once I think I've got it figured out, I see something that leads to believe that fees might be charged. What tuition might be charged for each school type?

Along the same lines, what year do you think each child might be? The eight-year old (who will nearly be 9) would be in year four? DS (7 this June) was held back one year on our request due to some social immaturity and is currently in kindergarten (common practice in our area for summer birthdays, especially boys). Will we be given the choice to put in him year 2 or 3? What is usually done in this situation? Academically, he would likely be fine in either, as he is well ahead, but he can be a bit silly and might be a better fit with slightly younger children.

Thank you for your warm welcome and thoughtful insight,

Overwhelmed by the Mom to Mum Conversion

You want a 'state school' of some description. There are various different kinds. Look on the education section of the local authority website for the areas you're looking in and you'll get a list of all the state schools in the area.

Some 'academies' will be state schools, some won't be. It's hard to tell simply from the name of a school. But the LEA (local education authority) will have a list of all the state schools in their area.

exexpat Fri 22-Feb-13 21:43:01

All the different terms are a bit confusing, and it has been getting worse recently.

In general, academies*, voluntary-aided and voluntary-controlled schools are also free, ie non-fee-paying state schools , as are 'free schools' and community primary schools. Voluntary-aided and voluntary controlled schools have a religious element, and for voluntary-aided, entry may depend on whether you are a practising member of the relevant faith.

Fee-paying primaries usually describe themselves as independent or as prep schools, and it is very easy to spot references to fees on their websites.

If you know which area you are looking at, check the education section of the local council's website - all schools listed there will normally be free/state schools as the council usually handles overall admissions for all state schools. They don't have any contact with fee-paying schools.

* There are a handful of private schools which have 'Academy' as part of their name, eg Glasgow Academy, but this is the exception rather than the rule, and again can easily be checked by looking them up online.

In state schools, children almost always go into the year group of their chronological age. Exceptions are rare.

If your daughter was born between 1 Sept 2003 and 31 Aug 2004, then she'll go into Y4 if she joins the school before the end of the school year in July.

If your son was born between 1 Sept 2005 and 31 Aug 2006, then he'll go into Y2.

exexpat Fri 22-Feb-13 21:52:01

The cut-off date for birthdays is August 31st, so your older child would currently be in year 3, moving into year 4 in September. If your younger one turns 7 in June this year, then he would currently be in year 2, and would join year 3 in September. No, you would not be given a choice about which class he goes into - British state schools are very inflexible about year groups.

As far as I know, most state schools require you to be resident locally before you can apply for a place. Some schools are oversubscribed and have waiting lists. If you aren't actually moving until the summer, then you may not get places for them at your closest school until the new school year in September, in which case they would be starting in Y5 and Y3. The good news is that once one gets a place, the other will get priority on the waiting list as a sibling.

sittinginthesun Fri 22-Feb-13 21:54:15

Hi OP.

Yes, your eldest will be in year 4, and your youngest will be in year 2. And you are basically looking at a State School of some kind.

Start with the Local Authority website for the area you are considering, and have a look at the schools. It will probably be a case of finding a school with available places.

Why don't you post this again on the Primary Education section here - there are a few admissions experts around on that board, who could give you loads more info? Maybe MNHQ could move the thread?

Good luck!

Sorry, just read your post more carefully.

8th birthday in Dec 2012 would mean she's in Y3 now, she'll be in Y4 from Sept.

7th birthday in June 2013 means he's in Y2 now, going into Y3 from Sept, as exexpat says.

pooka Fri 22-Feb-13 21:57:27

schoolsfinder.direct.gov.uk/search-results/?searchstring=liverpool&x=31&y=12&WidgetId=205&type=Primary%2CSecondary&Specialism=0&distanceValue=5&distanceMeasure=miles

You can fiddle with link to adjust according to location.

As others have said - independent, preparatory, 'public' can all be used to describe fee paying schools. My dcs go to a maintained primary (a community primary) that is in process of converting to an academy. Will still be the same school, apart from the funding to run it will come direct from Central Government rather than via the LEA. Locally, we have foundation primaries (also state and no fees), voluntary aided (usually CofE or RC) and academies, all of which are non fee-paying.

Most schools will have a website.

DS1 was 7 last September. He is in Year 3. Your ds would, if he'll be 7 this coming JUne, also be in Year 3. It is unusual for schools/LEAs to allow children to attend school out of their age cohort. Some primary schools (particularly small/village ones) may have mixed classes, so one class with Reception, one with Yr1/2 mix, one with all Yr 1s, one with year 2/3 mix and so on. Designed to ensure that small schools can operate efficiently in terms of staff ratios (no more than 30 pupils to 1 qualified teacher in years R - 2 by law) but can have advantages if a child would be a better fit in a different year group if you see what I mean.

The cut off is August 31st/1st September. If your dd was 8 in December, she would be in year 4 (my dd was 8 in July and is in year 5). Would be one of the older ones.

sittinginthesun Fri 22-Feb-13 22:02:29

Sorry, too much wine tonight, cant add up! what ThreeBee said. smile

pooka Fri 22-Feb-13 22:05:09

Oops - have messed up the year groups. Will look again!

Right - have looked again. Your ds will be 7 in June 2013 he would be in the same year group as DS1 who was 7 in September 2012 i.e. currently Year 2. Year 3 from September 2012 (can't believe I forgot what year he was in blush)

My head is aching. I know that dd is in Year 5 at present, having been 9 in JUly 2012. Oh God - have just realised that I put that she was 8 in JUly. I give up.

In my defence, have a very trying non-sleeping toddler as well. This is what almost a decade of sleep deprivation has done to me... grin

The other thing to bear in mind is that the education systems are quite different, in style and content. Your children will have a period of adjustment, but they will be assessed and given extra assistance if there are any areas where there is a shortfall in their knowledge, until they have caught up.

Reading comprehension, spelling and multiplication tables are some of the things that all schools concentrate on in Y2-Y4.

amck5700 Fri 22-Feb-13 22:21:40

Of course, if you decide on Scotland instead, its completely different and they are more flexible on which year children go into. Especially children moving to the country who are generally put with a slightly younger class initially to help them settle.

MsDeerheart Sat 23-Feb-13 14:13:42

Agree you need to work out which local authority it will be - and look on their website - this is the one for liverpool-but you might be in a different one - - its is unlikely that you will be able to apply until you have an address in the UK -but you can often find out which schools have places -
liverpool.gov.uk/schools-and-learning/school-admissions/in-year-transfers/
The advatange of your DS going in Y3 is there is more flexiablity in class sizes so easier to get a place -
I agree lots of useful info in Primary schools and there should be some Mumsnet local sites in Liverpool and around

SpeechGarden Sat 23-Feb-13 14:35:05

You all have been most helpful. I have spent the past week trying to figure all this out and you have helped me tremendously in just a few hours. I will move over the primary schools section for further questions, as I undoubtedly have many more!

Looks like I'll fit right in with the wine and tiredness...sounds just like me! wine

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