Relocating from the US need help understanding school years

(36 Posts)
amenahi Fri 10-Jan-14 22:26:53

Hi All,

I am relocating from the US to live in London near King's College Hospital for only one year. We are considering living in the Dulwich Village area. I need help understanding a couple things.

1. What is the name of the grade for children entering school who turn 5 before the school year starts? In the US that is considered kindergarten.

2. Is there a cut-off date that a child must turn 5 by before they are able to start? For example in the US a child must be 5 by September 1st (in most states) before they are able to start kindergarten.

3. If there is a cut-off date are there any exceptions to the rule? Can a child test into the grade?

amenahi Mon 13-Jan-14 02:42:26

Wow pyrrah I didn't realize the schools were not secular...I thought they would be more so than the USA. That's good to know. I can't believe 'reasonable distance' is considered an hour one way! I actually have another dd who would be starting Y3. I better do some homework myself on HE options to be prepared - especially since we were not planning on getting a car.

NyanevesSister - yes your email would be helpful as I would have more questions about the area!

thepobblewhohasnotoes Mon 13-Jan-14 03:09:24

amenahi, in practice, many schools are basically secular. There is a legal requirement, from memory something like the schools "must provide an act of worship that is broadly Christian in nature". However the interpretation of this varies wildly.

If it's important to you to not go to a religious school, then it's worth asking them how the requirement to provide worship is met.

With my two local schools, a teacher at the open day answered that they one has prayers in assembly, they sing well known hymns and they say grace at lunch. At the other one (the one DS goes to), they said that they talk to the DCs about what being good means, and they sometimes ask them to close their eyes and thing about "wonder and awe". They fudge it, in other words, and Christianity doesn't get forced on them, although they did do a nativity.

Many schools (particularly in London IME) are basically secular despite the rules. It's down to the individual school's ethos.

thepobblewhohasnotoes Mon 13-Jan-14 03:18:09

There is a lot of pressure on school places, and unless you have a factor in your favour like your DC has a sibling at the school, places are allocated purely on distance. Ask the local council for the admissions criteria.

They should also be able to provide stats on how many children were let in last year under the different categories, and - importantly - how far the furthest family lived from the school. My council does that anyway. That's a very useful document for you when house hunting.

If you have to go onto a waiting list for the school, AFAIK, places will be allocated according to how close you lice to the school, not who has been waiting the longest. In your shoes, I would choose the school or schools I wanted, and try to move as close as possible. This is the best thing you can do do get a good school for your DD.

Be aware that house prices will be higher near the good schools, as many people will move before reception allocation, to ensure their DCs get into a good school (we did). Even if you don't get in at first, you may stand a good chance of getting a late place in reception year if people have put their DCs down for independent schools or private schools too, as they may have used reception as a backup, so there will be some who don't show at the beginning of term.

When househunting, use www.rightmove.co.uk and on the map accompanying each property, you can click to see primary schools, and then click through to see their OFSTED reports and info about the school, it's a very useful tool.

thepobblewhohasnotoes Mon 13-Jan-14 03:21:07

A fundamental difference between US and UK schools is that over there you have the concept of passing a grade to move to the next one. Over here, the teachers teach mixed-ability groups, everyone moves up together.

thepobblewhohasnotoes Mon 13-Jan-14 03:21:50

*think not thing!!

thepobblewhohasnotoes Mon 13-Jan-14 03:26:26

Just to emphasis how important distance is, if you want to change schools, you could be waiting 6 months for a place for your chosen school, and be effectively top of the list as you are nearest. Another family could then move closer to the school than you, and put their DC's name down for the same year. A place becomes available a week after they've gone onto the waiting list. The other family would get it, not you.

PenguinsDontEatKale Mon 13-Jan-14 08:44:09

If you have a DD starting year 3, this may actually help you. Take a good look at admission criteria, but most schools put siblings basically at the top.

It is often easier to get a place in year 3. The law is very, very strict that each class must have no more than 30 children in for reception, year 1 and year 2, but the rule is relaxed at year 3 so there may be a wee bit more flexibility. Also, in affluent areas of London, quite a few children may move to the private system at year 3 (there is a vile phrase 'state til 8', which basically means go to state schools for the infants and then move for the academic year in which they turn 8), so if you can move close and be there as soon as possible in the summer, you might get more chance of a space coming up.

If you get your older child in and there is a sibling rule, that will bump you nice and high up the waiting list for a place for your younger one.

pyrrah Tue 14-Jan-14 20:59:49

Despite the no secular schools thing, more and more people in the UK are atheist so it's not particularly effective!

The religiosity or otherwise of a school basically comes down to the head-teacher's personal beliefs. In London most community schools are of the 'nod to god' variety, but if lack of religion is important to you then it's worth checking it out (although a change of head can change that).

RE is the study of faiths rather than the study of faith, and things like Diwali, Eid and so on are also celebrated.

You can withdraw your child from RE and the worship bit, but other than JWs, no-one generally does. DH and I are secular humanists and as atheist as you get, but still like Xmas carols, nativity etc and see it as an important part of our cultural history.

In London traffic an hour isn't often that far. DD goes to a primary that is only about 1.5 miles away but by the time we've walked to the bus stop, taken the bus and walked to school it takes best part of 40 minutes.

Other things to check is the situation regarding bulge classes. A friend of mine has applied for a school that has single form entry (30 children) and had a 150m last admitted distance in 2011. In 2012 they ran a bulge class (60 children) and I have a horrible feeling that they may not get a place this year even if they live on the doorstep. Bulge classes = siblings and with the potential siblings of 60 children in 2012, there may well be no places over in 2014.

Multi-year entry and no previous bulge classes are your friends. The local authority will have this information.

http://www.southwark.gov.uk/info/200289/primary_school_admissions

The brochure can be downloaded from here and will have all the info on last years allocations. Schools which have become Academies may not have their 'last distance offered' details - you can try calling them individually to find out (although some of them didn't seem to have a clue when I asked last year!)

pyrrah Tue 14-Jan-14 21:00:16

Sorry - multi-form, not multi-year entry.

3bunnies Wed 15-Jan-14 06:08:43

I wouldn't worry too much about her being bored, ds is a similar age and can already read at the level of a year 1 child and has achieved his goals for numeracy in reception. The school will differentiate the work and is used to accepting children with a range of abilities. You can do extra work at home with her if she wants to. It might be a bit of a culture shock for her so it is probably best if she doesn't need to do too much. Year 3 is when the learning really starts to accelerates and children do find it a bit challenging after the gentler infant school years.

allyfe Wed 15-Jan-14 10:52:42

I agree, her level sounds similar to other children in reception. There will be other children with birthdays close to hers, she may not be the oldest in the class. I know of some reception children who entered with a reading level expected in year 2. As 3bunnies says, they provide differentiated work when needed.

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