Honest opinions on Scottish school system please...

(29 Posts)
lifeisnotadressrehersal Sat 01-Oct-16 09:29:04

We are considering returning to Scotland after a stint abroad. We have primary school children (8 & 10) who are really happy in school here. I don't really see us being here long term though (as in until kids finish school) and would love to move home. Our move window in getting smaller and I think next year will realistically be our last chance.
When I mentioned moving back to family and friends it all sounds really negative. Everyone seems to assume that life in general must be better where we are.
Bad behaviour, bullying, disorganised teaching methods, CofE being changed and no proper guidelines( this is from teacher friends). Not one person has said they thought it would be a good idea, and since I trust their opinions it make me second guess the move.
Are they ALL being overly negative?
Any opinions would be really helpful, but hopefully some really positive feedback would be lovely.

YouMakeMyDreams Sat 01-Oct-16 09:42:11

I think from a teachers perspective you will often get a lot of negatives. The CforE has not been popular and the rolling it out has been a bit of a shambles.
From a parents perspective we've lived in two local authorities and the dc have attended two fabulous primary schools where they have had great teachers who have successfully managed to teach them all as individuals with different strengths. There have obviously been some teachers I've liked more than others but overall the dc have liked them all in one way or another.
Dd is now at secondary. It's OK not as great as I'd like and we are reasonably rural so don't have much choice. A lot of what I don't like is down to the management rather than the teaching but that is changing. She again has some great teachers who are getting the best out of her.

howabout Sat 01-Oct-16 11:12:02

Depends where you are already? When I moved back to the UK the choice of Scotland over England was in part due to the education system. I cannot get my head around limiting choice to 3 A level subjects when mine at the average comp across the road will routinely end up with 5 nat 6 (highers in old money) after 5th year followed by a choice to do more nat 6s or nat 7s in 6th year. I would also struggle with the degree of competition and "selection" in the English system.

I have a 14 and 15 year old. Their teachers are sounding positive about the adjustments to nat 4 upwards being proposed by Swinney et al. As a parent I have never regretted my choice.

mintthins Sat 01-Oct-16 11:15:09

We've moved away again, but in our while in Scotland, my big concern was that some councils restrict the number of Nat 4/5 to six (and were threatening five) and others 7 or even 8. Restricting choice from S3 just seemed so wrong. That said, they still offer 5 Highers.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Sat 01-Oct-16 11:22:23

I look at the English education threads in shock

IMO education in Scotland is way better. DD goes to her catchment school as do the vast majority of kids, none of this rank your six preferred school in order and wait for months for your child to be given a place an hour away. All the schools are fine as far as I can tell and the CfE, while there have been teething issues the idea seems pretty sound.

Moaning I have seen about Scottish schools tend to be that the education is too Scottish - they learn about Scottish history shock and have Scottish set texts shock shock

Remember people are.more likely to moan than praise, and a quick advanced search of a person may give you a clue to their agenda.

Roseformeplease Sat 01-Oct-16 11:22:57

It also, as ever, depends on the school.

Alwaysinahurrynow Sat 01-Oct-16 13:01:21

Having grown up with the English system, I struggle to get my head round the Scottish one (my kids will not be 17 when they go to uni even if they do adv highers). I struggle with the whole tutition fees gap as it means that many children will not have the widest choice at 18 and creates a more insular society (appreciate this is better for parents though). I also dislike the fact that you cannot tell if schools are actually any good academically as the higher results are really the only indicator on the academic side. I know a number of people who have taken their kids out of state due to CfE.

howabout Sat 01-Oct-16 13:26:26

Always the performance data for Scottish secondary schools on parentzone is far more comprehensive than anything I have seen for English schools.

Alwaysinahurrynow Sat 01-Oct-16 13:43:25

I was more meaning at the primary level as secondary you always get the main results out. However I wasn't aware of that website, so will check it out, thanks.

DanyellasDonkey Sat 01-Oct-16 17:38:51

It depends on the council and the school. Our school does nothing but nurture badly behaved pupils and bang on about being a Rights Respecting School but kids do and say what they want to staff and nothing is done about it. Staff morale is zero as their rights are certainly not being respected.

Superficially though, it has a good reputation in the community from those who don't really know what goes on behind the scenes,

One good thing about Scotland is that most kids go to their catchment school and there isn't the obsessing with school places that there is in England.

dotdotdotmustdash Sun 02-Oct-16 07:23:07

My DC have both left school in the last year (Ds last year and Dd this year). Both attended a large comprehensive school in a Fife town with a very large and varied catchment. I also work in another local school.

Ds left school with 4 highers and 9 Standard grades, he underperformed as he has ASD and he wasn't terribly well supported but he did well enough to go on to do what he wants. Dd left with 9 Nat 5s, 5 Highers (all A) and 3 Advanced Highers (ABB) and also has what she needs for her chosen courses. Schooling wasn't always easy and discipline has certainly deteriorated over the past few years, but there are still good and committed teachers who will try to get the best from motivated pupils. Again, as other posters said, it's very dependent where you are and in your position, I would be checking out the schools very closely.

lifeisnotadressrehersal Sun 02-Oct-16 07:44:48

Thanks for the input everyone. All the negative feedback from friends has made me second guess the move back. The fact that it is an optional move makes it all the more confusing.
I looked at the parentzone website but as I don't have a school to search.....so I went into random school reports. They all seem to be doing ok, on paper
It is such a huge decision to make for the childrens future I am starting to ever so slightly freak out I think confused

prettybird Sun 02-Oct-16 09:24:56

My ds is in S5 and my experience (of a whole one child wink) to date has been positive - both of CfE and of the primary and secondary school he's been at.

He's been stretched and stretches himself.

His secondary school - within Glasgow, highly mixed demographic (from millionaire's kids to kids from highly deprived areas who literally don't know where their next meal is coming from --never mind buying a scientific calculator--), multiple languages (54! shock) - is proud of its diversity and gets excellent results with a very high proportion going on to Uni/FE.

It does allow 8 Nat 5s (and ds got excellent results) and again, its results for those getting 5 Highers in a single sitting are good. It also offers lots of Advanced Highers (easier when it's a bigger school).

But as others have said, it really does come down to the school. In some cases there is prejudice and preconception - people moving out of Glasgow into East Ren because the results are "better" without checking out the local schools and seeing what they do in terms of the value add for individual children.

I went to a "good" school in a leafy suburb to the North of Glasgow (equivalent to the East Ren schools) and I would argue that ds' school is a better school as it is more inclusive (my school just cared about the academic kids - ds' school cares passionately not just about the academic kids but about the middle and low achieving cohorts and also encourages wider interests - ds is very sporty as well as being clever)

Ds' school, which has a good reputation, to date has been able to accept all placing requests - although I think it is getting near capacity.

Re the number of Nat 5s, while ds' school allows 8 (as Glasgow left the decision to individual schools), I have heard a depute from a different authority which restricted the number (to 6?) justifying it in terms of "Pathways" and ensuring that all pupils were going to get the results that they needed for the career path they wanted and that there were lots of enrichment options around the smaller number of Nat 5s.

In any event, all schools are "judged" on the proportion of pupils that get 5 Highers, so that remains important.

Via ds' rugby club (not one linked to any private school smile) I get to talk to lots of parents (of girls and boys as there is a strong and growing girls' team) both at ds' school and at other schools in the area and they are all happy with what their school is doing for their kid. There is a range of academic abilities - from those who're expected to get/have got straight As to those who are not so academic but are still being encouraged to do well.

Good luck with your decision.

MrsAmaretto Sun 02-Oct-16 20:24:41

Well I've put off moving closer to family in England as I like the Scottish system.

Our local school is like the others in the area - child focused, easy to get a place at, mixed incomes, diverse backgrounds.

CfE seems popular with my teacher friends at Primary level, but they seem to be decent teachers who taught crosscutricular under 5-14, and used the local context or what kids knew to introduce new learning.

From high school teaching friends it is not prescriptive enough and I'm worried about the varying number of National 5s dependent on school or county. Hopefully it'll be clearer by the time my kids are older

ttlshiwwya Mon 03-Oct-16 11:58:15

Generally happy with my 3 kids Scottish state education - both primary and secondary

Primary especially - very safe, nurturing, good learning environment. Teachers generally enthusiastic and caring. No issues with bad or disruptive behaviour or bullying. Anything that happened was low-level and was dealt with promptly. Strong management team at the school. However should say catchment area for my kids primary school is relatively affluent.

I was worried about secondary education - living in an area with schools way down the league tables however my concerns have been unfounded so far (my youngest two are in S5 and S3 and my eldest at university). I was initially concerned that my kids would only sit National 5s in 6 subjects maximum in practise it's not been an issue - it's not as if they've only studied 6 subjects. They studied 11 subjects up to the end of S3 and just dropped to 6 subjects for S4 exams. I've friends in London whose kids sit 12 GCSEs in Y11 and they seemed to be so much pressured. As prettybird says it's number of Highers that count for university anyway and even my kids poorly performing school encourages pupils to sit 5 Highers in S5 if they are able. I think numbers of national 5s only matter if you aren't going on to do Highers. Plus I think colleges/universities take the maximum number of national 5s available into account (employers maybe less aware?).

Okay secondary school is tougher but again generally my kids have had no problems. Disruptive behaviour/bullying etc. is dealt. Definitely not endulged at my kids school. There is a fair bit of drugs/alcohol but that's probably true of most schools in the UK.

InformalRoman Mon 03-Oct-16 15:24:09

I think a huge advantage of the Scottish system is being able to apply to Scottish universities when you already have your exam results.

lifeisnotadressrehersal Mon 03-Oct-16 17:43:50

I really appreciate all the feedback. It seems really positive. I think it's a worry moving children s schools, especially when they are happy where they are. I'm terrified of making the wrong decision. I'd never forgive myself if they got into a school they didn't like sad
The positive stories are a well needed shove in the right direction for me. I'm kind of dragging my feet on the whole moving issue. Due to the negativity from well-meaning but very unhelpful friends and family confused
Certain people I have told about us returning seem to think that everything from education, public transport, traffic to health care and the weather must be better here, why on earth would we return????

prettybird Mon 03-Oct-16 17:49:06

Where would you be thinking of moving to?

Given that the actual school is an important part of the decision, we can maybe advise you and/or provide you with some personal experience of schools in the area.

lifeisnotadressrehersal Mon 03-Oct-16 18:25:37

I am thinking East Coast. Fife, Angus, Dundee. Haven't narrowed it down any more than that yet I'm afraid. I bloody well hate that we can move when we want to where we want. I know that's a really stupid thing to say but I just want someone to tell me when and where so I can get on with it blush confused

museumum Mon 03-Oct-16 18:31:47

You don't say where you are now OP?
I'm sure there are places in the world with better education and public transport. Maybe better healthcare (but I guess you're paying for it?).
In the U.K. I would choose Scotland for education, healthcare and quality of life.... but you know we're always being told Scandinavia is utopia 😜

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 03-Oct-16 18:44:02

City or countryside? Coastal?

lifeisnotadressrehersal Mon 03-Oct-16 19:15:22

This is a great way of helping me narrow things down when I think about it, as I'm sure there are lots of you living on the East Coast.....
I'm not that set on anything in particular. Beach walks, country walks, village rather than large town. High street. Maybe the outskirts of a larger town. Accessible to transport links.
Obviously the main thing would be schools though, so any recommendations would be a great help.

ItsAllGoingToBeFine Mon 03-Oct-16 19:16:36

Do you have any sort of budget in mind?

lifeisnotadressrehersal Mon 03-Oct-16 19:34:24

We would definitely have to rent for a while, 6-12 months I would think. Don't know how the whole applying for a mortgage thing works to be honest. I would assume we would have to live in the country for a while before applying.
Hope we would find something for around £1000/month!!!!!!

dotdotdotmustdash Tue 04-Oct-16 18:19:14

If you fancy Fife, then Cupar is a nice spot and their High School, Bell Baxter, seems to be doing very well. It's a nice little town with lots of villages around it and you're within an hour of Edinburgh or lots of other decent places. This is affordable www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-56368843.html

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