Moving from the US to the UK

(151 Posts)
MJIG Fri 04-Jan-13 14:59:49

We will be moving to the London from the US with our daughter who will be starting year 11 in September. Can anyone offer advice on state schools? I understand that she would be entering a school in the middle of the GCSE years so I am looking for information on what type of school would help her assimilate best into the UK system. We would like her to move on to the IB diploma.

whiteflame Fri 04-Jan-13 15:50:21

Hello MJIG. I am not particularly knowledgeable about UK schools, but you are right in thinking this is in the middle of GCSEs. A lot (all?) schools spread the GCSE syllabus over Y10 and Y11, including internal assessments/course work that counts for the final grade (although I understand this internal aspect may be changing very soon). So it can be very difficult to slot into Y11. Private schools are often more open to this sort of thing (and offering the IB).

Maybe this discussion will help, although it is a bit old.

In terms of the IB, this might be useful.

Good luck!

MJIG Fri 04-Jan-13 18:10:00

Thanks whiteflame

NewYearBlues Fri 04-Jan-13 18:15:00

Have you considered an international school like the ones in Cobham and Culham, or the french school in london (the lysee?) ?

MJIG Fri 04-Jan-13 20:15:54

New Year Blues-We are looking at non-fee paying schools. Most of the international schools seem to be very expensive.

lljkk Fri 04-Jan-13 20:22:46

Is there a state school in London offering IB?
Whereabouts in London will you be living, OP?

ohfunnyhoneyface Fri 04-Jan-13 20:23:15

I don't think you'll find it easy to find a non fee paying school doing the IB at GCSE. I know of sixth forms doing it- but as an alternative to AS And A2.

Which area are you looking at for schools?

BettySuarez Fri 04-Jan-13 20:28:59

Your daughter will arrive just in time to sit her GCSE exams, most of these will be sat May/June time.

It won't be easy for her having to make the transition (and I do sympathise as we almost had to make the same transition in reverse)

In all likelihood she will find that she is ahead in some subjects but behind in others.

One concern is that her school friends will have had lots of exam practice and have been coached according to the specific exam board.

I think her only option is to take the exams, do the very best she can and see what happens with her results.

She could always then do year 12 at Sixth Form/College to resit those exams that she needs to improve upon before embarking on the IB

juliewalters Fri 04-Jan-13 20:33:40

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MJIG Fri 04-Jan-13 20:55:36

My husband will be working near the Aldgate East tube station. His recruiter mentioned several towns in Surrey to us. We are not set on any particular area. We have been trying to look at what schools would be best for our daughter and would be willing to move to that area. Two schools that have been recommended to us are the Hockerill School in Bishop's Stortford and the Anglo European School in Ingatestone.

ohfunnyhoneyface Fri 04-Jan-13 22:03:59

Anglo European is very good and more easy to get into at yr 11 as there is always less movement at this juncture.

You have the option of paying for a tutor to 'catch up' on missing areas.

I would imagine Anglo would offer a reduced timetable to give your child the best chance of securing grades that reflect your child's ability.

ohfunnyhoneyface Fri 04-Jan-13 22:05:20

And Anglo would certainly offer the IB at AS/A2 and be very experienced at delivering the syllabus- unlike other colleges who have had dissapointing results following patchy delivery.

sashh Sat 05-Jan-13 04:04:05

Have you thought about college? College as in 16 - 19 (but they actually take students from age 14)

She is going to have to work increddibly hard and be very bright to do GCSEs in one year - US colleges take 5 GCSEs as being equivelant to a HS diploma.

At college she could do English and Maths GCSEs alongside vocational courses that would get her into an IB programme.

Is this a permenant move or will she be going back to the US?

There is a US Highschool in London, I think it's fee paying but has bursaries - let me do a quick google

http://www.asl.org/page.cfm?p=2021

Could you ask for fees as part of the package?

Would you consider home schooling?

whiteflame Sat 05-Jan-13 08:15:41

sash homeschooling could be a good idea. If this would be an option OP, you could look into what sixth form schools/colleges want when accepting home school students into Y12, and depending on what you find, homeschooling for Y11.

Don't worry, the British school system is not always this unwelcoming. It's only really moving into Y11 or Y13 that can be so tricky because of the 2-year courses.

creamteas Sat 05-Jan-13 14:22:16

When is your DD's birthday OP? If she is a summer baby, you might find a school willing to take her into year 10 so she could do the full two years before exams.

A school (not in London) did this for one of my colleagues and it worked really well for them. Their DD was an August born, so only a couple of weeks difference between her and her peers.

MJIG Sat 05-Jan-13 15:42:28

I find the whole school system very confusing. My daughter does very well in school. She in on the high honor roll which means that she gets all A's. What is the difference between a college, secondary school and 6th form school? I have been looking at this list
http://rankings.ft.com/secondary-schools/secondary-schools-2012 but there are so many variables accredited, academy, independent, grammar. Home schooling is not an option for us. Any help would be appreciated

lljkk Sat 05-Jan-13 16:11:43

I am American born & raised so I understand your confusion.

To try to answer questions, and to go back to basics:

Year 11 in England is the school year when they turn 16. It is quite unusual for kids to go up a year or be held back, so assume it's set in stone what year she'll be in. Will she turn 16 next school year (1 Sept 2013-31 Aug 2014)?

GCSEs are typically (for now, subject to future change) awarded as part of 2-3 course, including a series of tests and some coursework (projects/homework). But you're talking about bring her in for just half of that time. If she's a straight-A student the odds are high that she could get decent GCSEs even if she just did half the coursework, but the results may well not be what you want to get her into American Universities (how to do that from Britain is a whole 'nother thread).

If you speak to individual schools they may suggest different things, including purely exam-based GCSE awards (IGCSEs). For these she wouldn't need to do 2 years of course work, she would just study her butt off to pass 2x2 hour exams held over a 10 day period, which could be administered at almost any time. You would pay exam fees for the IGCSEs, I think typically about £100/exam. The IGCSEs are not all that hard, my friend's HE 12yo has passed them and he's only moderately bright.

"College" in England, also called "6th form college", was traditionally only for university prep, and targetted at kids age 16-19. At College they specialise in just 3-4 subjects; on its own, rather unsuitable prep for most American universities, I imagine.

I wouldn't know if any London or Surrey state schools offer IB; your googling is as good as mine for that.

I am wondering if she could attend yr11 here but study for high school diploma equivalent (GCE?) in your home state, in meantime. If there's someway she could swing that and then the pressure is off about GCSE results.

I hope that clarifies a few things.

lljkk Sat 05-Jan-13 16:23:37

okay, me still being educated, I live in the sticks where we don't even have things like IB, lol.

Something else I didn't explain is that some secondaries have 6th forms but many don't, so don't assume your DD will stay on the same school from yr11 onwards. No need to plan for one school from yr11 thru IB.

I would start phoning & emailing schools and asking them about how your DD could go about getting 5 GCSEs from just one year of attendance at their state school. It's in the Google keywords so other Londoners are looking for same thing, must be possible, somewhere! But unless someone here knows for sure, I think most productive thing is directly contacting the state schools to ask what is possible.

I think that it will be impossible for someone not coached in the GCSE system to get all top grades especially in the humanities subjects, so if you can manage to get her at least the full two years of prep it'd be good. It's not that the content is necessarily more difficult (I wouldn't know), more that they want you to think and react to the questions in a very specific way and you need to get the hang of it. Your DD sounds very bright but she will have to adjust considerably to get the same grades here. Also be aware that the British grade scale for GCSE goes up to A* (which is supposed to mean that you're the top of the top and which, IMHO, means very little....but that's a contentious topic....).
I would consider doing A levels if she easily gets the hang of GCSEs....they are apparently slightly less demanding than the IB and count for just as much, and British unis are much more familiar with them.

Secondary schools are the schools most kids go to at age 11 through to 16. Year 11 is the last mandatory year of schooling (usually age 15/16). Before that it's primary school. You take your GCSEs at the end of secondary school. Then you can either leave the school system and go into employment, take a gap year or do whatever else, or go and do a diploma or A levels (the exams between GCSE and university).

Colleges are usually much bigger, you don't necessarily get as much support or "interference" from the teachers unless you go and look for it. They also tend to offer vocational courses on top of the A level courses. If your DD is very motivated re: achievement in school and she can cope with being a small fish in a big pond, and wants to meet a wide range of people from all walks of life, college would probably be a good fit for her. They're usually state run (non fee paying).

Year 12 and 13 are the last two years of school before uni and they're optional. If you do A levels, Year 12 equates to AS levels and Year 13 to A2 levels.

Sixth forms are attached to schools. So some secondary schools may only have Years 7-11 (ages 11-16) or they may have Years 7-13 (ages 11-18). You get more support, homework gets chased up, you might still have to wear a uniform (probably not if it's a state school) but you have more privileges and you have free periods- maybe a bit like study hall in America? except you can usually do whatever you want in them.

I have no experience of grammar schools but they're highly respected. Sort of like non fee-paying private schools....except you can't find them everywhere.

Anyway- so that's a quick run through. I just went through the UCAS cycle (applying to uni, in my case with A levels, having gone to a sixth form which was attached to a different secondary school than the one I'd done my GCSEs at....) last year and it all seems quite blurry to me now....
Lots of luck to your DD. Don't get too fazed, in a week or so you'll know all these terms backwards and forwards!

MJIG Sat 05-Jan-13 16:43:39

Thank you for the explanations!

LIZS Sat 05-Jan-13 16:56:15

"college" can be a 6th Form (ie Years 12&13) for A levels/IB or Further Education college which typically takes students post GCSE , but may also take adult students, on a full or part time basis and offers A levels, NVQ (Vocational Qualifications) Level 1 onwards, Btec Diplomas, basic professional qualifications, Access courses etc . Increasingly they are also taking 14-16 year olds from local schools not suited to traditional GCSE courses on a link scheme with more practical orientation for a day or two a week.

tbh your dd's suitability to enter a gcse course half way through may be determined by which type of qualification is being sat and from which exam board Some gcse/igcse courses place little if any emphasis on coursework , more so on June exams so may be achievable in a year depending on the relevance of her current education.

MJIG Sat 05-Jan-13 17:27:56

Her core classes are algebra, biology, honors english, honors global studies and spanish 2. Are these equivalent classes to the GCSE's? I think the GCSE's also teach physics and chemistry. Are there other differences?

ggirl Sat 05-Jan-13 17:38:46

is global studies another name for geography?

yes she should have some physics and chemistry in there as well

I have no advice btw just sympathy ..it's a bit of a minefield isn't it.

I was educated in Canada eons ago and came here to do nursing , my grade 13 secondary diploma was equal to Alevel standard but not specialised like A levels. Totally useless info but thought I'd throw that in there for good measure grin

ohfunnyhoneyface Sat 05-Jan-13 17:39:23

We split English into Lang and Lit and science is taught in the three disciplines.

Algebra is just part of maths (although you can take statistics as a seperate GCSE normally only offered to top sets)

Have you spoken to Anglo school? Have they got a space or an idea of what programme your daughter could study?

ohfunnyhoneyface Sat 05-Jan-13 17:41:21

Oh and I know of three students (my own school, a friend and someone I tutored) who arrived in the UK from English speaking countries in year 11 and got all As at GCSE- reduced number of subjects and extra help was needed- but it is do-able.

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