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American family moving - advice and info on education system

(37 Posts)
rosemc Sun 03-Apr-16 07:12:03

My husband's job is relocating him to London, so we are moving to England. We only found out last week, and I'm overwhelmed trying to understand the UK education system along with NHS etc (let alone how to make friends in a new place). We currently live in Boston and have two daughters ages 9 and 7. How are children placed into UK years, will they be tested or just moved into the right age category? Any advice for making the transition would be helpful.

Sirzy Sun 03-Apr-16 07:16:49

When are there birthdays?

They will be in the right academic year for their age, the cut off point is September so your eldest will be in either year 4 or 5 depending on birthday and the youngest year 2 or year 3.

rosemc Sun 03-Apr-16 07:20:52

Oldest daughter is March 3 and younger is November 16. Thanks in advance

yellowsun Sun 03-Apr-16 07:23:44

Your older daughter would currently be in year 4. Your younger would be year 2. School finishes for the holidays in July and in September they would move up to the next year group.

Which area will you be moving to?

Gowgirl Sun 03-Apr-16 07:30:02

The nhs is really not that complicated you need to register with a GP and a dentist, you will need proof of address. For emergencies there is a&e or a walk in centre.

DessertOrDesert Sun 03-Apr-16 07:32:44

As above, they will be placed according to age. Yr 2 and 4 currently, moving up in September.
You may struggle to find places in parts of London. I understand it's over subscribed. They may end up in different schools initially. When you have a house, you can ask for school availability.
NHS. Register with a GP (general physician) practice. No special peads for the kids. General stuff, make an appointment with them. If it needs a specialist, they should refer you. In emergency, go to a hospital with A&E (accident and emergency) department, and they will real with stuff that can't wait.

School run is the best place for finding people with similar aged kids, so take the kids DS to school, and say hello to everyone!!!

Relax and enjoy, and if your new to Expat life, have a look at this MNers book

GinandJag Sun 03-Apr-16 07:37:16

It's a bit of a minefield, tbh.

Are you getting any relocation support, ie with an agent to help you with housing and schools?

The first thing to do is pick a broad area. For people working in London, it's a good idea to base your area for easy access to the Main Line Station that the worker needs to get to. You will then have loads of choice of types of areas.

Within that, you will find the schools.

Are you interested in international schools (American and/or IB curriculum)? There is a huge range in and around London. Independent schools will offer a lot more flexibility with places and year groups.

If you want a state primary school, there are quite rigid entry requirements. The hardest one for expats is having to have an address before you apply. There is huge competition for spaces at good state schools, so you may be disappointed if you don't get a place. Your children aren't in key entry point years, so a school with vacancies will be able to offer very quickly. You could be in a situation where your children are in separate schools, and with no bussing, that could be quite difficult for you.

PenguinsAreAce Sun 03-Apr-16 07:38:34

You need to know which local authority (council) area you will be moving to in order to find out about availability of school places, as they administer admissions to state schools in the UK (I.e. Free ones). Fee-paying schools here are called private, independent, or (confusingly) public schools. In order to apply to a state school you will need a confirmed address, e,g signed rental agreement or purchased house.

Are you coming over to look around or just moving straight over? If you come over first you can go round and visit schools near where you plan to live to get a feel for them and talk to the head teachers. Individual schools may also be able to tell you if they have vacancies in the right year groups, but an application for a place will be via the council.

State schools in the UK are regulated by an inspectorate called OFSTED. The reports on each school can be found on their website by searching using the school postcode/name. There are some flaws I. The inspection system, but the reports can give you more info on each school based in the schools data and a snapshot from the inspection visit. Schools are given ratings for each are of their work and an overall rating. "Special measures" is the worst category, followed by "requires improvement". Good/outstanding are self-explanatory!

One point of difference with the U.S. is that most schools here have uniforms, it is the norm.

PenguinsAreAce Sun 03-Apr-16 07:40:03

Oh yeah, the UK does not have school buses like you do. We have to just get the kids to school.

Manchester's primaries are also very oversubscribed.

BikeRunSki Sun 03-Apr-16 07:43:59

There's The American School in London it is fee paying, but also offers some level of financial aid. Is this maybe a p

BikeRunSki Sun 03-Apr-16 07:44:49


It's in St John's Wood, N London.

Gowgirl Sun 03-Apr-16 07:45:14

If you know the area you are moving to it is likely someone will be able to give you specific advice as it does vary a bit. mN was really helpful when I was moving and a couple of lovely ladies pm d me with area and school advice.

ChablisTyrant Sun 03-Apr-16 07:50:27

I'd be more positive than others about finding school places for years 3 and 5. Many families start to leave London during primary school so even if it is very oversubscribed at age 4, it tends to have places higher up. London primary schools are generally excellent and very good at integrating new children from different countries. I'd urge you to try the state sector before dropping £100k on the American school.

rosemc Sun 03-Apr-16 07:55:37

Wow, thanks for all the info. This is super overwhelming. We aren't particularly interested in American/international schools, especially with the kids being so young. This is likely a long term position for us and we have no idea how settled they will feel in 5 years.

We only committed earlier this week and we aren't getting very much relocation support. I have a friend from college who is from Bristol, and she suggested we look at Sutton or Dulwich. We are looking for middle class, decent state schools, family friendly, excellent public transit access.

Honestly though, very open to neighborhood suggestions.

GinandJag Sun 03-Apr-16 07:57:04

Which part of London will your DH be working in? You need to choose a place to live based on the station he'd be travelling to.

pearlylum Sun 03-Apr-16 07:58:18

"Oh yeah, the UK does not have school buses like you do. We have to just get the kids to school."

Really? All the schools around here have school buses, There is a bus park at our school, it runs 12 buses from all directions, all free. Dozens of taxis too, paid by the LA.

LIZS Sun 03-Apr-16 08:00:17

On your other thread you mention Dulwich or Sutton. South London is very densely populated and state schools oversubscribed so you may find that you are allocated different schools for each child initially but you can go on the waiting list for the other. Neither may be the closest school to your home and you will need to get them there yourself. As a result you tend to meet other schools mums on the gate and may find coffee and gym groups etc.

Private schools are often more flexible on numbers to accommodate siblings, if that is an option. Call now as notice will be required for leavers before the summer term starts and places will open up for

rosemc Sun 03-Apr-16 08:01:57

We don't really have school buses in Boston. We use public transit and walk everywhere, but more rural areas still have them.

He will be working in Canary Wharf

GinandJag Sun 03-Apr-16 08:04:48

I'm sure plenty of Mumnetters will know the best places to live for Canary Wharf, but I think it would be quite a long journey from Sutton.

GinandJag Sun 03-Apr-16 08:08:19

Here's a great website I just found.

Put Canary Wharf in the destination and then hover over the map. It will give travel time, house price and other info for any originating station.

Gowgirl Sun 03-Apr-16 08:17:27

Sutton to Canary Wharf is going to be a bitch of a commute!
Im in zone 2 nice middle class area.

Lightbulbon Sun 03-Apr-16 08:18:36

Do you practice a religion- because that is key to getting into many of the good schools.

Most schools here aren't secular like in the states.

As a cultural guide is highly recommend reading Kate Fox's book 'reading the English' ASAP.

ILeaveTheRoomForTwoMinutes Sun 03-Apr-16 08:18:58

If you want superbs, bear in mind crossrail is under construction, it's supposed to provide a straight route to canarywarf from the West. Although it's not yet running, house prices along the route have already started going up.

OhYouBadBadKitten Sun 03-Apr-16 08:23:01

how long a commute is your dh willing to take?

ILeaveTheRoomForTwoMinutes Sun 03-Apr-16 08:23:40

Cross rail map

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