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Education VS Quality of life

(74 Posts)
QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 17:49:13

I am posting this in education as I want to address the educational aspect of our issues.

Some background:

Ds1: He is 11. Currently thriving in Y7 in an independent school. He is academically minded and doing well. His favorite and best subjects are maths, IT and science, especially physics and chemistry.
He did Reception and Y1 in London, then moved to Norway after Y1, where he started school from fresh. They start aged 6 in Norway, the educational system is much slower on ks1 and ks2 level than in Britain.
We returned to Britain for him to rejoin his class in Y5, after 3 years away. He had a massive gap in his learning to close, and did so easily by help of a tutor, and achieved L6 in maths.

Ds2: He is 8. Currently doing well in Y4. Went straight from Norwegian nursery to Y2 in London. Spent Y2 learning to read and write, and were just above national average at the end of Y3. His favourite subjects are also maths and science, biology in particular. He is very practical, and sporty.

We are currently pondering whether to return to Norway.

This would mean a choice of:

A. Bog standard school for both of them. Most likely put a year up due to higher abilities. No fees to pay. Free UNI, ranked 306 in the world, after Oxford and UCL.

B. International School with an IB programme. Free Uni.

Ds1 is happy at his current school. Ds2 is the type of child who could be happy anywhere.

How disadvantaged will they be if we do this move?

We are not really happy in London. Life in Norway is much more outdoors, with a much better work life balance. Our financial situation would be much better.

But right now, I just want to try understand the educational implications. Do we stay in Britain in the understanding that we are purely here for a good education for our children, or go to Norway where they will have a different education but most likely a better quality of life.

HamletsSister Sun 12-Jan-14 17:52:54

What happens to them after university? What would employment prospects be? What do they think? I would put quality of life first, myself.

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 18:03:24

For ds2, the local university is specializing in the polar region, with stuff like snow physics, arctic biology, marine studies, etc. Lots of research regards to aurora borealis, planetary, atmosphere, environmental studies, global warming, avalanche, etc. Both the university and the polar research institute are major players globally within polar research. Ds2 is adamant he wants to study environmental studies and mammology, he is very concerned about global warming and polar ice melting and the effect on animal life in the region.

Ds1 does not have a specific thing he is interested in, he likes the idea of engineering and computer studies. But work wise? There are jobs, not just fishing and local government.

marialuisa Sun 12-Jan-14 18:09:43

How did they find school in Norway before?

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 18:12:36

DS1 did not have a good experience. DS2 never experienced school there.

If we go back it will be to a different school. DS1 will either go to a local secondary, or the International School with IB. DS2 could also go there. Otherwise he will go to a different school which I know is better than the school ds1 went to.

NK5BM3 Sun 12-Jan-14 18:14:39

Are both of you Norwegian? Would you have the added advantage of grandparents, relations that they'll enjoy connecting with?

They sound bright tbh. I feel that means that they'll survive in whatever 'educational' setting they are in.

I'm an academic and a lot of our European students thrive here, but they would have thrived in their home country too (which was why they got chosen to go overseas for a year I suppose).

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 18:33:41

Ok - how about this:

Don't move DS1. Because he's old enough to mind being removed from a school he's happy at. If you disrupt that he may never forget it or forgive you. (Experience speaking here...) Obviously don't know your financial situation - but I would suggest you seriously consider boarding for him, either quite soon or at 13+. (Is he clever enough or are you poor enough for bursaries? If needed.)

That way the rest of you can proceed to Norway - and you'll have plenty of time to decide about DS2's future as he'll be happy with you for the moment. DS1 will have your preferred lifestyle for pretty much half the year...

Is there any reason why they could not take advantage of the Norwegian university even if educated here? (Is is only free if you've been at school there?)

titchy Sun 12-Jan-14 18:36:08

I'd prioritise quality of life I think, with the caveats that you have given London a good go - I'm not sure you've been here that long have you? And you take ds2's current aspirations with a very large pinch of salt - he will probably change his mind and strengths several times before he picks a university, ds1 also. How do they feel about a move back? Would they want to stay in norway, or would the older one resent the move and try and get back to the uk at uni stage (very expensive!)?

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 19:14:03

I was born in Norway, went to school there, started at the university of my home town, and could not continue in my chosen field and applied to UCL. I moved to London in 1993, and met my husband here.

Both children were born here. DH is Polish. Our sons are English Norwegian bilingual. They have grand parents in Norway and Poland. Some family in Britain. My sister lives in Spain. Next year her dd starts Uni back home, she wants to do biology and environmental studies. In Norway we have my cousins and their children, my childhood friends with children similar ages to ours, so a much larger network.

I have only lived in Norway for 3 years since 1993, have lived here most of my adult life.

I had not thought about boarding for ds1. There will be funds for that. He does not adapt as easily as ds2. This caused him issues adapting the first time we moved to Norway. But he is older now. He has friends in Norway, in fact more friends that he sees outside the family setting there than here. Boys he can go to the cinema alone with, or meet at the ski lifts and just leave him to it.

We have to make a choice soon, as we either have to sell our home in Norway and stay here. Or move there.

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 19:16:29

I think ds1 would want to move back to the UK.

I do take what ds2 say with a pinch of salt as he is only 8. He has said the same thing for 2 years though, and has always had an interest in animals, plants etc, so feel quite sure he will eventually settle for something related to natural science. Or be a stunt man. hmm

KatyMac Sun 12-Jan-14 19:29:03

Quint; I don't know about Norway but my Brother understands that in Sweden (where he lives) the Maths/Science taught at school then uni is lower than some of the rest of Europe (Germany/UK)

Is this a risk in Norway or is it a better system?

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 19:30:02

I think it is the same in Norway. The Norwegian school system is not great, though not that much worse than the UK if we are to believe the Pisa tests.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 19:32:17

I think you might have to accept hat you may not be able to have everything you want and some compromises might have to be made....

But you're in a very fortunate position since it seems you can afford to fund any of your options.

Please do think carefully about DS1 in particular for now. Titchy raised an interesting point about university. If DS1 - who seems happier educationally in England - wanted to attend an English university the cost would be astronomical if he has not been living here. (Whatever the rules are by then...) So be careful not to wipe out his options by choices you make now.

But I'm sure the happiness of parents has a pretty big influence on children as well. Why not start from the assumption that you will move - and then work out how to do it in a way that causes the least disruption?

KatyMac Sun 12-Jan-14 19:34:43

So for sciencey DS2 moving might not be ideal?

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 19:39:34

I think ds2 would take the move best. Ds1 would perhaps struggle socially like he did the last time. But I am not sure.

When we are in Norway for holidays they both say they want to stay. When we are back here, they both say they are happy to be home.

We have not discussed it with them, as I think it is too big responsibility to put on their shoulders.

But I guess we should ask what they think.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 19:43:15

I'm assuming you must already have had all the usual conversations with DS1's school - or is he now already in the first year of senior school? (What I mean is - would boarding be a natural progression to the next stage or is he already settled through to 18?)

Because the more I read from you the more I think you must try to let him stay here. He can do all the lifestyle stuff every single hoilday.

And it's good that you have some family here. Would they be close enough to manage exeats and short breaks for him?

Verycold Sun 12-Jan-14 19:43:46

What motivated you to return to the UK last time? What has changed for you to think of Norway as the better place to be again?

NK5BM3 Sun 12-Jan-14 19:48:38

What does your dh think? I'm assuming his job is fine wherever he is located? And yours?

I'm in a slightly similar position in that I'm foreign and dh is from here (although not where we currently live). In this country we have the
grandparents and some family although not v close at all - see them twice a year etc.

If we relocate to my home, we will have the grandparents and my brother, his kids, my cousins and their kids all living pretty near to each other so we will see each other pretty often (at least once a month for extended family birthdays, and weekly for the grandparents). Standard of living much higher too. But education would be v stressful (if the Pisa tests are to be believed) so kids will be under tremendous pressure to work hard etc.

Sorry - didn't mean to hijack!! blush

I would do what pp suggested and maybe shift your mindset to if you are moving and then see where that takes you in terms of how you feel etc

How long have you been here anyway? I understand that it takes at least 2 years for people to feel comfortable.

Dromedary Sun 12-Jan-14 19:55:37

Reading your post, OP, its seems very clear to me that you should move back to Norway. There is masses in favour of that, and very little in favour of staying in the UK. Plus let's face it England isn't the nicest place to be in the current political climate.

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 19:56:18

Zero, he is in the first year of senior school. This school offers no boarding. We are in London. He moved to a private school after going to an RC primary.
Boarding would mean a move to a new school.

There were many issues that led us to leave Norway:
1. ds1 was bullied in school and not happy. But, he was also bullied in his primary upon his return, and did not feel part of the class at any point. He said later that that the bullying in the RC primary was constant and categorical, whereas in Norway there was just the odd incident and he still had friends.

2. My mum had gotten her formal Alzheimer diagnosis, and deteriorated so much in the space of 6 months that she was given a place in a carehome. We got a good care package for my dad at home. He had a stroke 12 years ago and is paralyzed in a wheelchair. Mum was his carer. We moved to Norway to get their situation under control when we discovered mums Alzheimer back in 2007.

3. Double taxation issues. They were driving me nuts. I now know how to avoid this.

4. Work. We have a uk company. Impossible to run from overseas. DH has had enough and is keen for new challenges. Looking for somebody to run it for him/buy it.

I am currently doing an MBA, distance learning at the UNI at home. I will be more employable after I complete this.
DH is keen to rejoin the red cross mountain rescue.

ZeroSomeGameThingy Sun 12-Jan-14 20:00:48

Ah. That's not so good. I'm sure there's a solution but DS1 has done quite a lot of moving....

WeAreDetective Sun 12-Jan-14 20:02:45

From what you write, I think you should move back to Norway. Your pros outweigh the cons. Are the reasons that DC1 didn't settle in the school in Norway due to the country or that particular school?

newgirl Sun 12-Jan-14 20:03:18

Would you consider moving to more rural area of uk? Eg Suffolk where fab schools and housing - depends on your jobs. Best both worlds?

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 20:07:12

When we came to Norway, he was 6, he did not speak that much Norwegian. This set him out as the only child in school who could not speak the language. He had also had two years of maths at his school in London, and he was soon branded a "maths genius". He had extra help in Norwegian literacy, and praised for his English and Maths skills. The school did not stretch him in maths, but gave him "sideways" exercises. Other schools would have moved a child up, but this one did not. He was utterly bored in Maths and English, and confused by Norwegian literacy.

QuintessentialShadows Sun 12-Jan-14 20:09:25

He will be in secondary now. I have friends who teach in the local secondaries so have insight regards to these schools. He would have a much different experience in secondary. There is also the option of the International School, where he can study for IB. The teaching is in English, and it is a very, well, international school. The parents are mostly scientists at the polar research institute, or working at the UNI. A friend of mine is the assistant head there, I can bring the boys for trial days to see how they like it any time.

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