Considering USA curriculum international schooling, then re entering UK system..advice please!

(14 Posts)
timetosmile Wed 09-May-12 11:48:17

If we move to fairly rural Africa with 3 children 5-11yrs, for 5-10 years at least, we would probably educate them through the local international high school when the time came, as it would be a walk away, rather than boarding, has a lovely ethos and 'feel' and comes highly recommended by colleagues.

The main potentialproblem would be that it is based on an American Curriculum rather than IB or iGCSEs.

Has anyone schooled their chidren through an American system..how did you find it?

And how does it compare at 16+ and 18+? (wondering about how recognised USA qualifications are for sixth form/uni entry in the UK)

Thanks for your help.

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timetosmile Wed 09-May-12 16:17:26

bump for the afterschoolers and those in different time zones...

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ClaireAll Wed 09-May-12 21:19:17

We've done both UK and USA systems.

I think there are no worries at all about primary.

One they are into high school age, the curriculums really diverge, and I think the US system is a lot more based on learning lots of facts, rather than skills and attitudes that you find in the UK system.

NoGoodGirlo Thu 10-May-12 00:36:22

We have also done both systems at both middle and high school. I think we had a different experience to Claire as I preferred the US high school as found it broader with greater opportunity for children to find their own levels and interests.

Not sure why we didn't experience the "learning lots of facts" type of curriculum that we had been led to expect. The school we chose was a private boarding school (but as day students) with children from all over the world and a principal from the UK!

Hopandaskip Thu 10-May-12 07:39:38

I'm originally from England and my kids go to school here in the States. I agree that once they hit GCSE stuff I would think it would be too hard to change. For instance, my son is strong in science and yet will only do one year in physics and biology. At the end of his year in physics they have done stuff that I did at the beginning of secondary school. Colour spectrum, V=IR etc, it really is basic stuff. The math he does next year is a bunch of stuff that mostly we don't do in the UK, e.g. proofs. I think you could probably get away with it up to say, 12yrs old...??

You really don't get the opportunity to specialise at all in American high schools. You do get choices but they end up being very broadly based. For instance, my math/science geek will have to take English and History every year up to 18 (he could have skipped it this year but chose not to), he will take four different sciences most probably, an art, three years of a language, PE for two years, four years of Maths

timetosmile Thu 10-May-12 09:25:06

hopandaskip so a USA system up to 16 wouldn't prepare him for UK A levels? Would it be better to keep him in a USA system to 18+ and then decide what to do abuot Uni?

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Fraktal Thu 10-May-12 10:34:49

USA high school diplomas aren't that great for Uni entry. You would need to be doing a lot of AP stuff to prove that you were of an equivalent A-level standard in your chosen subjects.

If you want a British Uni then I wouldn't opt for American high school. Are there no other options? French or German?

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Hopandaskip Thu 10-May-12 14:43:34

I don't feel he would be well prepared to do A levels, no. I think he could do A level maths without too much trouble and if we thought he would be transferring at 16 we would have had him do advanced physics last year and AP physics this year. He probably would manage because he finds physics incredibly easy, but it would be tough because he would be missing chunks of knowledge.

I don't feel that AP is even A level equivalent, even though they are much tougher courses (DS takes his AP European history tomorrow!) than the usual ones there is only so much time in a year to fit stuff in.

I think an exception is language if you have a linguist. I feel the American schools do that better than British schools. If he had four years of his chosen language (Latin in his case) and went to University to study that I think he would be fine. Also if you have a strongly motivated student (I don't!) they can dual enrol and take college classes online for credit which would strengthen what they come to the table with.

British Unis do take US students and understand the grades. Bristol Uni was at the college fair in San Diego recently that my friend went to. She said that they want US students to do a 'foundation' year before starting on their bachelors.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 10-May-12 21:49:59

We are British and both the DDs are in the American system, in an international school, but they will finish at 18 doing IB (or possibly, but fairly unlikely, AP). We have found the curriculum broad, interesting and challenging, and they teach to the child's level, rather than its age in eg maths (DD1 learns maths with the year above, the maths geeks learn with kids who are two years older). There is no rote learning (beyond tables) and children are taught to analyse and challenge from primary level (which mine found quite a challenge). But it really depends on the school.

The school the DDs are at is quite academic and sends kids to the Ivy League, Oxbridge, LSE etc etc every year. A High School Diploma won't get you into a university in the UK. Look at what universities the leavers go to - that should give you a feel for how academic the school is. The DDs also get an hour of French a day, and they are both quite fluent now, after two years, and DD1 will start Spanish next year.

Interestingly, there are lots of British teachers at the school, who have fled the national curriculum, and seem to really enjoy teaching here, because they have some choice in what they do and how they do it.

MrsSchadenfreude Thu 10-May-12 21:51:44

Does the school offer AP? If it only offers the High School Diploma, then I personally wouldn't touch it with a bargepole.

timetosmile Thu 10-May-12 22:12:10

Thanks MrsS, thats very helpful! I know they send leavers to Ivy League and it does have a very good academic reputation.

This thread is proving to be very helpful in letting me think through the pros and cons of an American curriculum and its implications for DCs.

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Hopandaskip Sat 12-May-12 03:14:14

I thought of another reason to not switch at 16.

If you are like me and plan to do Maths, Physics and Chemistry at A level then you would drop subjects like English and History and foreign language without possibly ever taking nationwide ability testing in them because you wouldn't have done GCSEs . State testing isn't terribly helpful or high level but I guess you could use that or you could do early SATs.

kickassangel Sat 12-May-12 03:34:39

There is no such thing as an 'American Curriculum' - each state has its own rules/curriculum.

In general students don't specialise until they are in college, and maybe not until their 3rd or 4th year there - so all education is a broad range rather than in depth study. If they do send people to Ivy Leagues then prob their standards are high enough to mean a child could transfer from their system to A Levels without too many problems, but it may depend on the subject. e.g. Math & Science will still be taught in broad general terms rather than any specialism, so they just won't have covered the same materials & may need to catch up with certain concepts.

I don't know how UK colleges would deal with 'equivalency' when it comes to them, either. Each school/district decides who has graduated or not - there is no standard level that all students have to get to before they graduate from high school. UK colleges probably have a way to deal with applicants from oversees, but they may require some additional testing.

I would say that it is quite difficult for students to transfer either part way through GCSE or A Level courses. Each exam board sets its own coursework and exam topics/texts. So a student who has done half of a GCSE in one exam board, usually finds that they have to redo the whole thing AND catch up on one or two topics that will be studied for the final exams. This is the case if they are just transferring within the uk, it gets even harder to co-ordinate when they start moving countries.

Having said that, it is a teacher's duty to give every pupil the best chance they can have - I would consider it their duty to ensure that students can catch up if they have the ability.

I've taught in both the UK & US btw.

Hopandaskip Sat 12-May-12 06:24:48

this is what Bristol say...

www.bristol.ac.uk/international/study-at-bristol/how-to-apply/country-specific/az-u/usa.html#sats

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