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Don't think I want our kids to have a UK education any more

(60 Posts)
feesh Sat 01-Mar-14 18:34:22

I couldn't decide where to post this, but I figured you lot might be more understanding and less defensive grin

We live in the Middle East and since we moved here, have had two gorgeous little kids. I am starting to think about where they should go to school, even though it's a couple of years off yet.

I always kind of assumed we'd go back to England at some point, probably before they start school, mainly because we don't get an education allowance here, but also because I have elderly parents and I never planned on staying an expat forever.

But the more I read about the UK education system on Mumsnet, the more depressed I get and I don't think I want to put our kids through it. I know some schools are better than others, but it's more the general principles of education now that I'm struggling with, such as :

- Ridiculous amounts of homework for primary school kids - when are they supposed to play, socialise, develop hobbies?
- Ofsted and their arbitrary ranking of schools and how league table obsessed everyone is
- Segregating kids according to ability in PRIMARY school! I think it's terrible. I was a G&T child, but we were never put in sets that young and I just have happy, fun memories of primary school without there being any pressure, which I think helped me to see that learning can be fun and enjoyable.
- Exams at primary level (SATs). I don't agree with this at all.
- Weird stuff they learn nowadays such as phonics and number bonds (this is me just being an old biddy and thinking "Well I didn't learn that and it didn't do me any harm" I freely admit!).

Anyone else thinking similarly? And if so, what do you plan to do about it? I would be interested to hear other views on the issue.

TheLeftovermonster Sun 09-Mar-14 20:42:46

We moved back to the UK from Dubai a few years ago, and I couldn't believe how poor the kids' new UK school was, compared to the Dubai one - and they supposedly follow the same curriculum!
It was not my first choice of school, tbh, and I have since found a better one. The thing about the English curriculum is that it can be delivered in different ways, which is great in the case of some schools, while others can get away with teaching the bare minimum and ticking boxes. Hence hysteria over league tables, school places, etc.

Pupsiecola Tue 04-Mar-14 11:14:34

I agree blueshoes. Drives DH dippy that they're learning French. Especially given that they've come back from overseas and are beginners at it when their peers aren't. So they feel a bit lost. And DS1 is continuing with his Mandarin which he really enjoys.

blueshoes Tue 04-Mar-14 08:37:47

One thing UK schools don't do well is languages. If putting your dcs in a different environment will allow them to pick up a useful language, that is a big plus.

SookyLaLa Tue 04-Mar-14 08:31:14

Oh how very clever of her Savoy, you must be so proud. DD is scared of crocodiles at the moment, wrestling and training tigers really is quite brave.

shellybr Tue 04-Mar-14 07:55:38

we are in Perth and find my sons school excellent. I have one in Year 2 and 1 in Kindy. In both Kindy and preprimary they do heaps of activities to enhance their fine motor skills. So it must differ from state to state. They use playdoh all the time too.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 03-Mar-14 20:35:07

Yes they'd definitely do that in my daughters reception class. They actively do.

SavoyCabbage Mon 03-Mar-14 20:30:54

The TA comment was about the fact that there is often little additional help within the school itself. My dd had poor fine motor skills and therefore poor pencil control. I think if she had been at school in the UK the natural progression of things would have been that TA would have helped my dd and the other little boy in her class with this. Sat with them and given them some extra help maybe. My dd's teacher wouldn't have had time to give my dd additional support. So you have to pay for it. Which of course only works if you can afford it. And if you give a toss.

Also, dd would have had the opportunity to do activities that improved her fine motor skills at a school in the uk. Threading, play doh etc, none of which happen in any school I have worked at in Victoria.

Obviously I did do that stuff at home, but she mostly preferred wrestling and training tigers in her spare time.

SookyLaLa Mon 03-Mar-14 15:17:48

oh sorry Goodness, I didn't see your comment about healthcare! I am actually in two minds about that. I'm in London and I can say honestly my experience with GP, hospitals etc has been horrible - I do resent having to pay towards the NI when I get such shit service. I do hear though outside of London it works well so perhaps its just unfortunate for me.

Don't get me wrong, I would hate to live in the US and need medical attention for example, it's great how healthcare is available to all. But I have a friend who in the last 12 months has introduced me to two of her friends who have come over to the UK to give birth and then gone home. Obviously they are British as they have NI number, but if you are not actively paying into the NI then I don't think you should be able to use it. Although I'm not sure how they could police that...

Regarding schooling, the other options for us is either back to Australia or to Ireland. My DH is Irish and he says they have a very good education system. I'm really not that fussed by it all, I have looked at Ofsted reports for local school because I feel like a bad parent if I don't but I really feel it's a combination of the school, the parents input and time with their DC, and of course the students ability. If my DD left school and got an apprenticeship for example I'd be happy enough with that (even though DH and I are both tertiary educated and deep down just assume she will be too!).

BlameItOnTheBogey Mon 03-Mar-14 15:16:53

OP I am overseas and have had the conundrum of which education system to choose. The things that I find so depressing about how education is delivered in England are:

- The idea that parents can't make the right choices for their kids (what to pack in their lunch boxes, whether they should be off school on a certain day or whether they can take an additional day holiday etc)

- The crazy system of how to get into a good school which seems totally unfathomable and against the spirit in which it was designed (e.g. you pay for a very expensive house super close to a good school or take your chances…)

But I think the education itself is pretty good compared to other systems which seem either rather too rote learning or conversely, too little academics.

No system is perfect I guess - and within each system there are better and worse schools. But if I am honest it is one of the reasons I'm not keen to come back to the UK.

SouthernHippyChick Mon 03-Mar-14 15:08:50

It's not perfect but i appreciate the teacher training, the resourcing, the breadth of the curriculum and the oversight there is compared to where we've been. And it's "free"!

SookyLaLa Mon 03-Mar-14 15:07:07

Thanks Goodness, I was referring to her comment 'There was no extra help at school in the form of TAs etc.'. I was just pointing out that if her DD needed an OT then a TA really wouldn't have been much use?

The health system in Australia isn't like the UK - you pay as you go, and if the other student couldn't afford it then they should have been referred to community services where it is much cheaper to see OT, ST etc (granted there is a waiting list as most people do it this way).

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 03-Mar-14 14:38:22

Savoy is talking about Australia where all additional help is paid for by the family, I believe.

Why don't you want your child educated here Sooky? Where would you rather they were educated? I'm not sure its perfect but then when you look elsewhere and at other countries sometimes it makes you appreciate what it is like here. Similarly healthcare!

My daughter is doing really well with school here, and again I don't recognise a lot of the comments. I do wish there wasn't so much pressure on teachers though, and that they were allowed to just get on wtih their job.

SookyLaLa Mon 03-Mar-14 14:21:07

This is an interesting thread but reading it reiterates why I don't want my DC educated in England sorry!

Savoy I don't understand your comment about an OT and TA? If your daughter was struggling so much she needed to see an OT, then I don't believe a TA could help her??

Perhaps it's because DH and I both didn't go through the school system here (and we went through different ones to each other also) but all this pressure on where the kids are up to, schools fining for absences etc, just makes me shudder at the thought of having to go through it for the next 12/13 years.

SooticaTheWitchesCat Mon 03-Mar-14 10:35:00

My children are educated in primary school in England and they only have a small amount of homework once a week. I don't know anyone who is league table obsessed and the children are not really segregated, at KS2 they do have groups for literature and numeracy but I think it does them good as they are all at different stages. The rest of the time they are together as a class.

Yes, they do have SATs but only in Y6.

Actually I find number bonds and phonics a great way to learn, far better than how we learned at that age (now I actually understand it - lol)

I think you have got a slightly wring view of UK education. Maybe you need to come over and have a look at some schools to see how they really work, it may make you feel better about sending you children to school here.

Pupsiecola Mon 03-Mar-14 08:48:40

Doh. Clearly brain not engaged yesterday and thought you were being literal. Thanks for clearing that up!!

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Mon 03-Mar-14 08:40:28

Thanks Savoy,

Talking to my in-law (occasional occurance) I did get the idea there was no planning other than "I think I fancy teaching x this week".

I didn't know that about OT. It's all tied in with school referals here isn't it?

They get better results than us over all don't they? I've had it fed to me how much better it is they start a year later/teachers aren't constrained by nat curriculum/ teachers from here all flock over there as its a better place to teach/ all our over emphasis on planning/targets leaves less time to teach.

It's quite nice to hear the other perspective!

I did like that they do more sport though. I think.

SavoyCabbage Mon 03-Mar-14 06:20:57

Goodness, I feel as if the education is 'one size fits all'. If you don't fit the mainstream then there is very little provision. There isn't much depth to anything.

There can be little to no planning. (I am a supply teacher).

Some schools have everything that opens and shuts whilst others have nothing.

If you don't pay for things, you don't get them. So my dd2 needed occupational therapy as she was struggling with her writing. There was no extra help at school in the form of TAs etc. So she had to see a $180 for 45 minutes OT. We got $18 back on Medibank. The other child in her class who was also struggling did not get any as his mother couldn't afford it. A year and a half later and hes still struggling away.

According to my dd's teachers for the last few years, my oldest dd is ahead. But I know she wouldn't be at a UK school because I am a teacher. In fact my dd went to school recently with my nephew when she was in the UK and she was in no way ahead.

Sunnysummer Mon 03-Mar-14 05:19:46

This thread is really comforting to read! smile We're in Asia at the moment, and a lot of the recent threads have made me really stressed about ever getting a place at a half-decent school in London, let alone the experience for the DCs (though it does seem like we can forget about being able to take DCs to visit overseas family with different school holidays) confused

PlainBrownEnvelope Mon 03-Mar-14 04:23:37

pupsie Dont worry- i was being tongue in cheek. There just seems to be this thing in HK of doing down other schools, so people stand around saying that X school is full of drugs, Y school has a bullying issue, Girl A at Z School got pregant at 14, but of course ABC school, where their kids go, is a utopian society of abstenious high achievers. Realistically I think all schools in Hk probably have some kids in them that take drugs and have sex. That's just the law of averages. I'm sure it would be the same in most of the London day schools. I certainly went to school with people who were having sex at 13/14 and drinking in the park. It didnt really affect me negatively, and they were certainly the minority.

Greythorne Sun 02-Mar-14 23:41:31

OP - you need to educate yourself before you take any decisions about your DCs education.

You clearly have no idea what phonics or number bonds are so how you can be against them is just odd.

Hit the education boards and start reading up.

GoodnessIsThatTheTime Sun 02-Mar-14 23:17:59

Wow giggly.

my aussie in laws despair that we have a British education. They're feed the idea theirs is so superior etc.

meerkate Sun 02-Mar-14 17:20:15

feesh please don't worry - i also feel like most on here that there are great schools here in the uk and that the media really paints a very negative and depressing picture which doesn't reflect the reality. although i am keen on moving back overseas (we're in the UK right now) one of the things i will miss on my DCs' behalf is the schooling!

giggly Sun 02-Mar-14 17:00:10

I'm with savoy with my experience of Oz schools, my dd is about 6 months behind her age group in Scotland, and she is expected to do 40-50 minutes homework each night. They have maths tests every week and this year starts Naplan testing as well. She is 8 and stresses over these. She does get plenty of sport during the week though. And you have to pay for all the books, buy particular pencils, crayons, etc buy the teachers markers, boxes of tissues, paper fking plates the list goes on.....

Fannydabbydozey Sun 02-Mar-14 16:20:06

My kids have just done this week's homework... God forbid they spread it over the week!

Year. 6 child - find a poem he liked, memorise it and write about why he liked it, referring to the poetic features and things the poet has used for effect. Present it all to the class. Also had a maths sheet about timetables ans estimating. Spelling.

Year 4 child - design a dance workout for a song of their choice. Be prepared to demonstrate this in class. Spelling.

They are also both expected to read - mine now do this before going to sleep. Since implementing this, their reading has come on brilliantly.

Not onerous and for the most part fun. My son looked up poems on the internet, discovered the doom and gloom poems of Hillaire Belloc, read some of the more extreme ones to us for a laugh then chose one. My daughter has been fannying around reahearsing in her room.

I write this as their homework in Dubai was ALWAYS the same: spelling, literacy and maths worksheets. Not particularly creative, not particularly inventive. And I really liked the school!

Primary school seems to have come a looooong way since I was there. Their lessons seem MUCH more fun and they appear to remember what they are learning. This week they have been writing blogs and making films in lessons. And lots of great stuff like enrichment every Friday afternoon and the wonderful forest school. All I remember from my very strict Scottish Academy primary was doing handwriting for hours, chanting timetables and avoiding the belt!

DRUGS! Not in this primary. They did cyber safety the other week and none of the year6's have mobile phones, let alone drugs! This is a small village school though.

blueshoes Sun 02-Mar-14 16:18:24

A country always looks worse if you only rely on foreign reported news.

During the 7/7 bombings you would be forgiven if you thought London was overrun with terrorists but actually Londoners still love the city and are damn proud to live in it.

If you can afford independent schools, then it is a no brainer. You can pretty much find/fund any school to suit your dcs. If you intend to rely on the state system, then you should do more research on which area to live which mn can help you with. But even with the best research in the world, the choice may still be the wrong one for your children once they are in it. If so, research alternatives at that point.

There are no absolutes.

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