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Switching to international school

(24 Posts)
pombal Mon 26-Dec-16 08:21:20

DD (6) is currently in local school in Portugal in the first year.
It's going well, no problems and her Portuguese is really coming on.

For various reasons we would like her to go to international school in the future and finish school with U.K. qualifications.
My plan at the moment is to make the switch to international at 10/11 years old so Y6/Y7.

If anyone else has done this can you tell me how did it go??
Obviously DD speaks English fluently but would need to catch up with written English - would that be a problem??

danTDM Mon 26-Dec-16 08:34:39

Does DD's school not do the International Bac? Most good schools offer this in the UK and good foreign schools do this too. I have lots of experience of 'International schools', the teaching, well , the teachers not necessarily have to be qualified and the standard is low (in my opinion). DD would get a much better education sticking to the local portugese school.

I have ordered the relevant key stage books from the UK and am teaching DD myself. It is fairly straightforward. I make sure she reads books like David Walliams, Jaq Wilson etc (that she likes) every night too.

Bobochic Mon 26-Dec-16 08:36:28

You would do best to keep your DD moving forward with written English in parallel with her Portuguese schooling.

danTDM Mon 26-Dec-16 08:37:37

PS Had exactly the same thoughts as you 2 year ago when DD was 6! We're in Spain. But, I have investigated uni entrance etc fully and the teaching has really ramped up the last couple of years. I think it's better than the UK.

pombal Mon 26-Dec-16 08:40:09

International baccalaureate is only offered in International schools not the local Portuguese schools.
I agree with what you are saying about international school and general quality of teaching, it's just the Portuguese education system is like the French system - chalk and talk, very rigid, no critical thinking.

I think local school is ok for primary but wouldn't risk it for secondary. Am worried about the transition.

danTDM Mon 26-Dec-16 08:44:17

Ah, I see. IB is encouraged in Spain. Yes, it is rigid here too. I quite like it! Times tables all learned already. Higher standard of grammar etc. Language etc.

If you decide to move I would think you are choosing the ideal age. I think you may find she is ahead in may things though.

pombal Mon 26-Dec-16 08:45:23

The ideal would be to keep up the English at home but there just doesn't seem to be time.
DD gets home at 5pm then typically has portuguese homework to do.

Am planning to get her a tutor in the summer holidays ( all 12 weeks of them!!!) twice a week to do some literacy in English.

pombal Mon 26-Dec-16 08:49:22

Yes danTDM, it's like that here too - in maths by 10 they are way ahead of U.K.
The schools are very demanding but at 16+ somehow the children don't achieve.
I don't know what goes wrong.

danTDM Mon 26-Dec-16 08:54:11

Yes, I find the same. They get loads of homework and only home at 5. I agree it's a bit tricky. I do English at the weekend. One hour on Sat, one on Sun. Yes, also 12/14 weeks holiday I do an intensive English thing with her.
If you order the Key Stage books on Amazon it's great. I have 1 in literacy, 1 in grammar, I in spelling. We're working our way through them this year. Cost me 60 Euro, got them on Amazon. It's the UK national curriculum. Letts edition.

For example, me and DD are doing very simple Shakespeare atm and at school in her 'English lesson' I have arranged with the school, that she works solo, through the spelling and am confident that she is up to date. I've tested her! She's a good girl and takes it seriously though! At 6 she wouldn't have been ready for this yet.

Moaningmyrtille Mon 26-Dec-16 08:54:32

I've done similar but in France. I think y6 is the perfect time to move over. We spent a lot of time doing English writing at home, so my DS is fine with that but there are other 'english' kids in his year who have only ever written in french and they go to EAL to catch up.

pombal Mon 26-Dec-16 09:12:41

Thank you this is all good advice.

Moaningmyrtille can I ask did your DC keep up their French?

WhiskyAndTwiglets Mon 26-Dec-16 09:16:29

I'd move in year 6. It's the perfect age to move and gives a year of primary before secondary.
Research your international school though.
Some are truly excellent but some aren't.

InTheDessert Mon 26-Dec-16 10:40:31

Can you talk to the schools are thinking of to see if they do take kids at that point who have been through the local primary school?

Bit different, but I know lots of kids who fail the entrance assesment for the British school (in the Middle East) not because they are stupid, but because they havnt yet been taught what the British school expects, and since they can fill the classes with kids who don't need catch up, they reject them. So for us, primary assessment expect maths and English to be right for the year group. The rest they aren't to bothered with.
One big difference with the maths is word problems. So local system drills straight maths sums, and then the British school throws "I have 4 apples, Joe has 3 pears, how many pieces of fruit are there?". Kids who can do 57+84 fail at this point.

pombal Mon 26-Dec-16 11:18:57

The international schools near us are non selective and take children from around the world at any stage.
There's no entrance assessments but they do make children repeat the year if it's felt necessary.

lifeisunjust Mon 26-Dec-16 13:19:06

Uk qualifications are not necessary for entering uk universities I know many students who are mother tongue English but schooled in local languages who ve then gone to study in the uk.

Social media is very powerful at teaching English native children to read and write in English when schooled in another language.

Schooldaemon Wed 28-Dec-16 23:18:10

Nc as this will out me.

I did exactly this, but to a local British school as the International School in our town had ever lowering standards and accepted pupils with no English well into Y9 stage. This meant that the overall standards worsened for all pupils as the extra language support for the non English speakers was pretty non-existent. I reasoned that if I was going to spend the money I'd want my DC to get a decent education so I plumped for the British school with its entrance exam.

We'd done all of primary in the local state system as it is well regarded. Also I didn't have the funds for 3-18 so opted for the secondary years as more important (also the quality of local schooling goes downhill in 1st stage secondary).

DC's spoken English was Ok, but I really needed to work on her written English as the expected level was quite high. She did the entrance exam, passed the maths but barely scraped the English, but she got in on the proviso that she improved her written English and she was tested again at the beginning of the year. What helped was ramping up the reading in English, but it wasn't until the holidays after her final year of primary that I was able to make the switch from local language to English reading and doing grammar exercises. Luckily local schools do tons of grammar at primary so the concepts were already in place.

A year on I'm really happy with our choice, as is DC. There were other issues with local schooling that helped precipitate the decision to move systems and it was a gamble, but seeing her enthusiastic and thriving has made it all worthwhile.

I didn't specifically choose British schooling to get her into UK unis, and with Brexit on the cards we'll probably stay on the continent for university, but with the IB and the breadth of subjects studied she'll be able to get into pretty much anywhere.

pombal Thu 29-Dec-16 09:27:03

Many thanks for the replies.

So it seems like moving DD is feasible in Y6 but I can't just plonk her in English and it will be enough that she speaks English.

The other question I have is if we make the move to an English speaking school in Y6, will she retain her spoken Portuguese??

Any advice appreciated.

Bobochic Thu 29-Dec-16 10:58:18

She'll retain her Portuguese if she continues to have a meaningful life (activities, friends) in Portuguese. It would be strange if your local international school did not teach Portuguese - she'll probably be in its bilingual level class.

pombal Thu 29-Dec-16 11:13:09

Yes Bobochic the international school does teach Portuguese and has different groups for different levels and the DC do after school activities in Portuguese.

I've seen so many ex pat children over the years that go through the international school and don't even have GCSE level Portuguese.

Schooldaemon Thu 29-Dec-16 11:40:53

There is a local language stream for native speakers and they do the local state exams at 14. However what does worry me a bit is that the higher level essay writing etc post 14 will all be in English, so DC might not attain the levels of written expression of her peers in local lycée in her native tongue. I think that's a minor concern, however, and easily recuperated should the need arise.

pombal Thu 29-Dec-16 14:23:26

Schooldaemon you are right and I realise that secondary in English means that the DC won't be completely bilingual or able to go to Uni here.
But if they stay in local school the chances are they won't go to Uni full stop.
There is no perfect solution but I'm aiming for a good education and good spoken Portuguese.

Schooldaemon Thu 29-Dec-16 17:23:39

Local uni is distinctly a possibility nonetheless. To me the difference in language attainment would be akin to having less of a breadth of expression when writing a novel or an in depth philosophical argument, but it is entirely doable, plus I think with a good base there is scope for improvement if they stay in country. However we're a dual language family and up to the switch English was the minority language, so the local language will always be a part of our lives.

Bobochic Fri 30-Dec-16 07:41:49

It isn't necessary to do secondary education in the language in which you intend to do higher education. The real barrier is meeting the educational requirements of the HE system you wish to enter. These vary wildly from country to country.

fussychica Tue 03-Jan-17 06:58:04

Following a move to Spain at 10 DS went to a Spanish state secondary school and all his qualifications are Spanish (ESO and Bachillerato). However, just to be on the safe side and to show his English was at a sufficiently high level he did IGCSE English. We found a local expat teacher to teach him. It worked out perfectly and he gained an A*. I liked the broad Spanish curriculum and he was keen to stay at his local school and continue to improve his Spanish. He wasnt interested in going to university in Spain and returned to the UK to do a degree in Spanish, French and German. He then did a post grad at Oxford and is currently a MFL teacher.
He never experienced any issues Re entrance to uni because he didn't have A levels, they all accepted a particular mark at Bachillerato as the equivalent when making their offers. I accept that it may have been easier because he was doing a language degree but many fellow students who weren't also had overseas qualifications, which were also accepted. However, I do think having the IGCE in English showed he would be totally capable of operating at a sufficiently high level to complete essays etc

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