Secondary/6th Form schools in areas around Bristol.(9 Posts)
I am brand new here, so thank you in advance for you patience. My family and I are considering a move to Bristol. We currently live just outside Los Angeles, and have decided to move to England. My husband is English, but hasn't lived there since he was 13. His father lives in Cambridge, but we want something a bit different. Our first priority is schools, of course. Our children will be 16 and 13 when school starts in September 2014. We plan to move in the summer of 2014, but planning takes a while! We will rent a home.
My husband works in film and television, so commuting isn't really an issue. Filming locations can be anywhere really, but a base near Bristol was suggested if we weren't going to live in London. My point being that we don't need to be right in Bristol. The schools will take priority.
Our daughter will turn 16 in September, and we don't know if she will enter 6th form or will need take a year for her GCSEs, of which there is no equivalent here in the US. She is an exceptional student. Our son will be 13. He is quiet and shy and I don't want him to get lost in a big state school, or be bullied which seems a concern in the threads I have read.
What do you suggest?
If you are looking at State schools ( non fee paying) then I would look outside of Bristol itself as schools are not universally good in the city and popular ones are often very over subscribed.
My first suggestion would be Katharine Lady Berkeley school in Wotton Under Edge which is about 15 miles north of Bristol. It's catchment is a market town and surrounding villages, it is smaller than a lot of state schools but gets excellent results, particularly at A level. I know several families with children there, all of whom are very happy.
Others worth a look are Castle in Thornbury, Winterbourne International Academy in Winterbourne, Wellsway in Keynsham and Backwell school, all of which are in areas surrounding Bristol. In Bristol itself, Cotham school and Redland Green are the schools of choice.
I've been thinking about your daughter's position with regards to her age when you move. I think you will need to take advice as to whether she would be accepted into a 6th form without any formal qualifications. She may well be fine based on a reference from her current school, but I wouldn't know for sure. The state system is quite rigid over here with regards to being in your correct year group as funding technically ends for each pupil the august after they are 18. You will find more flexibility in the private sector if that is an option?
Do you have an international school near you in America? Maybe you could investigate the possibility of her studying some IGCSE's over the next year? Or maybe distance learning, particularly if she is bright this wouldn't be too hard for her.
I would post on the secondary education board on the main site - there are some very knowledgeable people on there who may be able to help with regards to your daughter's position.
If your daughter turns 16 on or after September 1st 2014, that means she will still be in year 11, not the 6th form. And I am afraid that is about the worst possible time to try to join the British educational system, as year 11 is when they take GCSE exams, which are all based on two-year courses. If she only arrives in the September of year 11, she will not have time to cover the GCSE curriculum in anything.
Schools are usually very, very reluctant to take on new pupils at that point, even if they are moving within the UK, as GCSE syllabuses vary between exam boards and of course teachers may cover parts of the curriculum in different orders, so switching schools at that stage means pupils are likely to miss essential parts. I don't know quite what a school would do with her if she arrived in year 11, and even if she is very bright and academically advanced, state schools are extremely rigid about being in correct year groups, and would be extremely unlikely to let her go into the 6th form a year early. Private schools are sometimes more flexible (I was moved up a year at mine, many years ago) but they would need very convincing evidence that she was working well ahead of her age group and could cope with A-level courses on top of the international move.
It would probably be much easier to move a year later when she could go straight into the 6th form - it may require some negotiation with the school if she doesn't have any British qualifications, but depending on the subjects she wants to study, it should be possible to go straight into the A-level course. Or it might be even better if you could find a school offering the International Baccalaureate as a broader alternative to A-levels. Not many state schools offer it, but one near Bristol does - Winterbourne International Academy - which might be worth looking at.
I think the advice of trying the secondary education topic on the main board is a good idea - there may be more people around who can advise on the general issues of trying to move at that stage.
There are a few threads about moving to UK from US on the secondary education already which the OP may find useful.
Your older child would be in Y11 in September 2014 and this may cause problems. You could move her a year early in September 2013 and opt for a fee-paying boarding school so that she could do the full range of GCSEs in 2 years. Suitable boarding schools would be Clifton College (co-ed) or Badminton school (girls only). This would be an expensive option, but could be less stressful than moving in 2014. She could then be a day-girl after you have moved. Most UK students do approx 10 GCSEs.
If you move in September 2014 the best option may be for your daughter to sign up for one year GCSE courses at a local college e.g. City of Bristol college in the city centre offer this. There may be fees involved but probably less than private schooling. This may mean that the number of GCSEs your daughter takes is more limited. The requirement for sixth form is usually 5 GCSEs and children apply during Y11 for entry the following September.
St Brendan's sixth form college in Brislington offers the IB qualification (they also work with St Bedes catholic secondary school sixth form pupils as well). Hayesfield comprehensive school (girls) in Bath also offers the IB to sixth form students. Redmaids girls school (independent) also offers the IB alongside A levels.
Will post separately with further options for your younger child.
Is it possible for my daughter to be accepted to an IB course without GCSEs?
I would guess you'd need to check with the specific school you were considering, but as the IB is an international qualification, and all countries have different systems, I can't see that GCSEs would be an essential pre-qualification. Maybe try emailing one or two of the schools mentioned (eg Winterbourne) to ask how it would work in your situation?
The IB is completed in many countries around the world so you do not have to have GCSEs. See the link to the IB website for more details IB details.
The key thing you would need to demonstrate is that your daughter has already has a qualification equivalent to GCSEs e.g. iGCSE or international O level are the ones that I know about (there will be others) or has already studied and completed the middle years programme of the IB which is offered by some schools in the US.
If any of these qualifications are an option for your daughter now then it may be a good idea for her to study these now in the US to transfer over to the UK.
If your daughter wanted to return to the US for degree level, the IB qualification would also help with this.
Other than that, I would say that the best bet would be to telephone individual sixth forms and colleges and schools to obtain more information.
I wouldn't go with Winterbourne Academy personally. It is so large individuals get lost and transferring from the US and a different academic might mean not enough support for them.
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