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moving to UK June 2012-what grade for my kids?

(15 Posts)
sameyeam Wed 28-Sep-11 21:51:42

I have so many questions about the UK educational system that my head is spinning. Rather than putting them all down...I will just ask a few at a time so I can wrap my head around the information.

I think I pretty much understand the nightmare of catchments, oversubscribed schools and sink schools, and I think I even understand that indie schools are private. Then there are a lot of other state combinations...and then there is this battle of private v. public which is better, principle and judging. Yikes!

But what I really need help on is this:

My first daughter is born on December 27, 2006. What grade will she be in the fall of 2012. When applying to schools this year....right now for next fall 2012, I am not sure what 4+ means, will she be too old for that? Will she be in reception or y1?

My second daughter is born June 9, 2009. Can I apply for a nursery spot for her? Is that in the state schools or just the private ones that go 3-18? Can someone help me on this?

Lastly, my third girl is coming in 15 I really need to apply schools when she's in utero?

Man, I thought our educational system was a mess, but I must say, as excited as I am to move to your beautiful country, public, private, c of e and catchments have me in a tizzy.

Thanks for reading my first post


RueDeWakening Wed 28-Sep-11 21:57:25

Your DD1 is a few months older than mine, they would be in the same school year (which runs 1 Sept to 31 August, except in Scotland). So she'll be going into year 1 in September 2012.

You can apply for a nursery place for your DD2, she'd be entitled to 15 hours a week free preschool education from the term after her 3rd birthday (so from September 2012). You can take this provision at either a state school, a private school, or an independent preschool.

The best thing to do if you know the area you'll be moving to is probably to look at the local council's website, at the "starting school" information there, it should be helpful - particularly because the "starting nursery" info available now will be relevant to your DD2 and may list available local providers for you to consider.

Good luck with the move!

exexpat Wed 28-Sep-11 22:03:57

DD1 is four now, turning five in December? That means she would currently be in reception, so you would need a place in year 1 for September 2012.

But if you are looking at state schools, and applying for entry after reception year, you can't really apply now for September 2012 - they will only be able to tell you if a place is available around 6-8 weeks before the end of the summer term, ie May or June next year. You also need proof of your address in the UK before they will give you a place. Independent (private) schools would probably be much more accommodating about that.

For your younger daughters, you would most likely be looking at a private nursery or preschool. A few state primaries have a nursery year (age 3-4) but most don't. The usual choice is between a daycare-type setting (for babies to age 4 or 5, longer day, designed for working parents) or a preschool setting, which is often only morning or afternoon sessions for 2-4 year olds. You will almost certainly have to pay for this - UK parents get 15 free hours for 3-year-olds, but if you are coming from overseas you will probably not be entitled.

exexpat Wed 28-Sep-11 22:10:43

Just noticed the title of your post - if you are moving to the UK in June next year, that is the earliest you will be able to apply for a state school place, unless things have changed since I was in the that position a few years ago (moved back to the UK from overseas, with one school-age and one pre-school child, and couldn't get a school place until I had a signed rental contract). Though I suppose it is worth double-checking with the local authority in the area you are planning to move to.

sameyeam Wed 28-Sep-11 22:24:02

Ok, I think I got it...

My daughter is 4 and will be 5 in December.

So, if I go state, I need an address and depending on what catchment, I go to that local school and pray they have a spot...if they don't, I wait for the LA to give me spot, which may be great, or not, or may take 6 weeks and may be five miles away?! And they won't know if they have a space for Y1 Sept 2012 until summer term ends some time in July?

What if my older one went to a private/indie, then I would really apply now and hopefully they have a space for me, correct? But when they say "we have spaces in the 4+ and 7+...those are what, Reception and Y3, is that how that works? So, I need to find a school that admits every year, or has some spaces for year 1?

As for my little one (3 in June 2012), yeah, I agree, some private form of nursery is, that's probably what they mean by 3-18 on some of those private/indie schools?

My husband is a UK citizen, and we will be living around London for his work. I am a teacher here, and while I would love to work, I think the credential thing is a whole other issue.

If my kids go to public, because there just isn't a spot in the state schools, does that mean all my neighbors who go to state school aren't going to like me or my kids...or is it just that some people don't like private people and others don't like state people...

I guess I just want to know how ostracized I am (or my children) will get. I'm an easy going person, and really, just want safe, happy kids that have a school to call their own.

fortyplus Wed 28-Sep-11 23:01:19

Move to Berkhamsted and send your eldest to Westbrook Hay School Loads of lovely, ordinary people send their children there (and I speak as someone who doesn't agree with private schooling).

meditrina Wed 28-Sep-11 23:07:12

All private schools do things differently - it's part of their independence. They will have main entry points, and also occasional places (a lot, in eg London as families are always moving in and out of the capital). You'd need to enquire individually at each school you are interested in. The Good Schools Guide is a Good place to go for information to help you compile a short list.

exexpat Thu 29-Sep-11 00:12:07

Yes, your summary of what would happen if you try to get a place in a state school is roughly right.

Private schools most often have main intakes in reception, year 3 and year 7, but most of them will be happy to accept children in other years if they have spaces - some London private schools have long waiting lists, but the population is pretty mobile, so spaces do come up. You'll need to contact schools individually, and the good schools guide is a good place to start looking (they have a website, but I think you need to pay for a subscription to get the full info on each school).

I don't think you need to worry about being ostracised for using the private system unless you are planning to live in a very low-income area where your children might be the only ones not going to local schools. My children have both moved from the state sector to private schools in the last two or three years, and all my friends are still talking to me! I think even people who don't like private schools would accept that if you are moving from overseas you may not have much choice.

Some private schools cover the whole 3-18 age range, but most nurseries and preschools are much smaller and just cater for 0-5 or 3-5. You won't find information on them in the good schools guide, but the local authority website should have a list, or you can ask on MN in the local section.

sameyeam Thu 29-Sep-11 02:19:16

You ladies have been really helpful. I will take a look at the Good Schools Guide and see if I can get my kids into any school. I am worried about having to wait for a state place and I guess like most people, I will move between the state and private system until I understand education a more completely.

I know that we won't be there until end of July, tho' we might be able to rent earlier...but then there are those olympics going on too. Sigh. I think England is going to be a great place, but it will take a while to acclimate to all the differences.

I really appreciate this first part of advice. I am sure I will have more questions as time gets closer, or I pick schools and need some opinions.



mummytime Thu 29-Sep-11 07:42:40

Don't panic!  
Kids move into schools all the time.  Around London there is a lot of moveent, there are also fab HE networks.  Private schools cost a lot, and you have to give a terms notice of fees before you can move them (they can also be hard to get into).  
However in the UK you do not have to apply for the catchment school!  Actually there usually isn't a catchment school, just part of an admission criteria which places applicants in order of distance (usually after SEN, in care and siblings, but sometimes also religious criteria); this might be relevant if you are placed on a waiting list, or when it comes to your younger child applying to school.
Where do you want to live?  In London?  In the suburbs?  In a commuter town?

Do also realise (which has shocked US friends of mine) that religious education is a part of all schools, and Church schools are often state schools; also lots of schools even state primaries have school uniform.

meditrina Thu 29-Sep-11 07:47:42

Here's a link to the Good Schools Guide.

One think to bear in mind is that independent schools usually require a whole term's notice if parents are removing their child.  So for places to come free in Sept 2012, the parents would be giving notice no later than the Easter break - you'll probably get clearer answers after then in terms of availability.

Remember the notice period when you come to change to a state school.  You may well lose a term's fees (in lieu of notice), but that loss is counterbalanced by the longer term benefits.

CrystalChandelier Thu 29-Sep-11 08:31:28

If you opt for private schools, it's unlikely anyone will be openly hostile to you or your DCs - though you might encounter quiet disapproval in the form of a polite change of subject.

In my experience as a parent using both state and independent schools in London, even people who don't approve of the private system accept that individuals are making difficult decisions within a highly complex system. Most don't blame or attack individuals for what are often constrained decisions. I've never encountered a confrontation - though perhaps I've been lucky.

sameyeam Thu 29-Sep-11 18:09:06

Thanks, crystalchandelier, mummytime and meditrina...I appreciate that bit of info about private schools and telling a term ahead if one is leaving. I guess I will hear in the spring then...which is alright, because that's when we will come to look at houses.

Also, it's good, I guess that I don't have to apply to a catchment area.

Basically, I get an address, and then go to the local authority or the local school and they place me based on the criteria they have?

I will probably just apply to a couple of privates just in case we get placed really far away or a rough school. My first DD is a little, well, soft and sweet and cries at the thought of pain. Ok, wimpy...but sweet.

As for mummytime's comment about uniforms and religion....

Religion is not really a big deal, my kids are baptized Catholic, but that's about the extent of that.

As for uniforms...YEAH! Consumer driven US is just ridiculous. I teach 14 year olds and if you saw what they wear, and what they spend on that ladies would just faint. I would be happy to shell out a small fortune on the same dress, slacks and sweaters so I don't have to keep up with the latest styles.

Did I mention, I am due with my 3rd DD in 2 weeks. If I wind up spending $$$ (sorry don't have the pound key) on private school, at least I will save on a new outfit everyday which is essential in affluent areas of NY.

Are people really serious when they put admissions apps in for their newborns to get into schools?

I'm just trying to remember how many times a day I have to bf, let alone think of apps for DD3.

My husband wants to live in SW London. I would prefer probably more suburbs...Surrey, Kent...but he needs to be close to transport to get to France and Switzerland very often.

So, if I have a little piece of green to raise some tomatoes, maybe put my beehive...I would be really happy.

Thanks again, all.


mummytime Thu 29-Sep-11 21:13:14

I would get him t look at towns like Guildford, close to Gatwick and Heathrow (about 1 hour to London). Or Ashford way in Kent for Eurostar, an Gatwick.
Suburbs can take longer to get into London.

Haberdashery Fri 30-Sep-11 12:42:32

SW London is really nice, you know! There are lots of green spaces and depending on your budget you would probably be able to get a reasonable sized garden, certainly enough for tomatoes - not sure how much space bees need!!

I live in Richmond which is SW London/Surrey and it is a good option for people with young children, finances permitting (property is expensive), as the local state primary schools are all good. There simply isn't a really bad one available. There is also a wide choice of private schools nearby.

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