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Advice please – moving back to UK in March 2014. DC1 turns 5 in Jan and wouldn’t start school until then where we live now.

(14 Posts)
GrandstandingBlueTit Tue 20-Aug-13 04:07:52

Just wondered if someone might be able to provide me with a lightbulb moment. This is a bit convoluted, so I appreciate anyone who?s able to make sense of it.

We?re currently down in the Antipodes. A move back to the UK in c. March 2014 is looking quite likely, but I really don?t know how best to handle DS starting school.

He is 4.5. He turns 5 at the end of January, and if we were staying here, he?d start school at the beginning of the academic year, i.e. Term 1 2014, which is early February. Children start school here when they turn 5, i.e. on (or the day after) their birthday; not the first term of the year after they turn 5.

However, if we move back to the UK, I?m worried about the impact on his schooling. If we were in the UK, he?d be starting school next month.

How disadvantaged would he be, if he did 1-2 months? schooling here, before the move? The other children in his class will have a good 3-4 months jump on him, but am I worrying too much about the skills they acquire in these very early months in reception?

What do I need to consider? We have no idea of exactly where we would live when we come back. We were living in Zone 5, North London, but aren?t particularly wed to that now. We also don?t have the luxury of staying with family for a while, house-hunting and then moving ? again, because of the disruption this would cause to DS?s schooling. We don?t want to move and move again. Unless there is no other option, of course.

I can?t see the wood for the trees in trying to figure this out! I would be so grateful if anyone has any amazing insights. I have posted in a couple of other places as well, in the hope of getting some useful feedback. smile

Galena Tue 20-Aug-13 07:28:06

I wouldn't have thought a few months missed from reception is going to make a huge difference, personally. Some parents defer their child's start for 1 or 2 terms anyway... Reception is mainly play based.

mam29 Tue 20-Aug-13 08:09:55

I wouldent worry most countries dont start school until 7 and they catch up.

Reception in uk is play based learning through play just extension of nursery.aprt from phonics and simple books all play and crafts.

Have no idea what schools like where you are now but might be nice expereince to try.

Then maybe home educate in uk until place comes up or you settled so you not forver moving him.

you could cover stuff at home now if worried about him being behind.

This covers all of reception maths all 41skills he may know some already

maybe get couple jolly phonics books.
make sure he knows letters.

do excercise, crafts and play.

thats basically reception.

also cover skills like getting dressed, looking after himself .

I wouldent worry exposure to foreign country be much more exiting memory than reception year here.

aufaniae Tue 20-Aug-13 08:11:14

I doubt he would miss out, and if you're worried you could help support him by doing some home schooling. Most reception classes will be focussing on learning through play and asking for reading at home at that age.

My bigger concern in your shoes would be getting him into a school you like. There is huge pressure on primary school places, big differences between schools and most of the decent schools will be full, with waiting lists. You need to be prepared that if you want him to go to a decent school with an ethos that suits your values and parenting, you may need to wait some time for a place to become available, and so, there is a possibility that he will either need to go to a school you're not keen on or be homeschooled in the meantime.

Assuming you are using the state school system, IIRC waiting lists are done on the basis of distance to the school, not on length of time on the list. If you can't visit the school before moving over, in your shoes I would consider living with family and sending him to the local school while you do your research and actually visit schools. Then move as near as possible to a school you like, if the local one doesn't turn out to be great.

Worth bearing in mind that the ethos of a school may not suit you even if it seems great on paper.

FWIW when we moved, I expected DS would go to the local school as it was rated Outstanding by OFSTED, and friends of ours sent their DS there and rated it. Sounded great to me and it was summer holidays so I couldn't look at the school before buying the house. When I finally got a chance to visit I absolutely hated the school. The ethos was totally at odds with our values. It was too formal and prescriptive, too religious, not at all creative, no emphasis on learning through play in reception (despite this being the official guidance to all schools). Even DS asked "mummy where was the painting?". Luckily for us there's another school down the road which is wonderful IMO, and has a totally different ethos. On paper we couldn't see this; visiting a school tells you so much.

Did you know for example that all state schools are required by law to provide an act of worship that is broadly Christian in nature? However, in practice how they do this varies widely, with many finding ways to basically provide an atheist school life. (One school we visited said they did hymns and prayers in assembly and said grace at lunch. The other said they discussed moral concepts with the children in assembly they would sometimes ask the children to have quiet time and thing about wonder and awe. Very different approaches!) Just using this as an example as it was important to us. In general you can get a much better idea of what a school's attitude to any issue is by visiting and asking directly.

Your alternative is to go by paper, do your research thoroughly - read OFSTED, google and definitely ask mumsnet for the inside story! Bound to be someone here who know each school in the country, at least by reputation. Then choose a school you like and move as near as you like to it and hope for the best!

You should speak to the school, both to get an idea of whether a place might be available, and also as soon as you know what your actual address will be some may put you on the list even though you've not yet moved in. Actually, talking to them by phone may help you get an idea of the ethos of the school, I'm sure mumsnet could help you with good questions to ask.

Sorry for the essay I hope it's helpful!

aufaniae Tue 20-Aug-13 08:13:11

In short, I would be more concerned about ultimately getting him into a good school, than I would about him missing anything. A good school will help him catch up and flourish. He will be there for many years to come after all.

nextphase Tue 20-Aug-13 08:20:45

There may well be other (slightly younger) kids starting reception later in the year.
The rules state that you need to start the term after you turn five. Since they are all 4 the day they start school, presumably this means if everyone defered, Reception would be empty? Summer babies can go straight into year 1, and not do reception at all.

I'm sure he'll be fine!

aufaniae Tue 20-Aug-13 08:24:39

"Summer babies can go straight into year 1, and not do reception at all."

Are you talking about England and Wales? (The Scottish system is different) I've never heard of that.

chattychattyboomba Tue 20-Aug-13 08:42:59

Why don't you put him into nursery? I know many Montessori nurseries go up to 6 years (I think?) and as far as I am aware doesn't matter what time of year you put him in? They will do some sort if structured curriculum?

GrandstandingBlueTit Tue 20-Aug-13 09:12:55

Thanks all - I'm so glad I posted. You've all been brilliant. smile

aufaniae - thanks for your 'essay'(!) - it's invaluable.

We're potentially moving back for my job (I can't further my career here in my home country and gave up a career I loved; I have been offered a job back in London).

Funnily enough, I am currently working in an entirely new industry (for me) right now, as an Advisor at our Ministry of Eduation on the Literacy and Numeracy Taskforce. We're responsible for managing a lot of the National Standards data, so I understand better than most how important it is to actually speak with schools, principals, teachers, etc, and get an actual understanding of all that the schools do for their community. How well they perform on paper is just one sliver of the entire story.

He is at Kindy at the moment, and loves that. It is very play-based. He has traditionally been a 'sandpit kid'; always outside, with no interest in drawing, painting and writing. However, I can see that that is starting to change. He is starting to get interested in letters and has much better control over his pen, drawing and doodling, etc. I guess we need to nurture that in the interim.

Thanks again, I can't tell you how helpful this has been to 'talk me down from the edge', so to speak. You've all really helped me get sme perspective and see it all a bit more pragmatically. Basing things on choosing the right school (for him) is such good advice.

Any other thoughts are more than welcome. smile

aufaniae Tue 20-Aug-13 09:38:53

Glad it's useful smile We just moved at the same time as we needed to apply for schools for DS so it's all fairly fresh in my mind!

Have you started having a look at houses at all? If so, my tip would be to use as you can click to see schools near a house on their map, then click through to find out more about the school, including their OFSTED.

TheContrastOfWhiteOnWhite Tue 20-Aug-13 09:43:34

I would agree with what others have said, I don't think that starting reception 'late' will be a problem.

I think that the bigger issues are:

1. Finding a school you like with a mid-year place. You've had some great advice on that.

2. The potential disruption of starting a school for a couple of months, moving and maybe going to a school you aren't struck on for a few months before a place finally comes up on a waiting list for a school you do like. That sounds pretty likely if you are going back to London and using the state sector. The issue you will have is that, because he will be 5, he will have to start school (or be home schooled) almost immediately when you arrive. If he had been 4 there is no legal obligation to have schooling and you have more options. In your shoes, I think I would investigate whether he has to start school where you are now, or whether you can follow another option like deferring, home schooling or bringing your move forward. If that isn't an option, I'd really move heaven and earth to make sure that he can go straight into his 'permanent' UK school. Two schools is quite a bit to cope with in a couple of months, three would be really difficult I think.

Good luck with the big move.

meditrina Tue 20-Aug-13 09:57:01

If he's going to a good kindy, what he will be doing is so similar to Reception (play-based - look up EYFS for 'official' curriculum) that you really need not worry about it.

You biggest snag is that you cannot apply for a UK state school without a UK address (unless you are returning Forces or other Govt service). So your best bet might be to move to an area where there are a number of schools at you like, or at least don't mind) and cross your fingers he gets one of them.

nextphase Tue 20-Aug-13 12:02:27

Aufaniae it is certanily the case in England. See here for example - although it does say by exception April-Aug babaies can delay to start of year 1. I would think that (as the mother of a baby in that range) delaying to Y1 would introduce its own set of problems about expectations in school, rathign than having some time as play based to get used to the structure.

I think scotland has a different system for delaying start of school for kids born in the scend half of the year (but not sure when those dates are)

TheContrastOfWhiteOnWhite Tue 20-Aug-13 12:06:33

Agree nextphase - the law says that kids don't have to be in schooling until the term after they turn 5. So if you have a summer child you can decide not to send them. The problem is that, unlike Scotland, they don't get to start in reception (P1 in Scotland), they have to stay in their 'correct' year group, and so would go straight into year one once they reach mandatory school age.

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