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Moving to London - Need Help Choosing Schools!

(12 Posts)
user1484688427 Tue 17-Jan-17 22:36:04

Hello!

We are in the process of moving to London from the San Francisco area, which move will likely take place in the next couple of months. I am having difficulty choosing the right school for our 4 1/2 year old.

Here is the deal: Our son is all boy. He has not been diagnosed with ADHD, any learning disabilities, etc. (he has been assessed), but he is sensory seeking and we have opted to have him in private occupational therapy to help him with sensory-seeking behaviors. He is a smart; I am not concerned with academic success, and he will be fine in a mainstream class (he has not had issues in so far in 2 1/2 years of preschool). By providing him this extra OT help it seems we have created problems.

We are looking for an international school that will prepare him academically, but equally importantly, instill in him a love of learning, empathy, and the importance of being a good, responsible member of society.

Here are our requirements:
-We prefer to live in London or Hampstead
-We will be in the UK for a min of 2 years
-We are interested in more than the American expat community
-We are looking for a private institution, no strong preference for IB curriculum, but would be nice
-We would strongly prefer a non-religious environment

We have looked at the following schools:
-International Community School (ICS)
-Southbank: We were rejected with the explanation that they don't have resources to effectively support our son's needs
-ASL: We have applied but are not optimistic; we have been told that with the challenges he has he is not a good candidate ("wiggly"=problem child)

We are also considering:
-ACS Hillingdon, but I have concerns about the location.

Does anyone have experience with:
-Abercorn
-North Bridge House or
-International School London (ISL)

Any insight or ideas would be welcome!

Out2pasture Wed 18-Jan-17 00:55:55

have you researched Hill House? it may be the right fit for you and your son. it's an independent (private school), takes children without having to be on a wait list, very international, central location?

horsemadmom Wed 18-Jan-17 08:13:23

IB curriculum doesn't start in the UK until age 16 with only a handful who do middle years. This won't be an issue for you.
I'm afraid you may have queered your pitch with some of those schools unnecessarily . It is a very American educational disease to pathologist small children (boys especially). We do not 'red shirt' here. You will not find Ritalin addled children stuck in for-profit schools.Nobody will know or care what sensory-seeking behaviour is. I suspect, your laundry list of 'issues' may have been a reason for those schools to reject you as parents.
All 4 1/2 yr old boys are wriggly! None of them can or should sit still for long stretches. Unless your son has developmental delay, is violent or has physical impairments requiring more adaptations than the school can handle, he's perfectly normal and he'll get a place where there's space.
I'm so vociferous about this because you sound a lot like my American cousins. Their 4 year old boy didn't like carpet time and wasn't interested in listening to stories when there were dinosaurs and toy trucks that were more fun. They took him to an 'educational consultant' to 'diagnose' him. She found a laundry list of 'issues' (I read the report and it was shoddy and so far out of best practice guidelines as to be meaningless). But, glory be and hallelujah, this 'educational consultant' was part owner of a school that for $30,000 a year could fix this little boy who didn't like carpet time.
You will find the UK a whole different world.

Oriunda Wed 18-Jan-17 08:21:27

Can only agree with horsemadmum. What does 'Sensory seeking behaviour' actually mean? My son is nearly 5, in reception and is only just sitting quietly during carpet time and that's because he'd been at the school pre-school so knew what to do.

caffelatte100 Wed 18-Jan-17 08:22:52

There is a special company that helps with schooling and areas. My friends used them for an overseas move and they were delighted with them and the end result. I don't know what it cost, but it might be worth it for you....

lunchboxtroubles Wed 18-Jan-17 10:15:54

amen to what horsemadmum said

my daughter had similar issues with fidgeting and we were advised to go to an assessment that would lead to thousands of pounds worth of dubious therapy. A couple of years later and she's pretty much grown out of it.

unfortunateevents Wed 18-Jan-17 10:53:40

Surely all four year olds are "sensory seeking"? I suspect if you hadn't presented this list of issues to the schools mentioned, he would have been admitted, they wouldn't even have noticed anything and would have been perfectly capable of supporting and managing his "wiggly" behaviour.

Stilitzvert Wed 18-Jan-17 12:32:12

I'd contact all the prep schools in hampstead, of which there are plenty and make sure they go up to 11 or 13, if you're only in london a few years then you really don't want to be getting caught up in the 7+ hoo-ha. If he's just wriggly, I wouldn't even go into details with them, he sounds like a 4 year old who likes to move about so look for somewhere not too formal in reception and take it from there. Unless there's something you're not telling us his behaviour doesn't sound out of the ordinary for a 4.5 year old boy.

user1484688427 Wed 18-Jan-17 21:14:31

Thank you very much to all of you for your responses!!

I have looked into Hill House and that sounds like it would be a very good option. I'll also start calling Hampstead prep schools.

Yes, this wiggly behavior is very, very typical for 4 year olds, and my son is no exception. And no, I don't think anyone would have even noticed if I hadn't provided the info that I did. While at his age now he is better at sitting for circle time, sitting still for extended periods is a hard sell when trucks and dinosaurs are so much more interesting. Yes, compliance is important, but I also think that child-like behavior is part of what being a young child (especially a boy) is about. With any luck we'll find a school that will be a good fit.

And horsemadmom: the story of your cousin is very similar to our own. It is so refreshing to hear that I can look forward to a new perspective on that in the UK. Thank you for that!

Parietal Wed 18-Jan-17 21:23:12

look at king alfred school.

also subscribe to the Good Schools Guide website, read it carefully & phone the schools that seem nice to discuss.

Usernamealreadyexists Wed 18-Jan-17 22:50:57

I'm struggling to think you would have gone to extremes of getting such a young child OT and ADHD assessment unless his sensory seeking behaviours were more than a typical 3/4 year old. IF it is the case that there are some some issues, I'd think very carefully whether a private school in Hampstead is really the best thing for him as they aren't geared up to support kids with difficulties beyond the norm.

horsemadmom Thu 19-Jan-17 00:20:48

That's the point. OP's DS sounds perfectly normal. The American education system has pathologised perfectly normal little boy behaviour and a whole industry has sprung up to bilk parents out of money to 'fix' what is developmentally appropriate behaviour.
OP gave the schools she spoke to a laundry list of what she has been told are her son's issues. The schools will have decided she's a PITA and turned her down. If she phones and says ' I have a lovely, boisterous little boy', they'll have no problem.

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