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Moving to London from Brazil - advice on schools, in-year admission

(14 Posts)
mariab1976 Thu 13-Apr-17 03:40:43


I am a Brazilian researcher moving to London in August with my husband and two kids (one is 5 - turns 6 at the end of July - and the other has just turned 9) and am trying to figure out what would be the best course of action for us regarding schools and finding a place to live.

We will only be in London for a year. The reason we are moving is because I am spending a year as visiting researcher at Kings College London. We will be living on my scholarship + a bit of savings, so we definitely cannot afford private schools.

From what I understand, because we've already missed the January deadline (I have only just found out I have been accepted for the programme) we are going to have to accept whatever the Local Authority offers us, as the best schools will be full. On the other hand, I understand I cannot apply to more than one Local Authority and then decide to move based on offers, as they will only consider applications with proof of address, right?

So what I am wondering is in which neighborhoods will they be most likely to be placed in a good school, i.e. which neighborhoods have the highest proportion of good schools or have some good schools that are not oversubscribed? Of course, how easy it is to commute to KCL is a factor, but the school factor is a much more important one to us, so we are considering anywhere really (I've lived in Highbury many years ago and love North London, but am very willing to discover new neighborhoods).

Also, do you think the ofsted reports are a good measure of how good a school really is? My kids attend a rather "alternative" school in Brazil and are good students, but their English is very, very limited (we are going to make them attend English classes from now on, but still they will certainly not be fluent by the time we arrive), so I guess a good school for me is not necessarily one that places students in better schools later on, but one where they will be welcomed and their special needs as non-English speakers will be considered. I am really not worried about them absorbing much academic content, but rather concerned about their ability to socialize and enjoy their experience.

Thank you very much. Any tips will be very, very appreciated!

Saracen Thu 13-Apr-17 06:57:50

I can't advise on schools, but just want to suggest an alternative. Since your family is only going to be in the country for a year then perhaps your husband and kids would get more out of their time here if they don't go to school but instead get out more, making the most of this opportunity to explore London's many excellent museums and historic sites. There are plenty of cheap and free things to do.

Home education is increasing in popularity and you can find other families to play with and group educational activities via home education networks. It tends to be quite a welcoming community, so that could provide an easy way for them to land on their feet socially.

There are no required subjects and your dh can educate the children any way he sees fit, maybe by continuing with the curriculum to which they'll return in Brazil next year or by branching out to learn totally different things. They could start out with home education and then request a school place if they aren't enjoying it. Or on the other hand they could do school for a while, and then deregister from school and home educate in order to free up more time to see the country during their final months here.

Just a thought!

RicStar Thu 13-Apr-17 07:09:54

I would look at Tulse Hill / West Norwood. Diverse areas - lots of schools some under subscribed but ok. At least it is very likely you will get school places not miles away. commute to kcl - one express bus (x68). Much cheaper rent than North London but very easy to get into town and explore.

RitzyMcFee Thu 13-Apr-17 07:16:29

As your youngest is six at the end of July, you will be looking for a year one place rather than a reception place.

When I moved to the uk, I had to phone the individual schools to see if they have a place, then apply though the LEA with an in year admissions form. London is more transient than a lot of other areas so there might be a bit of movement.

They are only going to be there for a year so I wouldn't worry too much. I'd be happy enough if they just learnt English fluently during that year I feel I were you.

DoorwayToNorway Thu 13-Apr-17 11:30:36

I have no advice about schools. I think, as long as you don't move somewhere that's really deprived and the fact that your children will only be in school for a year means they will be fine in any school. If you're very worried about the language you could try Clapham, Stockwell and Brixton. They'll surely be at least one Portuguese speaking child in their year and staff that can speak Portuguese. Great access to Kings as well and considerably cheaper than North London.
My children moved to Brazil at 7 and 9 years old. They didn't speak any Portuguese. They were fine within months. There was no additional language support as we live in a very small town.
I will say though that you will have one hurdle when you return to Brazil. English schools have no formal testing. The year they are out could cause a problem on their academic record. The way to overcome this is to have them take level in tests when they return to Brazil. It took a while for my children's diretora to find out this information as an alternative system. So thought I'd give you a heads up.
Although my children lost one academic year due to the differences in systems. School years in the UK don't start in January, they start in September. So my oldest for example was in Year 6 in the UK (5° Ano). He started in September, we moved to Brazil in November where they had one month left in 5° Ano and then he was moved straight into Fundamental 2. So he missed out almost all of his final year in Primary/F1.
If you are coming in August it's perfect because you can secure a place for the very start of the school year in September. At most they will only miss a couple of weeks. Also Reception places are difficult but they're usually spaces in the years further up the schools as children leave for various reasons. Good luck.

DoorwayToNorway Thu 13-Apr-17 11:34:19

Also the January deadline is usually only for Reception. For other years you have to apply directly to the schools. If they have a space you can usually have it. Also the areas I mentioned have very good schools, I have worked in a lot of them and know people whose children attend them so I speak from experience.

LIZS Thu 13-Apr-17 11:38:06

January deadline is irrelevant to In Year applications. You may not be fortunate enough to get 2 places at the same school, or even close by, so you may need to think about how to cope with that. Until you have a confirmed address the boroughs cannot consider your application, so prioritise that and I suspect economics may dictate where you can rent.

siedward Thu 13-Apr-17 15:30:49

I would echo the advice about going South - Stockwell, Vauxhall, Brixton or Clapham have numbers of Portugese people in the area so the schools will be used to the language etc - see for admission details (its the in-year admissions you want - its probably best to contact the council first to find out which schools have vacancies) The schools in Lambeth (and inner city London generally) have good teachers and generally high standards so I think your children will thrive. This area is also easy to get into the Strand for Kings (and if you're in Vauxhall/Stockwell its possible to walk to work). Alternatively go to Camberwell which is nearby but slightly cheaper as no underground but Denmark Hill station is less than a 10 minute journey into Blackfriars which is a five minute walk from the main Kings campus, its also home to lots of Kings people as Kings hospital is there. The council for Camberwell is Southwark - see (although some is in Lambeth)

AnneWithAnEShirley Thu 13-Apr-17 20:09:58

Op I can't answer your question myself but just want to say how amazing mn is - love the fact that you've managed to get answers on where Schools will be used to Portuguese speakers and how to transition back into the system in Brazil smile

EdithWeston Thu 13-Apr-17 20:17:44

A slightly different bit of south that might work is near Chesterton School on Battersea Park Road, which has a huge rate of churn because of a weird demographic; it has lots of ESOL pupils and some very, very good teaching.

Stockwell is however the area for the Portuguese speaking community.

DoorwayToNorway Thu 13-Apr-17 21:23:42

To add to the already mentioned Battersea, Camberwell and Vauxhall, I'll throw Wandsworth, Clapham Junction, Balham, Tooting, Kennington, Oval and Denmark Hill into the mix and if you look carefully you can find good schools and cheaper accomodation in Elephant and Castle, Peckham and Streatham. All with great transport links.

mariab1976 Mon 17-Apr-17 00:56:41

Wow, this is indeed amazing! So many great tips - exactly what I needed and more! @AnneWithAnEShirley, you are so right!

*@DoorwayToNorway*, @RicStar, @LIZS, @siedward and @EdithWeston, thank you so, so much! I will look carefully into all the neighborhoods you guys mentioned.

@DoorwayToNorway - Such great tips. Where do you live in Brazil?
Our diretora is somehow used to having kids go away for a year or so - lots of academic parents in our community - and I am told all will be fine when they come back, but I didn't know that would involve having to take level in tests when we come back. It is good to have this in mind. I am mostly worried about my youngest, who is just starting to learn to read in Portuguese and will then have to be alphabetized in a language he does not speak... But like @RitzMcFee, I am not really worried about them learning much besides English, and being able to socialize with other kids and play etc.

I did consider the homeschooling option, @Saracen, but my husband will be working from home while we are there and so will not be able to teach them full time. Also, I kind of think they'd miss out on their year abroad experience - I think it might be a little hard on them in the beginning, but it should be such a good opportunity for them to see how kids live differently in another part of the world, and at the same time see that they are kids just like them. smile

Pixiedust1976 Wed 03-May-17 22:16:30

There's a few Steiner Schools in London that might suit? St Paul's is one?

DoorwayToNorway Thu 04-May-17 10:05:07

We're in Minas.
Kids are amazing so I wouldn't worry too much. In my experience, on average it takes English speaking children a little longer so there are sure to be other children in the class that can't read yet. Most UK schools have home-school reading diaries so you'll have the chance to teach the words at home and have some input yourself. Good luck, it's a great experience for your kids.

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