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Moving from English to Scottish Schools (Primary and Senior)

(37 Posts)
fullhouselisa Mon 01-Aug-11 08:16:13

I am new to mumsnet and I can see there have been a lot of discussions on this subject but I have my own set of woes i feel the need to share...

I have a horrible situation in which we have been planning a family life enhancing move to scotland as my DH (Scottish) is coming to the end of his military career and wants to return to the homeland. BUT it is proving a nightmare for sorting out the education of our 4 girl:

DD1 would suddenly find herself in Standard grade year when she had 2 years to go til gcses; DD2 would be in S2 when she was about to go to yr 9 (3rd yr senior); DD3 has resounding success at 11+ and a grammar school place but would be in P7 (though her friend also moving to scotland would be going to S1 because she has her birthday earlier in the year); finally DD4 was about to go into yr 5 but would jump to P6.

All because 2 fall later than the March birthday cut off. And because they seem to have shorter senior school in Scotland. Or have I worked it out wrong? I can't work out what the year equivalents are - for example with DD3 is she going back a year from Yr7 to P7 or is her friend jumping forward a year from yr7 to s1 because surely one or the other must be true, and this then impacts on all the others...?

Oh my poor head sadconfused

roisin Mon 01-Aug-11 08:59:09

The Scottish system basically starts school a bit later (bit more flexible about school starting age too) and they don't start high school until age c.12.

I wouldn't view it as "going back" at all. The Scottish education system is pretty good.

It's a very tricky time for dd1 to move, and you would need to liaise closely with the new school on that one. (Is the move this summer or next?)

But for the others it's not a bad time to move at all.

I envy you: we'd love to move to Scotland, but it's just not worked out for us yet.

AMumInScotland Mon 01-Aug-11 10:30:57

Because the intake year works differently (children start school in P1 from 4 1/2 to 5 1/2 as standard, rather than in YR at just 4 to 5), there's no real point in trying to work out what is "equivalent", or worrying if the numbers for the years don't seem to match up. Nobody is going "back" or "forward", it's just plain different!

The other difference is that Primary school goes from P1 to P7, then secondary goes from S1 to S6, so they are (on average) half a year older when they go up to secondary.

In general, I'd say just go with the flow and let them be put in the class for their age, as that will be best for them in terms of equivalent work expectations, and the social side too.

The only bit that worries me is when you say DD1 will be in Standard Grade year - do you mean she will be going into S4, halfway through the Standard Grade courses? If so, I would fight against that quite strongly and say she needs to go into S3 to start from the beginning of the courses, as otherwise she will stand no chance of catching up with the work. The others will adapt, but coming in halfway through a 2 year exam course is not a good position to be in.

CecilyP Mon 01-Aug-11 10:35:32

The cut off date is 28 February so, presumably DD3's friend has a birthday before that date and DD3 has a birthday after. I wouldn't think about it is going back or moving forward a year. Naturally, DD3 will be disappointed if she thought was starting secondary and will now be going back to primary. If her birthday is quite near the cut off eg March or April, it might be worth requesting that she starts secondary this year and her suitability will then be assessed by the LA - though no guarantees that your request will be granted.

The trickiest move sounds like DD1 who I presume was about to go into Y10 and now will be going into S4, so will only have a year to prepare for standard grades. Again, if her birthday is near the cut off, eg December to February (or possibly even earlier), it may be possible for her to go into S3 and thus have 2 full years to prepare. As many parents defer their children's school entry, she would not necessarily be the oldest in the class.

For DD2, it might a bit of a come down to leave second year and go straight back into second year, but it still means that she will 3 years of general secondary education before making her exam choices and she will be sitting her first raft of public exams at exactly the same time.

I wouldn't worry about DD4 at all. She was about to go into the second last year of primary school and she is still going into the second last year of primary school.

midnightexpress Mon 01-Aug-11 10:43:57

Nothing much to contribute, except that Yr5 is the same as p6, because we don't have a reception year here, you just go straight into p1 at 4.6-5.6(ish).

As others have said, there is a degree of flexibility, with Jan/Feb birthdays having an automatic right to defer and some consideration is given to those with birthdays in Nov/Dec in some places too. DS1 has at least one child in his class who is a December birthday who deferred. So DD3 may well have some opportunity to move years if this is appropriate academically.

As the oterhs have said, I think DD1's situation is the trickiest.

fullhouselisa Mon 01-Aug-11 10:55:48

You people are all just so lovely I could cry, and believe me I have done plenty of that. I had been reaching similar conclusions, but it's hard to sell the back to primary thing to DD3 (August) when her friend (december) is going up. She also had the second highest pass in the school for 11+ and highest in english sats, and won prizes at the Leavers Assembly.... tough for an 11 year old to feel like she's going backwards and I would consider given her academic successes so far appealing to move her up despite her age. I had also thought about asking if DD1 could go back rather than forward - to be frank she's struggling anyway and would greatly benefit from a repeated year. She is October though so it is quite a big jump. What to do, what to do?!

Added to all of that we are not guaranteed that there will be places at the local school anyway and yes, we were hoping to do it all this summer. Tight deadlines?? Oh yes shock

CecilyP Mon 01-Aug-11 11:17:16

Tight deadlines and rather short summer holidays for your DSs. You are usually guaranteed a place in your catchment school.

I think you would have a reasonably good chance of getting DD1 into S3 and, if it was me, I would definitely request this. It wouldn't really be a repeated year, as she would still now have to choose her options and embark on her examination courses.

TBH, I don't think your chances of getting DD3 into secondary would be all that great, as she would be 6 months younger than the next youngest child. It is still worth a try, but don't be too disappointed if you are knocked back. I know going back to primary will be a hard sell, but she would still be with pupils her own age - she would be right in the middle of the year, so half the pupils would still be older than her.

rainbowtoenails Mon 01-Aug-11 11:17:19

A girl at our school who came up from england with an october birthday ended up being the oldest in our year. Dd1 def needs to go into s3 rather than s4. S grades are a bit harder than gcses, thats why we do fewer subjects, and you will find the curriculum esp history different, no tudors here!

As for dd3 most of the private schools call p7 'transitus' and it is more like high school, with different subject teachers. If you could pay for 1 year she could maybe get a scholarship for s1. There arent any grammar schools here so if she is v academic id consider private.

You should also pribably look at the curriculum for excellence thread that was around a few weeks ago.

AMumInScotland Mon 01-Aug-11 12:14:01

With an October birthday, you could have deferred so she wouldn't have started until nearly 6 - a lad in my son's primary class turned 6 only a few weeks into P1 as his mother had felt he just wasn't ready a year earlier, and it is not uncommon for DC to be deferred. She might still be the oldest in her class, but probably not by a big margin if so. Anyway nobody would think it "odd" or tease her if she explains that she wanted to start in S3 to do the whole two years instead of having to jump in halfway through. She'll certainly find it easier to start in S3 if she's already struggling a bit, as it will take her a bit of time to find her feet anyway.

DD2 should be fine with S2 instead of Y9 - it's the same thing, the last year they do all their subjects, and when they get to make their choices about which subjects to continue with.

DD1 - I can see that she might be disappointed, but schools are very unwilling to put children up at this stage because of the social issues of being in an older class - other girls will be going through puberty etc far ahead of her and could make her feel like a "little girl", so the school system really discourages letting them move up a class.

If it was me, I'd definitely be focussing on DD1s needs - the others will get over their disappointment quick enough I'm sure, but exam courses are important in a bigger sense.

midnightexpress Mon 01-Aug-11 12:24:34

Bear in mind also that term starts here in a couple of weeks (ours go back on Aug 17th). So, very tight grin.

Good luck anyway.

fullhouselisa Mon 01-Aug-11 16:29:55

Thanks everyone x

CardyMow Tue 02-Aug-11 02:02:31

I moved to Scotland system from English system in the October of Y11 in England. My birthday put me in S4. I had to do subjects I'd never learnt before, and had 9 weeks to do 18 months of coursework. I asked to be moved down a year to S3. I can assure you that would be better for your eldest. SG's are MUCH harder than GCSE's. Much more in-depth, and I would say that the SG also covers the work you would do for an AS level in England.

I would not worry about it causing any major peer group issues if your DD went down a year to get decent exam results, in my school (Hebridean island) there were 4 of us who had moved from England that had gone down a year, and there were some who had started at 4.5 in P1, right through to those that had started at 5.5 in P1, so there was already a large age spread throughout the yeargroup. I turned 17 the day before we broke up for the summer holidays at the end of S4 at the end of June. Some people had only turned 16 that February I think, So each year group seemed to have about an 18 month age spread anyway.

I really would advise your eldest starting in S3 rather than S4 though. If she's already struggling with GCSE's, she'll flounder trying to catch up to SG's in such a short time, whereas with the full 2 years, she should get excellent results.

fullhouselisa Tue 02-Aug-11 11:37:19

Thanks loudlass - I know that is the right way on that one and so if we get to that position I would be asking to put DD3 in S3. I am coming to terms with the whole thing - it's hard being a dyed in the wool English lass getting my head round the fact that my girls will all be Scottish from now on! Of course their dad thinks that's great smile

Well we are putting an offer in on a house today (our third attempt) so wish us luck...

fullhouselisa Tue 02-Aug-11 11:39:00

of course I meant DD1 there - see how much my head has turned to jelly blush

midnightexpress Tue 02-Aug-11 11:39:21

Oh good luck on the house fhl. Which part of Scotland will you move to? There are quite a lot of us MNers up here, and some of us are even <whispers> English.

tabulahrasa Tue 02-Aug-11 11:48:22

Definitely try to get DD1 into S3, it's a 2 year course, completely different from GCSEs and she'll need 2 years to do it.

Try to sell DD3 on the social aspect, she'll have a year to settle in before going to secondary rather than being thrown in with people who all already know each other. (bearing in mind that it's very unnusual not to go to your local school in Scotland) Also when they hit S4, her friend will have to stay on till Christmas while she can leave after her exams if she wants. (yes I know if she's academic she'll stay on, but it might cheer her up, lol)

moanymum Wed 03-Aug-11 17:13:20

Jumping on the bandwagon late. DH and I are Scottish but lived in England and chose to move back to Scotland before kids were school age deliberately. Any move for kids will be upheaval but as everyone is saying they'll soon get used to it. Have spoken to others who've moved and they felt even in primary the classes were further ahead in Scotland so might not be too bad for DD3 - plus she'll have all the fun of another leaving year, and probably more trips. Some parts of Scotland (here in East Renfrewshire for example) don't even do standard grades, we go straight into Intermediates which are higher level than standard grades, so even more reason for DD1 starting at S3 - my DD has been hard at it with homework and exams for all of S3. And she's had various new people in her year this year and last and everyone has been pleased to see them, hear all the different experiences and make really good friends. Good luck and hope the transition goes well - by christmas you'll wonder what you were worrying about!

fluffles Wed 03-Aug-11 17:23:01

DD1 - yes, this would be an issue as she won't have covered the standard grade syllabus. she may have to go back a year - this won't be a problem in the longrun as our secondary school is only 6yrs rather than the 7 in england so she'd be the same age entering university.

DD2 - i don't see any problem there, she'll be in exactly the right place to begin standard grade work from the start and again same as above re. uni entry.

DD3 - may find p7 a bit easy, speak to the school about good extension work, but also an easy year might be good for her with the upheavel of the move.

DD4 - if she's in the top half of her year ability-wise may be fine with the move, otherwise i'm sure she'll gent plenty of support from her teachers. i don't think there will be a problem unless she's already behind her class.

so, basically i think they'll all be fine, but poor DD1 may have to go back a year to cover the standard grade texts etc.

good luck.

fullhouselisa Wed 10-Aug-11 11:21:38

Hi there, back again...

Thanks again everyone for your advice, it is so nice to have support.

Unfortunately the Scottish property buying system is letting us down now - the house we are trying for now is going to closing date next monday and school starts tuesday... it's really crap. DH wants me to rent and get the girls into school that way but it's just really starting to feel all too much. he will be staying down in England until he finds a job (I did say it was complicated). I told him all along that if we couldn't get housing sorted in time for the girls to start school this august then we wouldn't be able to go at all, but now he thinks it's my fault and that I have deliberately delayed things to get us staying here.

It could have been fine if the guy had accepted our (pretty generous) offer. now I don't know what to do and DH isn't speaking to me.


AlpinePony Wed 10-Aug-11 14:34:40

The school may be flexible.

I was a high-achieving grammar school pupil when we moved to Scotland when I was 12. I was actually put up an academic year and, I didn't even notice. blush I do remember that Maths was the only subject where I felt I'd "missed" anything, but soon caught up. The only "problem" would've been that had we stayed in Scotland I would've finished my highers aged 16 which would've proved awkward.

Iaina1977 Mon 06-Apr-15 18:43:50

Hi I am thinking of moving to Scotland from England my daughter is currently 14 born in July 2000 and in year 10
If I moved during the summer holidays would she go into s3 or s4 this coming September

Brandysnapper Mon 06-Apr-15 18:51:28

Hello, pretty sure it would be S4 as she'll be 15 then. Note the schools start back mid August not September!

Iaina1977 Mon 06-Apr-15 19:55:07

Ok thanks maybe not a good idea this year then
Maybe next year instead

OneMagnumisneverenough Mon 06-Apr-15 21:43:41

yes. my son was born July 2000 and is going into 4th year in May - most high schools move into the their new year in June to settle into their new timetable , ours is a bit earlier. The school system has changed since this original post - National 5s are supposed to start at the start of 4th year though some schools are starting them earlier.

Brandysnapper Mon 06-Apr-15 23:24:09

Yes better to start in S4 than S5, as she would be only half way through her English exam courses but would be moving onto highers in the Scottish system.

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