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What type of school for my transferring 11-year-old American daughter?

(29 Posts)
windycitymom Mon 15-Aug-11 19:55:05

We are relocating to London from Chicago in January 2012, so I am very new to the organization of the school system in the UK. My daughter is 11-years-old and starting 6th grade here in the United States. Would it be better for her to attend a primary school that goes up to 13-years-old (she could then attend the same school as her 8-year-old brother), or should I place her in an independent secondary school apart from her brother? We expect to be in the UK only 2-3 years, and then return to the US for high school. (I am not very interested in sending my children to ASL.)

TalkinPeace2 Mon 15-Aug-11 21:05:24

6th Grade is year 6 = top year of normal primary
relocating is disruptive
put her into year 6 to be a big fish in a small pond with her brother nearby
then they can settle in together

Oakmaiden Mon 15-Aug-11 21:12:59

Um, except for the fact that Grade 6 is actually the same as UK's year 7, so Primary school is not an option....

It depends really on the area you are moving into - I don't know of any primary schools which go up to 13 years, but there are middle school in some areas which have Year 7 and occasionally Year 8. There are a few independent primarys that go to year 7 or 8 too.

However, I think the most important thing is how long you will be staying. If you are likely to be here for 3 years then a middle/independent primary that goes to Year 8 would mean that she has to go to 2 schools in England (the first for 2 years, and the next for only a year) whereas putting her straight into secondary means she will spend the whole time in one school.

Your son will be going into Year 4 - so the choice for him is primary (which he could stay at for 3 years) or again a middle.

Earlybird Mon 15-Aug-11 21:13:37

If you will be in London, perhaps you should consider the American School in St. John's Wood.

I have no direct experience or knowledge, but it is supposed to be good, with lovely facilities. I think it is quite popular too, so get in touch immediately to see if there is any room.

meditrina Mon 15-Aug-11 21:16:43

I'm not sure 6th grade is year 6 - if you are 11 on 1st Sept in England, you'll be in year 7.

Year 7 is the first year in most of the state sector (unless you are relocating to an area with a middle school system), and places will have been allocated. In the private sector, the same will be largely true, though as they are not bound by the admissions code it might be easier to secure a year 7 place (especially if you do not have a Uk address yet). But many London day schools have fiercely competitive entry, are over-subscribed, and will simply be full. There is more churn in London than in many parts of the country for prep schools, but less so in secondaries.

Have you got a school lined up for DS? Does it have many girls in the CE years?which schools do they go on to? Do you know what sort of school you want DD to go to (and work back from where you want her to be in two years' time, IYSWIM)?

TalkinPeace2 Mon 15-Aug-11 21:17:45

OP said not the ASL

academically Kindergarten is like year R (cos our kids are hothoused)
and as OP is only here for a couple of hears, big fish small pond

Oakmaiden Mon 15-Aug-11 21:18:30

Just to be clear - the reason it depends on the area you are moving to is that different local authorities run different school systems, which can be confusing. For example, I used to live in Dorset, which consosts of 3 local authorities - Poole, Bournemouth and Dorset county. Bournemouth runs a primary 4-11 and secondary 12-18 system. Poole runs First 4-8, Middle 8-12 and High 12+. Finally Dorset runs First 4-9, Middle 9-13 and Upper 13+.

Mopst LAs are conforming in the direction of Primary til 11 and then Secondary though.

Oakmaiden Mon 15-Aug-11 21:20:48

Except that in this country we don't place children in school according to their academic prowess, TalkinPeace, we place them according to their chronological age. And a child who is 11 at the beginning of September will be in Year 7.

meditrina Mon 15-Aug-11 21:20:55

Looking at OO again, if you were confident that it would be only 2 years here, then I'd go for prep school until end year 8, then have the autumn term off before going back to US in the January. But if you're not sure, then she'll probably have to go to two schools, or straight to secondary. How does she take to change?

LynetteScavo Mon 15-Aug-11 21:30:07

Oakmaiden, you have even confused me! grin

Is grade 6 the same as Y6? hmm If so....

windycitymom, if you you can find a school your DD can attend for years 6/7/8, then I think it would be preferable than starting her at one school for Y6, and then changing again in Sept '12.

LynetteScavo Mon 15-Aug-11 21:31:25

isn't G6 = Y7? confused

Oakmaiden Mon 15-Aug-11 21:36:30

Lynette -yes, Grade 6 is Year 7.

Oh - just had a brain wave! There are a FEW independent schools which run 3-18 years - (for example Ballard School, in Hampshire). That type of school would be ideal, because then both children would be together and would stay in the same school regardless of whether they are here for 2 or 3 years.

Oakmaiden Mon 15-Aug-11 21:41:35

This website has a great search facility for independent schools, and lets you see easily the age range the school caters for:

MollieO Mon 15-Aug-11 21:42:16

There are quite a few schools that do 3 to 18. Maybe the OP should have a look at the Good Schools Guide for starters.

LawrieMarlow Mon 15-Aug-11 21:44:07

OP are you looking for a private school (fee paying) or a state school (not fee paying?)

windycitymom Mon 15-Aug-11 22:48:47

OK, wow, what a lot of good information. So here it is: We will have a relo package from my husband's firm, so we can go to whatever school we want and live any place we want (perhaps a problem of too many choices, no?!). Currently, we are leaning toward GEMS Hampshire in Chelsea (they accept through age 13). I prefer not to go to ASL - if we move to London, I would prefer my kids not hang out with lots of kids from NY and Texas lol smile Are there any good schools that go to 18 in addition to ASL? And yes, my daughter, I think, would be Year 7 - she is already 11. I would really like to be in central London. I lived in W2 20 years ago when I was a college student in London and am most familiar with the city center.

windycitymom Mon 15-Aug-11 23:11:48

And I also have a "translation" question about the Good Schools Guide -- What does it mean when it refers to "mainstream" and "special" schools? And does CofE mean Church of England?

Clary Mon 15-Aug-11 23:17:01

windycitymom to answer your last post, yes CofE is Church of England (many primaries here, esp in villages, are CofE ie linked to the village church.

Special schools are for pupils with special educational needs who are better educated there than in a mainstream setting (eg severe autism, behavioural and communication difficulties, etc); many pupils with SEN are educated in mainstream schools in UK - mainstream being the majority of schools, the standard if you like. Not something you need to be concerned with from the sound of yr posts. HTH

thisisyesterday Mon 15-Aug-11 23:17:41

a special school is one for children with special needs.

mainstream is just a regular school

CofE is, indeed, Church of England

Oakmaiden Tue 16-Aug-11 17:45:21

Oh, Hampshire School looks lovely. My only concern would be that if you are here for 3 years it would mean your daughter would have to move on to another school at the end of her second year there. Can you find out where the children from the Hampshire school tend to move on to?

windycitymom Wed 17-Aug-11 00:53:31

Where can I find information on where children from Hampshire (or any school for that matter) move on to?

TotallyUnheardOf Wed 17-Aug-11 01:07:52

WCM - Good luck with your move.

I recently did what you are doing but in reverse and for a much shorter time (I was in the US for 6 months a year ago now, not a million miles away from the Windy City, in fact!).

My dd1 was in 5th Grade over there and in Year 6 here, so I can confirm that 6th Grade = Year 7.

Much depends on the child, I think, as to how well they settle. My dd1 was a bit unsettled by the move, whereas dd2 just fitted right in and after a week it was as if she'd been an American girl her whole life. (She was in 3rd Grade btw.) On balance, though, I'd look for a solution where your dd doesn't have to change schools halfway through her time here. That'll give her the chance to make lasting friendships and to feel properly settled.

Just to say that often religious schools here are quite 'light touch' compared to the US. I am not a Catholic, but because I was in the US for a short time I couldn't access the public school system (even if I'd wanted to) and most of the private schools where I was were Catholic, so the dds ended up in a Catholic school. It was a lovely school and everyone was really kind to us, but the religious aspect was quite - how to put it? - full on (Mass three times a week, prayer services on the other days, prayers after every lesson, something called 'liturgical singing' which I never really fathomed, etc etc.). I am not complaining, because I knew what to expect, but this was just to say that a CofE school here might well be limited to a prayer in the morning and the occasional church service (e.g. at the end of term), so could be quite different from a religious school in the US. (Though maybe the one I ended up in wasn't typical - I'm not 100% sure.)

My other piece of advice would be just to phone the school you're interested in and talk to them. I chose my US school on the basis of the welcome I got when I called them and explained our circumstances.

Wishing you the very best of luck.

MrsSchadenfreude Wed 17-Aug-11 12:20:03

WCM - I would look at some of the international schools, which are more likely to have vacancies, as well as the London private schools. As others have said, many of the London private schools will be full - a friend of mine has had a short notice move to London, and there were only two schools (and she was looking in a wide area) that had vacancies. And one of those, her daughter didn't pass the entrance exam for, so her "choice" went down to virtually nothing. I would echo those who say, ring the schools now - they will know if they are going to have vacancies come January, and if they don't, then at least you will know at an early stage and be able to widen your search.

Personally, I would sort out schools, as this is going to be more difficult, and then look at where you are going to live. ASL is apparently v oversubscribed as a lot of local parents send their kids there as it is easier for them to go to an Ivy League uni from ASL than from a British public school...

EdithWeston Wed 17-Aug-11 13:45:45

windycitymom you have to get in touch with the school and ask. Leavers' destinations are often included in prospectuses anyway, or should be available on request.

The "big name" international school is Hill House (also in Chelsea) which goes to end year 8 (that is 12/13 year olds). It has a very distinctive uniform.

maree1 Wed 17-Aug-11 18:11:31

You will get a fair bit of information on independent sector schools if you check out First Eleven Magazine - they have an online edition.

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