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Help! Moving from California with a DS entering Year 11.

(86 Posts)
SaturdaySunday Fri 03-May-13 20:16:28

We are moving over this summer (July/August) and my DS is 15 but will turn 16 in mid-September this year. This puts him entering Y11. We cannot afford to go independent so will be finding a state school.

I had some idea that the secondary school thing there would be hairy, but from another thread am learning just how complicated it really is.

Our son is very bright and performs well on standardized tests but had a rough start as a freshman here this year. Consequently, his transcripts are not stellar and I am assuming he will have to work his butt off since he will be behind the other students in the GSCE. Initially I thought he might be able to start fresh at Y10 but am learning that is not an option in the state system. Again, we can't afford private school.

Any tips on navigating this? It's incredibly hard to figure this out so far away... any thoughts or ideas are appreciated!

mrsXsweet Fri 03-May-13 20:53:45

Do you know where you will be moving too? Could you find out the exam boards of the subjects he will be studying and get permission for him to start working in the syllabus whilst still in America? Will the school have done modular exams (these might have been abolished now)?
It won't be easy for him at all, not just academically but socially as well he might struggle. Is the move essential? Are you Americans, or British and moving back?
I know someone who was educated in America but came over for university. They did a maths degree and really struggled with the level of work.
On a positive note, if he is bright, GCSE's are relatively easy and there are lots of revision guides available. Seven or eight GCSE's are all that are really required, so if the school allows him to only do this number of subjects then he should have free periods within school time to catch up. He may also be able to do some kind of Easter revision course next year.

dyslexicdespot Fri 03-May-13 20:57:54

Would you be willing to home school him?

mummytime Fri 03-May-13 21:06:42

Actually Home school might be a good idea. Inter High or Brite school might help, or National Extension College.

SaturdaySunday Fri 03-May-13 21:16:01

We are American.

Considering neighborhoods of Stoke Newington or Victoria Park, and Greenwich at this point.

Homeschool is an interesting thought but not a good/realistic option for neither he or I . He needs the social life and I'll be with my other DS (age 2). We also have a DD who will be entering Y1.

dyslexicdespot Fri 03-May-13 21:43:03

He could still have a social life and you would not have to do all the actual teaching. Open university has lots to offer HS teens.

I think the real issue is, where you would like him to go to university and how long you plan on being in the UK.

SaturdaySunday Fri 03-May-13 21:47:25

we will be in the UK for a minimum of two years. as of now, he would like to go to university back in the states.

tethersend Fri 03-May-13 21:51:37

He should be able to get a place- some boroughs will try to tell you that all new Y11 students should be placed in alternative provision; don't accept this. Under the admissions code, if the borough has a mainstream place and you have requested a mainstream place, then they must offer it.

You won't have the pick of the schools, but there is traditionally a lot of movement in Y11, as many schools 'move on' students whose exam results and behaviour are not what they want them to be.

tethersend Fri 03-May-13 21:52:15

Oh, and move to Victoria park; I live there and it's lovely smile

Toptack Fri 03-May-13 21:55:51

Some Further Education colleges accept students from 14, eg Hackney Community College in the north of London and Lewisham College in the south. The intake at this sort of college is primarily 16+, after a student has at least attempted GCSEs elsewhere, so it would be an unusual path to take. I think your best bet would be to contact the Local Education Authorities in the areas you're considering to see if there's any flex in the system at all, so your son could enter in Year 10 - I know it's not general practice but definitely worth asking. The American Embassy might also be worth a try for advice. Good luck!

dyslexicdespot Fri 03-May-13 22:01:44

I would contact some of the US universities that you and your DS are interested in, and ask them for advice. After all, it is their assessment of his transcripts that will really matter.

dyslexicdespot Sat 04-May-13 08:31:29

I admit I have been thinking about your predicament a lot. I was moved to the US as a teenager and ended up living in the Bay area for about 20 years, on and off. It was a tremendously difficult time to move.

Teenage life in London is incredibly different from what it would be in Marin county or the East Bay. If your son is used to a living a nice sheltered middle class life style, I think all of you might be in for a nasty shock. However, if you are comfortable with him hanging out in different areas of SF by himself (Tenderloin, SOMA and the Misson) he might be better able to adjust.

Personally, I would never move a relatively happy teenager at that stage in their life.

WishIdbeenatigermum Sat 04-May-13 08:38:38

For 2 years shock
Forget it op. Unless your coming over to do something lifechangingly amazing, you're going to really f up your ds' education and social life.
The only way to do this responsibly is to put him into the American system in London. Sorry to be harsh, my pov is as the mother of 3 teenagers in London, ex expat and experience of life and schooling all over the world.

Maria33 Sat 04-May-13 08:42:46

Going into year 11 is a nightmare because all on trolled assessments will have been done in y10. This is almost 1/2 the course. You might find that if you push the school (or LA, thoigh im not sure if they have jurisdiction with academies) will let him go in in year 10 if you are a bit pushy about it - explain moving in from a different system etc. Mos teachers would support it as it makes their lives easier. If not, talk to the school. Have a plan for catching up on missed coursework, see if he can be taken out of core PE, PHSE etc and use this time for coursework catch up. It is all possible but will require a decent level of commitment from you and ds. Maybe a tutor to help him put together any coursework he is struggling with?

lljkk Sat 04-May-13 08:51:14

I am 22-year transplant from So-Cal to England

I just answered a huge amount on your other thread. I don't think it's impossible at all to bring him over here just for yr11-12, and have him in state schools and still go back to US for Uni, but it will take careful planning.

ThreeBeeOneGee Sat 04-May-13 08:51:53

Hi again (I replied on the other thread).

I have found a link for you which describes some of the other options that might be available:

lljkk Sat 04-May-13 08:55:40

Talk-UK Yankee is your friend.

outtolunchagain Sat 04-May-13 09:07:47

Could you really not afford a couple of years at one of the American Schools ,would your dh's employers pay .Socially year 11 is difficult too ,many only have a few weeks of school left now because of study leave and so there is only really 2 terms to meet people ,at the end of year 11some will stay in the same school for year 12 but many will move elsewhere so it's all quite transient.

The other thing you mention is a small school ,this is very difficult in the state sector in the UK as most secondary schools are large ,to get small you would almost certainly have to go private .

Could your dh come for his job and the rest of you follow in a years time,to be honest it is too late to choose a primary for this Sept certainly the type you will be looking for ,they are very highly sought and you only have to see the agonies people are going through on these boards to see how difficult places are to get.

LIZS Sat 04-May-13 09:08:33

Ask if he can be admitted to year 11 but timetabled with Year 10's or on one year GCSE courses. The main issue is that many GCSE courses focus on coursework and controlled assessments over 2 years but that is changing and especially iGCSE's are already more exam based. Alternatively you could look at US curriculum schools (not cheap) or IB schools although few in UK cover Middle Years. Avoid the FE colleges for now as those 14-16 year olds currently taught there tend to be on attachment from state schools which do not cater for their needs (social, vocational, academic) but again the govt is changing funding from next year to accommodate this age group more specifically.

lljkk Sat 04-May-13 09:30:48

By American standards, most UK schools already are small, tiny even!

My universities had 25,000 undergraduates. Most our local high schools were 3000 plus. I think that's typical in London (?), but huge for most the rest of England.

Lonecatwithkitten Sat 04-May-13 10:12:39

I read your thread in primary. I have friends who have a similar predicament, but in reverse a two year secondment to DC returning when their eldest would be in year 11. After much thought the kids are staying here in the UK for school and going to the US in the holidays. Is this something you would consider for your eldest?
The company are very supportive and are paying three return flights a year for the kids between here and DC.

lljkk Sat 04-May-13 10:37:09

At DS school there are technically 2.5 terms of attendance for yr11s, from start September to end May. It must vary by school.

I have a strong suspicion OP and/or her partner are academics, so they'll get funded for a basic move but not for all other expensive options being suggested.

Loshad Sat 04-May-13 10:55:23

if they are academics, all the more reason to appreciate what an important time in their dcs life it is. He will really struggle to get any GCSEs as more than ha;f the course will have been covered, he will struggle socially, and he will then have problems being admitted to A level courses of study.
When the OP mentions having a 2 year old and them being around I wonder if one parent is a SAHP, in which case if the move is essential for the earning partner then honestly i would recommend that the earning partner commutes termly between the US and London.
Students struggle with this sort of move even at the start of Y10.

outtolunchagain Sat 04-May-13 11:23:05

One of the problems is that the US system as I understand it is heavily based on continual assessment and annual courses and credits whereas the UK system is based on snapshots at certain fixed points so the nearer you are to a fixed point the harder it is to move .Yr11 is in the UK system just about as bad as it can be in terms of flexibility, whereas in the US it's just another school year

TreeLuLa Sat 04-May-13 11:24:54

I wouldn't move at this time, especially for such a short time.

He will not be able to pass most of his GCSE's as they are 2 year courses. He will end up with few or no qualifications.

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