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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!

ICanTotallyDance Sat 04-May-13 13:48:07

Yikes! He will go back to America for his final year of school? That will be very difficult. Year 11 is v. important in the UK. Can you try being admitted to Year 11 but put on the Year 10 timetable? Alternatively, can he stay in the US for one year? Yr 12 would be a more natural entry point into the UK education (though, if he's going back for Yr 13, this could be tricky too).

That being said, if he's had problems (socially?) with his freshman year, moving to the uk might be a nice change.

Will an academy be more accommodating? Try taking the issue up with the LA.

It's a shame the job doesn't cover independent schooling. Is there a cheap/free American school he can attend?

BooksandaCuppa Sat 04-May-13 14:18:39

It seems to me that the best options would be a) an American school b) getting a school to take him into year 10 (not as impossible as people would have you think, especially since academisation) which would make your natural return to the US with a full complement of Gcse qualifications more sensible or c) either he stays behind in states with family or friends for a year or you and all the children do, with only dh coming for the first year.

I can't imagine that ds would manage to pass hardly any GCSEs with what would amount to two terms of teaching. Sorry if that sounds defeatist, but I think it the reality.

If my options a and c are not possible or do not appeal, I reckon you would be best to contact all the local authorities in commuting distance of dh's work and ask for any chance of placement into year 10, even if you have to ask individual schools separately too. If you get a positive response, focus on that area for housing.

shebangsthedrum Sat 04-May-13 14:52:25

From my experience you should have little problem getting him to start at yr 10. This would be much easier for him academically and socially. GCSE is a 2 yr course after all.

SaturdaySunday Sat 04-May-13 15:26:40

thanks for all your input. it's a tough problem and your thoughts are helpful. the differences between the US and UK education system are staggering.

marinagasolina Sat 04-May-13 18:03:20

SaturdaySunday saw your thread in primary first and posted there, but I think a lot of that post also applies to this thread.

What are you thinking at the moment in terms of a stategy for DS? As a secondary school teacher and guardian to a child who has just rushed through year 11 work and modules in the space of a few months for the sake of passing her GCSEs (what your DS would have to do except with Year 10 work) I'm probably in quite a good position to tell you about the reality of missing half of the GCSE syllabus and how doable it would be for DS. If you have any questions please feel free to ask.

marinagasolina Sat 04-May-13 18:09:04

Icantotallydance certainly at none of the schools I've worked at would they allow a year 11 on a year 10 timetable- what happens the next year? I tried this with DFD a couple of months ago and failed, they're now making her rush through year 11 controlled assessments and module work to be ready for exams the week after next. She's working amazingly hard and I'm so proud of her, but it's a nightmarish situation and I wouldn't miss it on anyone. Plus DFD has the advantage over the OP's DS in that she is used to the UK school system, to the school, and already completed half of the GCSE course in year 10 so she is coming into this mad race to the finish knowing what is expected of her IYSWIM.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sat 04-May-13 18:42:40

Could your DS stay in the US? If. You end up only coming for 2 years you are goings mak it very difficult for him. We came from overseas when DD1 was 16, she started doing the International Baccaulareate and applied for Uni with NO GCSEs or equivalent qualifications as the country we had previously been living in only examined children at 18. Some Uni's wouldn't make an exception of her lack of post 16 qualifications confused
My DS arrived in time to start GCSE's but still experienced some problems as many school start some GCSE's in year 9 (or mid year)

I would have thought that the IB would be the only possible option as the credits are transferable and it is internationally recognised. (Obviously smile )

Schools offering the IB are listed here. I searched for state schools offering the middle year IB program and only came up with these two sad

If you are not able to leave your DS at home I wouldn't imagine that putting him in the year below would work out very well. He is already very 'old' for his correct year. He would potentially. Be almost two years older than his classmates if you were to put him down a year. That is a HUGE amount at his age.

He could potentially take a reduced number of full GCSEs in one year. I think the non modular style International GCSEs may work better for this. He could largely self teach as they are not that onerous for a bright child. Fewer high grades are preferable to numerous 'average' grades. It would help if he already knows the type of subjects he may be interested in studying at Uni. Something like maths, English literature, English language, physics, chemistry, biology, a modern language and either history or geography would be an ok range for a 'science'y ' student.

I would drop the requirement of a non uniform wearing school. It's a very difficult situation as it is and you would be making it unnecessarily difficult. (Not that I am a fan of uniforms smile )

Our family have moved internationally several times and, sometimes, it is just not possible to bend the rules however silly it may seem. I ended up speaking to the actual Minister of Education in one country. [Shock] He was very helpful and allowed my son to be excempt from learning a random African language and to continue with his French

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sat 04-May-13 18:45:51

Sorry for allllllllll the typos blush

SaturdaySunday Sat 04-May-13 21:30:28

Can someone please explain what would happen if my ds did wait a year to attend school there? If he skipped this whole craziness of entering at Y11 and waited to arrive until Y12, what would then be the process? Would he still be required to take the GSCE or another placement test?

SaturdaySunday Sat 04-May-13 21:32:33

oh, and we will be there a minimum of 2 years but if it works out job wise, probably more like 5 years.

Coconutty Sat 04-May-13 21:36:53

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

rootypig Sat 04-May-13 22:07:17

hey OP I've replied on your other thread to say I think entering for 6th form (the generic term for years 12 & 13) would work well.

But in response to some of the responses here, I also wanted to say that as someone who moved education systems as a child, I don't think you'll be f-ing up your son's life or education by moving now, though of course a lot of thought and planning will be needed to make it go smoothly. London is an amazing city - more so now than ever - and the chance for him to see some of the world is a wonderful one. How does your son feel about it? you don't say. US universities in particular are very used to candidates coming from a few different systems and I've suggested in my other response that your son talks to a few admissions offices while you're still over there about how admissions will work without a full US transcript, so that he knows what he's working towards / makes the right choices.

YoniOrNotYoni Sat 04-May-13 22:19:26

I think you need to speak to someone in the education departments at the Local Authorities you're considering, but here are two ideas to consider:

1) Both schools I have worked in would (and did) take Year 11 aged pupils in Year 10. They tend/ed to be pupils who were in Local Authority care or those who had traveled extensively, and if they messed up then they were kicked out (legally) in Year 11, but the schools certainly accepted them and let them start at a sensible point in the curriculum. Both of these schools were undersubscribed though (still had places available in all year groups) and, from what I understand, that is very unlikely in London. Would DH be able to work out of any other cities? Manchester? Birmingham? Cardiff? There may be more undersubscribed schools near there.

2) If it has to be London and it has to be Year 11 and you'll be home with DD anyway, then I think you need to talk to head teachers to arrange a sensible reduced timetable. For example, could DS do English, maths, science, plus three extra subjects that he enjoys/is good at and be freed up the rest of the time to catch up on last year's controlled assessments? (Most likely doing the prep at home, with limited teacher support, but with help from you)

Good luck.

SaturdaySunday Sat 04-May-13 22:20:21

@rootypig: ds is VERY excited by move and knows how tough it will be academically. the opportunity of travel and experience far outweighs his (and our) fears. it's going to be a heady challenge but one we are all on board for. so i am looking more at how to make it work rather than avoid/delay it.

lljkk gave some advice earlier in thread which made sense. still pursuing all options though.

SaturdaySunday Sat 04-May-13 22:23:04

thanks for all your feedback everyone. the range of responses give us a lot to sort through and consider.

marinagasolina Sat 04-May-13 22:32:10

Entering at year 12 would avoid all the craziness so to speak, yes. The difficulty is that AS and A levels are not compulsory as GCSEs are, so entry to 6th form is dependent on certain GCSE grades- normally at least Cs in English, Maths and Sciences and Bs in subjects studying for AS level. So if your son were to remain in the US for this year and come into the UK system in year 12, he would avoid the GCSE issue, but would have a whole new problem trying to get a 6th form place without the qualifications. I know an American family whose DD went into the UK system in year 12, but as a High School graduate into a private 6th form with an entrance exam, so a slightly different scenario.

Going in at year 12 would also be an issue because A levels are typically only taken in 3/4 subjects and tend to be more specialised and relevant to what the student wants to go on to do- Ie maths, biology and chemistry for medicine or history, English literature and French for a history degree. So even if your son were to be accepted into a UK 6th form without GCSEs, he would be leaving school without qualifications in at least some of the 'core' subjects needed for job applications even at the most basic level, making applications to both American and UK universities almost impossible. Some 6th forms offer the chance to resit GCSEs alongside A levels, although this would only be the basics like English and Maths, maybe some others if you're really lucky- you would be unlikely to be able to get a full set of GCSEs this way. This was one of the reasons DFD chose to rush through hers this year, despite missing most of year 11.

rootypig Sat 04-May-13 22:33:13

oh great, that's more than half the battle! you'll be fine. fight hard to keep him in the 'right' year if you can, would be my advice (based on my own experience of moving systems as a child). better for him to push forward and work hard than sit about spinning his wheels for a year.

marinagasolina Sat 04-May-13 22:36:25

Sorry, hit post too soon. If at all doable, I would go private. In the private system you have the option of starting in Year 10, which would solve all your problems. If a real financial stretch, your son would be able to swap to the state system after GCSEs, entry into 6th form can be delayed because it's not compulsory. But I honestly can't see how entry into year 11 of a state school is going to work without a whole lot of extra stress for your son and his teachers- I wouldn't be happy about having a student in this position in my year 11 class.

rootypig Sat 04-May-13 22:38:48

but he's 16 this September! if he goes into year 10 he'll be almost 20 by the time he finishes school confused

rootypig Sat 04-May-13 22:48:16

Yoni's 2nd suggestion is the best I've heard so far.

honestly, any London headteacher / head of year 11 who can't solve a problem as simple as accepting an English speaking kid who is on track for his age group needs a slap round the chops imo.

It is worth noting that while full time education is compulsory to 16, GCSEs are not compulsory. You son, turning 16 this September, will be perfectly free not to go to school at all in the UK - I'm not suggesting that is a good idea, but feel like some posts are confusing the legal requirements! as ever in life, there is more room to be flexible / creative than most people want to consider.

sorry, am having a super opinionated day! grin

marinagasolina Sat 04-May-13 22:48:53

Rootypig I see your point, but for everyone involved trying to rush through GCSEs in half the time is an absolute nightmare, trust me. DFD had already completed most of year 10 in terms of modules and controlled assessments, so we've only been trying to catch her up with 2 terms worth, not 3-5. She's stressed, she's spent most of her lunchtimes for the last two months in one-to-one revision sessions, done numerous hours after school to catch up with CAs, leaving her hardly any time to settle down and make friends. Her teachers have been incredible- trust me, at most of the schools I've worked at they wouldn't be willing to give up so many lunchtimes. Now I appreciate the OP's son is in a slightly different situation in that he is switching systems rather than coming back after missing a year, but in subjects like English, History, Geography etc he will have been taught completely different content, and in Science, Maths, etc he'll be behind in some aspects but not in others. Language wise I'm assuming he'll have been taught Spanish- not so many schools offer this in the UK, plus it's taught in a completely different way to the US what with controlled assessments. More likely than not he will come out with a set of qualifications not reflective of his academic ability, but of having to rush through the course in half the time. I wouldn't sentence any child to that.

YoniOrNotYoni Sat 04-May-13 22:56:29

<preens> Thanks rooty, I feel wise grin

rootypig Sat 04-May-13 22:59:32

yy marina, not suggesting that scenario, but something like:

--come to London and do year 11 in the US system somehow (private; homeschool; distance learning), then join year 12 at a state school;
--come to London and go into the UK system in y11, but do a reduced programme of GCSEs in core subjects as yoni suggests;
--stay in the US next year, come for year 12;
--whatever the choice, support DS to get his SATs

For me I think this business of getting a full set of GCSEs is something of a red herring.
--the OP can fight for her DS to be accepted for A levels without having GCSEs. I don't see that this is such a problem, coming from another system is hardly 'without qualifications', any headteacher taking that attitude is failing the child;
--if DS decides to apply to university in the UK, he will have A2s;
--universities in the US won't give a rats about lack of GCSEs, as long as he has reasonable transcripts. SATs will shore him up even more in that regard and the standardised tests are straightforward to prepare for whereever you are (there is lots of support available in London)

rootypig Sat 04-May-13 23:01:50

ha ha yoni I am so worked up about this I am practically ready to ring up my local academies on the OP's behalf! but I am a gemini and think rules are stupid grin grin

I am supposed to be revising for law exams, this is much more interesting grin

gymboywalton Sat 04-May-13 23:10:34

would this not be the best option?

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