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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!

gymboywalton Sat 04-May-13 23:12:20

they also offer financial aid

Financial aid

ASL believes that students who meet the School’s admissions requirements should have the opportunity to benefit from the School’s programs. Financial aid is available for tuition and for additional fees noted above, including the SLD program and trips. Financial aid awards are based on need; applications for financial aid are assessed by the School’s confidential Financial Aid Committee. Financial aid is awarded on an annual basis. Further information concerning financial aid is available from the website or the admissions office. Application for financial aid may be made via the School’s website.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 05-May-13 01:41:24

If your son stays in the US for year 11 and then comes to the UK then he should consider doing the IB. Here is a list of state schools offering the IB in the UK.
Also, if he does decide to study in the UK, then it's breadth would compensate for your sons lack of GCSEs.

I don't see that putting him in year ten when he should be in year 11 as a viable option as he is so old in the year anyhow, especially as he is academic.

Saracen Sun 05-May-13 02:33:40

I think you should give some more thought to the idea of home education, and learn more about what it is really like. It's a very liberating alternative which would allow your son to study whatever, whenever and however he likes. There are a lot of crazy things about the school system, but nowhere is its inflexibility so shocking as for a young person in your son's situation. Give it a miss.

Your son is looking forward to the excitement of being in a new country. It seems a shame to bring him here only to put his nose to the grindstone satisfying the demands of a rigid system. I can't see that he'd get much time to socialise at school during a time when all his classmates are knuckling down getting ready for exams and he himself is working even harder than they are to "catch up" with a "missed year" of education.

If you go with the home ed option, having a two year old is neither here nor there. A sixteen year old is unlikely to be getting taught by mum anyway, unless you have some specific background that would be helpful to him, in which case you could spend a few hours a week helping him. He'd be working under his own steam (good preparation for university), possibly with tutors or distance learning or a local home ed study group if he wants extra support.

He can choose to do IGCSE exams if he wants. If he does, he can do them at whatever pace is right for him, subject to availability of an exam centre at the time he wants to sit them. He can do as many or as few as he likes, in any order he likes.

He can do courses (part-time or full-time) at a local college. It used to be tricky to arrange funding for a Year 11 to do this, but from this September that is changing and colleges can fund young people in Y10 and Y11 directly. Colleges may or may not be flexible in accepting him without any GCSEs; experiences of home educated teens in attempting this vary. (Common wisdom is to approach subject tutors rather than admission tutors in the first instance, as the former are more likely to be flexible.)

If he's planning to return to an American university then he could go with an American curriculum. Or he could put together his own programme of study, choosing whatever is right for him in each of the subjects he wants to study; that "pick-and-mix" approach is very common among home educated teens here. If university is on the horizon then he'll want to keep an eye on what the universities would consider to be acceptable evidence of preparedness. I expect that doing ACTs or SATs would be a straightforward piece of the puzzle. Some universities are accustomed to receiving applications from young people who come from a range of backgrounds.

The Open University is very well-regarded and gives excellent support. It has been popular with academically-inclined home educated teens, though recent funding changes make the OU a less attractive option now than it once was.

Your lad could get out and about and learn that way. There are plenty of fantastic museums and historic sites on your doorstep and farther afield. Public transport is probably better than you are used to. My teenager and her friends roam around readily.

As for social opportunities, school isn't the only place to find friends. In your area there may or may not be a ready-made social network for home educated teens to plug into. If not, what about a part-time job? There are many interesting volunteer opportunities available to over-16s too. Or he can join a club or do sports.

You say that this move represents a great adventure to your son. Don't lose sight of that by pushing him into a restrictive learning environment when there are so many other options available.

Coconutty Sun 05-May-13 09:03:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Saracen Sun 05-May-13 09:54:13

Not true, Coconutty, he is of compulsory education age until June of Year 11 and must be in full-time education until then. (Third Friday in June, I think?) People often say that compulsory school age is 5-16 but that isn't accurate at either end; it's just shorthand.

After that, until his 18th birthday he must participate in education of some sort - this can be full-time education, or if he is doing a substantial amount of voluntary or paid work then part-time education on top of the work. There are many ways to meet this requirement including apprenticeships.

Coconutty Sun 05-May-13 10:01:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

burberryqueen Sun 05-May-13 10:03:54

saturdaysunday I pm'd you

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 05-May-13 10:24:37

The SCHOOL LEAVING AGE has changed.

Here is a cut and paste quote from the Department of Education Website.

The Government is increasing the age to which all young people in England must continue in education or training, requiring them to continue until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 from 2013 and until their 18th birthday from 2015

Young people currently in Year 11 and below are affected

Raising the participation age (RPA) does not mean young people must stay in school; they will able to choose one of the following options post-16:

full-time education, such as school, college or home education
an apprenticeship
part-time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering full-time (which is defined as 20 hours or more a week)"

So, yes technically, kids can leave school at 16 but they have o be involved in some sort of further training^

ljny Sun 05-May-13 12:51:04

ASL (American School in London is very preppy and very American. Many families are high-earning corporate ex-pats. A disproportionate number of graduates will go to an Ivy, Stanford, or top selective US college. I don't know what his chances of financial aid are, but would your son be happy there?

They live in the world of American ex-pat families - and aim to keep the kids within the American system during their time in London. This isn't a bad thing - some of the families move frequently, which can be hard on the children.

I'd be more concerned about the social side of his spending one year there (if he could) then switching to a London sixth-form college. That's two culture shocks in as many years - especially for a kid who just had a bad year in 10th grade.

The British system is much more rigid than the US, as everyone has been saying. My advice would be for your husband to go talk to as many schools as possible - talk to ASL (they're very nice), talk to the form tutors at Stoke Newington, visit Islington Sixth Form College (it used to be very rough, now it's doing the IB - but how many kids get the diploma? What grades do they get?)

Talk to the sixth-form colleges in the areas you're looking at. Explain the situation and ask what it would take for them to accept your son for Sept 2014.

There's an IB school in the Isle of Dogs with mixed intake and good results -

IB could be a good solution for your son - it's a bit harder to get into UK universities than A-levels, but not too bad - and, of course, most good US colleges are familiar with it. So you're keeping his options open. And he would be having a British not an ex-pat experience.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Sun 05-May-13 14:05:06

ASL is £25k a year. The OP has repeatedly said they have to use state schools.

lljkk Sun 05-May-13 14:31:55

There aren't any real penalties if a 17yo isn't in education, though, it's a law without teeth.

Sometimes I think MNers are made of money. Maybe it's just the Londoners.

Mutteroo Sun 05-May-13 14:37:13

OP, speaking as the mother of a 17 year old son, I think you're being very brave bringing him to a new country, culture & education at this stage of his life! I'm not knocking your situation because it is what it is & sometimes we can't pick & choose the way our lives pan out.

Most state schools expect pupils to take a large number of GCSEs & to be honest these are not all required. It would probably be better for your DS to take a reduced number of GCSEs as some have suggested & keep him in year 11. To attend sixth form & take A Levels or IB (if that's your preference & its possible), he'll need at least 6 GCSEs. IB requires at least B grades; A Levels require C grade minimum, although some sixth forms will have higher requirements & anyone with a C grade will struggle to get a good grade at A Level anyway.

Once you know which schools have places, phone/email them all & see what they are prepared to offer. Be determined, be forceful & you'll make it work for DS. I wish you all the best for your move & I'm sure it'll be a wonderful adventure your family will always treasure.

Trix2323 Sun 05-May-13 15:08:19

Which are his strongest four subjects, and does he already have an idea about what he would like to study at university?

How about talking to the schools/local authorities about the "equivalence" of your DSs studies to date? As is is just a few days younger than the group that would be entering Year 12, he may be allowed to go directly to AS levels.

A school usually expects a minimum of six GCSEs to allow a student to enter year 12; but there is also the option to offer "equivalent qualifications". His current school can provide a transcript of his results to date. If you DS has done well in his subjects across the board, a head may well consider admitting him directly to Year 12, depending on the combination of subjects that he wants to take.

A head ought to consider admitting a student to Year 10. Some of the posters above have suggested this could be negotiated.

Direct entry to year 11 would be very tough and perhaps impossible for some subjects where controlled assessments have already taken place.

californiaburrito Sun 05-May-13 17:49:47

Hi SaturdaySunday-

I don't know if you've thought of this yet and I don't want to add to your worries but if your DS wants to attend university in the US he would certainly be at risk of losing his California residency for the UC/CSU system if he completed his education in the UK. That would add an additional 22k per year at a UC school!!!! I don't know of any way around this but it might be worth adding to, what I am assuming is, your growing list of questions.

lljkk Sun 05-May-13 18:11:31

Sheesh, we forgot about that elephant in the room, didn't we cb?! So the lad would need to go back to live in California for a spell anyway, might need to got to CC to get some units & GPA back up.

californiaburrito Sun 05-May-13 18:28:25

I know, I don't want to be such a downer, but I swear this thread and the fact that I have for the first time looked into UK secondary schools recently is giving me nightmares about my own kids' education and my eldest is only starting reception in September!

OP I know this all may seem like a complete clusterfuck but you seem to be a very positive person and I'm sure that if moving to London is the best choice for your family you'll make it work.

mummytime Sun 05-May-13 22:53:54

Californiaburrito - I wouldn't panic. But it's not a great idea to move between years 10-11 or 12-13.

OP if you decide for your son to go to Uni in the UK, that would be very expensive as well, as he would have to pay overseas fees.

RiversideMum Mon 06-May-13 08:21:18

I really would suggest that you speak to a couple of schools. It seems to me that a reasonable Headteacher would admit to Y10 and allow your DS to do full GCSE courses. Despite what others say, there are children in the education system in the "wrong" year. I think as your move is not permanent (I think you said that in your other thread) then there is more reason for your to argue your case and for a school to accept.

Helpyourself Mon 06-May-13 08:30:09

A headmaster won't because he will bring the league tables down. He will be listed as a 16 yo who didn't get his 5a-cs at GCSE.
OP, make some enquiries to strengthen your case, but any responsible employer (especially academia, but even NGO/ charity arts, or whatever sector you're in that so definitely precludes going private) should pay for your son to finish off school in the American System.
If they won't, that suggests this is more an adventure for the family rather than a managed work move, and I'd strongly advise you to not come.

RiversideMum Mon 06-May-13 08:40:43

I disagree. There are mitigating circumstances all the time. Headteachers need to do what is best for the child. For example, a child at my DC's school was involved in a dreadful car accident, spent 6 months in hospital and was allowed to repeat a GCSE year. Another child's father died in the middle of GCSEs and again was allowed to repeat. Headteachers are interested in individuals as well as overall results.

BooksandaCuppa Mon 06-May-13 08:43:32

The main reason it used to be difficult to place a child out of year was that they could if they so wished leave school at 16 half way through Gcses leaving a gap in the school's statistics. Not good with the pressure of league tables etc.

Now, the child has to stay til 17(later years til 18), a Head is more likely to be able to trust that the child in question will leave with qualifications, negating the league table issue.

And in some senses it would be bonkers for them not to consider it for children who have moved from abroad or been seriously ill or whatever, because to some extent the whole reason the (previous) govt brought in the higher leaving age was to allow the weaker students to retake maths and English and the like (stronger candidates have usually always stayed on) to ensure they had minimum qualifications. It therefore makes much more sense to allow a student to do a proper two year Gcse course, than a two term one, followed by a year of retakes (iyswim).

I suppose the relevant thing to consider in the OP's case is what level she requires her ds to go back to the states at? Equivalent to Gcse or to A level? (that's if they do only stay a year). Not knowing the US system or her son, I couldn't say.

BooksandaCuppa Mon 06-May-13 08:45:14

Whoop. Only do stay two years...

Helpyourself Mon 06-May-13 09:29:58

Riverside I agree it does happen. But for extenuating 'humane' circumstances. I know of two dcs who are in the year below- and as all schools have some children like that there just isn't the capacity to take on more 'league table scupperers' who are there only on a whim when there is a solution- going into the American system here.

iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Mon 06-May-13 10:09:43

The OP has said that her son is academic and that his birthday is mid September. If he dopped down a year he would be with DC's up to two years younger than him. Teens develope a lot during this time (obviously smile ) and I can't see that this would work.

_Also, the school cut off date in California is December 2nd_ Which, I think, means he may effectively be dropping TWO academic years if he were to go into year ten. confused. This may cause even more problems when he returns to the US.

It doesn't always 'all come out in the wash' when it comes to messing around with a childs education. Sometimes things just can't workout without some a lot of collateral damage and it is the child that suffers. I don't regret moving from country to country with our DC's. We had some fantastic experiences but moving with teen children from one education system to another WITH the knowledge there will be another move later on is extremely difficult (but not nessecerily impossible smile ) I know.

AndreaDawn Fri 10-May-13 15:38:26

Hi there,

We moved our kids from Texas when my son was just finishing his Junior year in High school and my daughter had just completed grade 6, almost 4 years ago now. My advice to you is to perhaps not live in London, other counties are within an easy commute and the schools I think are perhaps better. We moved to a small town in the Cotswolds in Oxfordshire and our local state secondary school was very helpful. they allowed my 18 year old son to go and join the final year (upper 6th form) so that he could do his A levels, which he needed to get into University. Now the A levels are usually a two year course but they allowed him to do it in the one year, as his Tx High School transcripts were good, he did 4 AP courses. The work in the English system was so easy for him! Nothing like his AP course work, which was difficult. The Brits will be very pessimistic and tell you how hard it all is but it really isn't and my son went to University and has just finished his degree course!
My daughter has almost finished her year 11 and again, if your child is bright, will find the work easy, they seem particularly behind in Math in Britain and don't work to the same standard at all. The biggest thing your child will have to contend with is the culture shock, my two still haven't got used to the lazy mindset of most of the kids, they don't aim to be Honour Roll or A/B students (this system does not exist here) so most kids just poodle along. My two kids still have the American mindset of reaching the top and being the best they can be and this has worked well for them.
It is never easy moving kids at this stage, but kids are very resilient and can amaze you and the overall experience for them will be a great one to look back on and will give them a different perspective. My two can't wait to get back to the US once they have finished their University degrees!
I hope this helps you and good luck!

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