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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!

lljkk Mon 22-Jul-13 07:48:34

....OP disappeared months ago...

mummytime Wed 17-Jul-13 14:20:38

Also plenty of US universities recruit from the UK, and don't seem at all bothered about the lack of GPA when I've spoken to them.

luxemburgerli Wed 17-Jul-13 14:12:58

If the OP is an academic family, I assure you it is entirely possible that the DH is not paid all that well! Probably doesn't even get a relocation payment, or any help with visas etc. You really are on your own...

IBMOM Wed 17-Jul-13 13:23:23

You may be able to afford a Private American school if you sacrifice your lifestyle. If you are coming over because of your DH employment then I'm sure he is paid well as an expat. Yes your DS education may not be covered. Downsize the type of house you rent, do not do any holidays and sacrifice whatever you can and give him the education he deserves. After all, you coming here to the UK is your decision and not his! Sorry to be harsh but you may not know how many parents do that kind of sacrifices for their kids. My children attend an American school in London and I know plenty of parents who are paying the fees by sacrificing their comforts and lifestyle. Hats off to them! Also as your son's university entrance will depend mostly on a GPA , how are you going to achieve this once you go back from a system which does not do that. His work here will not be comparable and will not be converted in a way that does him any favours. You really will be messing with his life if you go ahead with this. So sad to even hear that you were considering such an option.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 11-May-13 18:54:06

Also agree with IrritatingInfinity re there not being that much difference between the two systems. But there can be vast differences between schools, the work ethic and results in both countries - DD1's current school is academic and hoofs out kids at the end of 9th grade who aren't going to make the grade academically.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 11-May-13 18:42:11

Just saw that AndreaDawn said the same thing about the maths.

MrsSchadenfreude Sat 11-May-13 18:38:57

You may find that he finds GCSEs like math(s) and English language comparatively easy. My DD is in 8th grade in the American system, we are relocating to UK this summer (but she will continue her education in an American international school at eyewatering expense). I bought her some GCSE practice books in maths, as she is supposed to not be very good at maths (despite scoring 87% in her MAP tests hmm). She rattled through the standard level one, telling me that she had "done this stuff" in 6th grade and made a good fist of the higher level one. Ditto English language. So depending on how academic your son's current school is, he may not struggle at all. We are transferring DD2 (6th grade) to the UK system, and I don't think she will have a problem.

IrritatingInfinity Sat 11-May-13 18:29:42

I know that there are plenty of great US schools. However, the point I trying to make was that overall the US education system is no better than the UKs. On an anecdotal level there will be a million instances where one system is better than the other but overall there is little difference.
The OECD, Programme for International Student Assessment conducts huge impartial studies comparing students in many developed countries. The US and the UK are very similar. In the last batch of tests in 2009 the UK did slightly better at maths and science while the US did slightly better at English.

Having educated my kids at a number of schools in a number of countries I know that it is perfectly possible to be at a brilliant school but get an awful teacher, or an awful class. It can also work the other way around. It is hard to generalise.

AndreaDawn Sat 11-May-13 15:20:40

IrritatingInfinity......I hear what you are saying but unfortunately Grammar schools are few and far between and we don't have one in our vicinity.

Our experience of the US education system was a fantastic one, we were lucky enough to be in a great ISD and our teachers right from Kindergarten up thru High school were brilliant and dedicated. We have not had the same experience here and we do have a pretty good secondary school by British standards, but it is still no match for what we had in Texas and does not even come close! In year 10 and 11 here, my daughter was doing Math that she had done way back in grade 5 in the US and in all the other core subjects, the learning and teaching was leaps and bounds above what they do here. Reading, writing, spelling and grammar are studied far more extensively, bad spelling was not acceptable in our Texan ISD, so in my experience, the US standard was much higher than your state school in Britain. smile

IrritatingInfinity Fri 10-May-13 17:02:27

Forgot to say my last post was in reply to AndreaDawn. smile

IrritatingInfinity Fri 10-May-13 17:01:33

My four children have been educated in the US (and Canada) and the UK and we have not found a difference between the work ethics of students in each country. There were plenty of lazy kids in each country and plenty of hard working ones.

(I would imagine we might have found harder working kids in some Asian countries though) smile

I suspect you have been unlucky in the UK school that your kids went to. Perhaps if they had gone to a grammar school they would have had a more positive experience as your kids are clearly bright and hardworking students.

I have always understood that the US education system does poorly when compared with other first world countries and that numerous studies that have confirmed it. The UK consistently ranks higher that the US for high school education levels, including maths. Here is a recent and reputable study I also understand that the US education system is particularly poor at ensuring that disadvantaged children succeed at school when compared with some other developed countries. Not that the UK is great in this respect.

I agree that the Honor Roll system can work well. I think my kids benefitted from it and I think it did motivate them to work hard. Two of my kids were moved up a year as they were ahead of the other kids, especially in Maths and English and in grade 7/8/9 (ish) my eldest was put in maths classes at his selective private school in the US with children two grades older and he was still top of the class -- we always thought it was partly because he had had a strong introduction to maths in the UK.

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!

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.

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.

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

Whoop. Only do stay two years...

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.

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.

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 08:21:18

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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.

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