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School Issues - moving from England to Scotland

(31 Posts)
allison2067 Thu 05-Feb-15 16:45:31

We are moving back to the Dunblane area in Scotland in the summer from Epsom, Surrey. I have a 16 year old boy ( year 11 currently & sitting GCSE's) and an 11 year old boy( year 6 currently). We are thinking about either Dunblane High School or Beaconhurst School. The boys were in Beaconhurst for a few years prior to us moving to England 4 years ago. I wondered if anyone had experience of these 2 schools now ( good or bad) and could give any advice about how to help my 16 year old in particular settle down at school. I am a bit worried about the differences between GCSE and National 5's and whether this may make the move to Higher difficult. any advice / experience of this would be great to hear.

myotherusernameisbetter Thu 05-Feb-15 22:08:16

Your 16 year would probably be going into 5th year and therefore would be looking to start Highers I think so Nat 5s would be irrelevant? In Dunblane High the new school year will be starting on 2 May 2015. I think selection for subjects for this is probably happening about now.

Your 11 year old would presumably be looking to start S1 so should be fairly straightforward.

I have no experience of Beaconhurst but understand a lot of private schools follow the English exams rather than Scottish so I guess the transition should be easier?

I have 2 boys in Dunblane but none are in exam years yet, the school is very academic and gets good results so being a mean Scot I'd be thinking why pay for that at a private school when it is available at a state school. That said, i am sure being in Private school gives all sorts of added benefits.

myotherusernameisbetter Thu 05-Feb-15 22:11:57

oops just read the thread properly. I have no idea about how strenuous GCSEs are but understand the Nat 5s are fairly stretching compared to Standard grades - probably closer to the old O grades that I did so I am told. The step up to Higher seems to be less now so he may find it harder maybe? Id try to move him at the start of the new term at the beginning of May rather than in the summer hols if at all possible as he'll be missing nearly 2 months of a 1 year course.

LlamaLove Thu 05-Feb-15 22:21:18

Reading with interest as I also have a Yr 11 sitting GCSE and its looking like we couldpossibly be off to Scotland before the end of the year. Only just found out.

I too am wondering how they will fit into the Scottish sytem.

I also have a 13yo (14 in May) just choosing her GCSE options.

We will find out by the end of February if we are going to Scotland.

I guess we would be better to push for a spring move if they tell us we are going instead of a later move?? I didnt realise Scottish school years started in May.

Sorry to hog your thread allison.

Lidlfix Thu 05-Feb-15 23:01:17

Given that the state school in your catchment area attracts many placement requests from parents dissatisfied with the local indies - I'd put the money towards your DCs' further education. I teach Nat 5 and Higher (also BGE years but your enquiry pertains to exam years) and my friends who deliver GCSE and IGCSE were impressed with the challenge and rigour of Nat 5 as a preparation for post 16. Although the timetable for forthcoming S2-4 changes as Username said commence early May, new S 5,6 do not return until June when SQA exam diet complete. Importantly, options for S5 will begin soon so it might be worth contacting school as courses can fill up, numbers impact on staffing etc.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 06-Feb-15 07:32:05

Oh yes, forgot of course that the senior classes are on exam leave. Not got to that point yet, sorry!

Llama, if your child is 14 in May they would be the same age as my youngest so should be going into 3rd year in the Summer. Technically that's the last year of BGE so not a subject choice year. However it will depend which school or region you are moving to as they are all applying the rules differently and some are narrowing down the curriculum a year earlier. Additionally, most schools move into the next year in June a few weeks before the end of term. I just know that that particular school moves up earlier. If you have a good idea of where you are planning to move to, it would be worth enquiring what they do in that area or school.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 06-Feb-15 07:36:17

Also, if you wait until the English schools break up and then start in Scotland for the start of the new year after the Summer holiday then your child will get a shorter break as we go back mid August having broken up at the end of June smile

allison2067 Fri 06-Feb-15 09:43:16

Thanks all for the comments. We're actually visiting Dunblane High in Feb half term to discuss options for my elder son re. Highers. The reason we were also looking at Beaconhurst is one of my son's favourite subjects is drama and schools in the Stirling area don't teach it at Higher and advanced Higher but Beaconhurst does, otherwise we'd definitely go Dunblane High. From talking to schools in Scotland, I was aware that they pick subjects in April/May so we need to make a decision asap and get an application form in so that his choices can be included. Sounds like Nat 5's and GCSE's are similar so hopefully shouldn't be an issue moving to Highers. Does anybody know anything about primary schools in Bridge of Allan and Dunblane? My youngest would go into primary 7 in August. I've heard Newton Primary in Dunblane is good. Any views on Newton or others in the area?

allison2067 Fri 06-Feb-15 09:47:01

Hi Lidlfix, mean't to ask, do kids in Scotland in 5th year, sometimes do a mix of nat 5's and highers? At the moment, we're not sure if my son will get a C and above in his Maths GCSE, it's a bit touch and go. He should be ok in his other subjects but maths is dodgy and therefore he may need to retake. Could he take 3 or 4 Highers plus Nat 5 in Maths or would he stand out ( which at his age, he absolutely doesn't want to do) as doing something different?

wigglybeezer Fri 06-Feb-15 10:01:21

They certainly do in my son's school, especially in Maths, they had to run a whole class doing National 5 in fifth year. national 5 Maths is rather challenging according to my husband who looked over the course handbook . By the way, they do Higher Drama at my son's school in Perth and Kinross.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 06-Feb-15 11:06:41

Allison, are you sure your younger son will go into p7 rather than s1? as far as I understand all the primary schools in Dunblane are good. I guess it depends on where you plan to live and/or whether you need an out of catchment place. Dunblane primary is the one closest to the high school if you are driving your elder son from Stirling/bofa. I drive from stirling everyday as the transport to the school is not great. I have no experience of BofA primary either as my children didn't go but loads do from where I live.

allison2067 Fri 06-Feb-15 12:35:47

Yep he'll definitely go into P7. He started primary school a year later than he could have after jumping through hoops with Falkirk council to get agreement. He had speech and movement problems so we were able to apply based on that and his birthday being October 2003. Sounds like primary schools in Dunblane / bofA are generally good. Bit worrying to hear that the transport to the Dunblane isn't great from Stirling as we were thinking about basing ourselves in Stirling ( easier for me for getting to work) & the boys getting themselves to school either via train or bus. Is it a complete no no for them to try public transport?

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 06-Feb-15 13:35:51

there used to be a public bus that ran through Bridge of Allan and went right up to the school, as far as I know that still runs but only goes into Dunblane itself so they have to schlep up the hill to the school and it also depends on how close you live to BofA high street - we are probably just about walkable but it is a fair treck if the weather is poor. The train runs from BofA to Dunblane too and is fairly regular but again the train station is at the far end so could again be a fair treck depending on where you live and again still got to walk up the hill to school but perfectly manageable. Kids can manage to get from school to Tesco (near the train station) and back in their 40 minute lunch break so not too far.

Within Dunblane itself, there is no longer any access to the school bus unless you are entitled to a space based on the distance criteria (over 3 miles?)

I drive to and from school everyday from Stirling (BofA side) on my way to and from work and it takes about 15 minutes depending on traffic. When my eldest stated at High School, we did consider moving younger son to Dunblane primary for his last year so he could get to know people before going to High school but he wanted to finish of his primary years in his existing primary. It would be pointless me just droppping at station or bus stop as by then I've done half the journey and it is easier to continue up to the keir than double back anyway, so i don't really find it a problem. There are a fair few taxis that pick up at the high school too. I do take other children from my estate when I transport too, but I am full and to be honest I could run a full mini bus everyday with others I know that go from Causwayhead and BofA - There would probably be scope to sort something with other parents if the public transport wasn't working out. You should also note that the timetable finishing times for the High school is due to change from 2 May to have three later finishing days and 2 earlier. That wouldn't then co-ordinate so well with the primary times if thats a consideration.

I don't know where the public bus goes after the town centre if it was Newton you wanted for primary as it is up the other end from the High School.

fuckweasel Fri 06-Feb-15 13:55:39

At my school students can do a mix of Nat 5 and Highers in S5 and S6. They would be expected to do Nat 5 Maths and English if not passed in S4. Not sure if this is for all schools though. They do five subjects (Maths and English compulsory in S5; though this is not the case in all schools). We start the new term in the beginning of June for all years, though I have had students come into my Higher class in August who changed their mind about subjects after exam results.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 06-Feb-15 14:30:32

yes, they can do a mix Nat5s and Highers in S5 though we are not at that stage yet so don't know how prevelant it is. However my son was told that as he is unable to do one of the subjects he really wants to do as one of his Nat5s in S4 due to the subject choice columns not falling well for him, he could do that as a Nat 5 in S5 or 6 if he wanted or crash the Higher instead but obviously they can't predict whether that might still not be possible due to the subject choice columns next year. Dunblane has a very very high stay on rate for both S5 and S6

allison2067 Fri 06-Feb-15 14:46:22

Thanks that's really helpful. I hadn't appreciated that the timetable was changing as it would make logistics harder. One of the places we're looking at living is Causewayhead as it looks a bit cheaper than dunblane , centre of Stirling and BofA. We wondered whether there was ever any hassle between the kids that go to schools like Dunblane with kids that go to the local schools like Wallace high?

fuckweasel Fri 06-Feb-15 14:52:48

Also, I'm not a parent but experienced within both the English and Scottish education systems so feel free to ask any more questions and I'll help if I can.

allison2067 Fri 06-Feb-15 15:27:29

Thanks really appreciate the advice. Don't want to do anything that may make life anymore difficult for my 16 year old than it already seems to be for him! Is there much movement between schools in Scotland between 4th and 5th year? Down here there is obviously a lot as kids move to different sixth form colleges etc, so I wouldn't be bothered about him moving in Epsom as he'll be one of many. In Scotland I'm expecting him to be one of a few.

myotherusernameisbetter Fri 06-Feb-15 16:01:35

I don't think there is any hassle between the schools per se - in my experience they don't really have a lot to do with each other though tbh the reason we are at Dunblane anyway was because my eldest had bullying issues at primary that we didn't want carried on at Wallace. Therefore he doesn't have a lot of interaction with the Wallace pupils we live beside as some of them were involved in the bullying. He does have some Wallace friends via Scouts etc that are from other feeder primaries. My younger son does keep in touch with a few more of his former classmates, but that seems to be dwindling a bit - I guess they don't have as much in common anymore.

I think that there will only be as much movement between those High school years as there are in any other primary or high school year as obviously the schools all cater up to 6th year. Given it's catchment there will be less pupils staying on at Wallace than there are at some other schools so years may be a bit quieter though it is a bigger school to begin with.

Also, the catchment primary school for Causwayhead is Riverside not BofA. Getting to BofA you have the railway in the way so it'd either be a walk over the unmanned/unbarriered rail crossing or right round up past the Uni etc and back down again.

BofA PS and Wallace both cover the catchment for the Uni though so I think you get a bit more movement as they have Uni families who come and go. If you are looking for any particular local knowledge, I'm happy to let you know where I live etc if you want to PM me?

dotdotdotmustdash Fri 06-Feb-15 19:49:14

I'm not far away from where you'll be, although a different LA. My DC go to a large state school and are in 5th and 6th year.

There is very little movement between schools in 5th year, as allison said, generally only those who are moving home. Most pupils stay put in their original school. Our school is offering their 5th years Nat 5s in almost every subject as many didn't sit them last year (the first Nat5 year) as they proved to be quite tough. Out of a cohort of nearly 300, there were about 18 who achieved at least 6 A grades (the max was 8 subjects). If your Ds starts Highers, he might find that there is an expectation that more advanced work has already been covered in Nat5 than he may have covered with GCSEs.

Our school is starting a weird new system with senior pupils, that they won't be getting study periods unless they are purely sitting Advanced Highers. They want seniors still working on Nat5s, or a mix of Nat5s and Highers to have a full time-table. For example a DC sitting 3 Highers would also be required to study 3 Nat 5s, or if they are doing Nat 5s, they must sit 7.

motherstongue Sun 08-Feb-15 21:30:11

My best friend moved very recently to BofA. Her daughter moved to Dunblane High for 5th year. Her daughter is really enjoying it, has made loads of new friends really quickly and finds the 5th form has a lot of kids who want to succeed. School is, I think from memory, in the top 10 in Scotland.

With regards Beaconhurst, I also know parents of kids there who are all very happy with the school. Although Beaconhurst is private it does not follow the English curriculum unlike many other private schools in Scotland. The focus in Scotland is on a lot less subjects but more depth at the GCSE level/National 4&5, but I think there is more depth at A level in the English curriculum than in the Scottish Highers. To keep continuity, if I could afford it, I would look for a private school where your son could continue with A levels but for that you would need to stay closer to Edinburgh (Fettes or Merchiston Castle)or look at boarding around Perthshire (Glenalmond or Strathallan).

allison2067 Mon 09-Feb-15 10:09:00

Nice to hear positive things about someone else who's also done this and their daughter is thriving. We have looked at schools in Scotland that teach A levels but they are so expensive. Not a lot of change from £25k for a year, more if boarding! I am a bit worried that at GCSE level, they do more subjects and therefore do less depth than Nat 4 & 5 which may mean my elder son starts from behind if he does highers. We're up for half term and are visiting Dunblane High ; Beaconhurst and possibly Glenalmond so will get a better sense then. Looking at properties as well. We used to live in Falkirk and can't believe the premium you pay for property in BofA , Dunblane etc. Mind you we think it's going to be worth it. We are considering Braco and Greenloaning but I'm worried about broadband speed in those 2 villages. Anybody any ideas? I want to work from home regularly so need decent broadband speed.

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 09-Feb-15 10:16:50

No idea about the broadband speed there unfortunately but i am on BT Infinity 2 and get amazing speed although I am in Stirling rather than BofA. I had another thought, what about looking at the Riverside area of Stirling as would be handy for Stirling Station for the train to Dunblane? very mixed types of housing and Riverside school although quite large, also houses the Gaelic medium classes and the addition support units iirc. or you could try for a place in Allan's primary - a very small school at the Top of the Town which has a good reputation.

myotherusernameisbetter Mon 09-Feb-15 10:18:20

I would also say that on days where I work at home and still do the school drop off in Dunblane, it takes me just over 20 minutes return trip if the traffic is kind smile

allison2067 Mon 09-Feb-15 11:11:56

yeah, we've been looking at properties there and they do seem a bit cheaper by the Riverside. Causewayhead is another option. We'll get a much better idea when we're up and can walk around places to see how far houses are from train stations / bus routes etc. Main thing at the minute is making the decision about the school for my elder son. I'm a bit worried that given Dunblane is such a high achieving school that he'll feel a bit overwhelmed. he's dyslexic and whilst his coursework is A's and B's, his exams can be C's and D's particularly if he doesn't use his extra time. He's not very confident in his abilities academically and if everyone else seems totally on the ball and doing well, then he may feel a bit out of place. Meeting the assistant head at Dunblane when we're up so hopefully she'll give us a steer on this.

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