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Relocating from Australia with secondary and primary children.

(18 Posts)
aussiemumof3 Wed 03-Jun-15 20:38:56

We have relocated our family and are looking to move to Kent or West Sussex (Tunbridge Wells/East Grinstead). 13yo needs a girls school, an 11yo boy with Aspergers in mainstream school in Australia and a 7yo. We know these areas because we lived in UK pre-children but any advice on schools, areas and how to navigate this system would be greatly appreciated.

LIZS Wed 03-Jun-15 20:41:23

You need to speak to the LA for East Sussex and Kent to see what your options with vacancies might be , although nothing can be processed until you arrive. Most secondaries in EG are coed though.

Tanaqui Wed 03-Jun-15 20:43:54

Kent has grammar schools, and at least one girls high school (non grammar). Can you be any more specific on preferred areas?

AussieMuminUK Thu 04-Jun-15 06:37:12

Hi there, We are moving to West Sussex in August (DD 11, DS 8) and from my research we will have to first have an address in the UK, then apply to our local council, then be allocated a school. I'm assuming you know about Ofsted? If not just google it, it's like the "my School" website we have in Australia. Good luck!smile

Panicmode1 Thu 04-Jun-15 11:02:11

Tunbridge Wells primaries are very full so you may not have a huge amount of choice for your 7 year old, and obviously we have the 11+ in Kent which is taken in the September of Y6, so your older two would be looking at one of the non-grammars presumably. If you are Catholic, then there is St Greg's which is an OFSTED outstanding school, if you are CofE then there is Bennett Memorial again mixed, large and highly regarded, but they are VERY strict on their religion criteria, so you would need to look at the website to see if you tick any of the boxes for it, and the 'new kid on the block' is the Skinners Kent Academy which is improving all the time. I can't advise on East Grinstead schools at all I'm afraid as I don't know them. But I think you will need to have an address before you can do much in any case.....

rabbitstew Thu 04-Jun-15 12:04:57

Why does your dd need a girls' school? What's wrong with co-ed for her? I think you'll be limiting your options wherever you live if you are adamant you want a single sex girls' school nearby AND appropriate schools for your other children.

aussiemumof3 Sat 06-Jun-15 12:55:32

We would prefer something semi rural or rural for kids and big dog but are we shooting ourselves in the foot and making things hard in school search? We will be renting so the schools determine the search... we can change the house more easily than changing schools. I understand that we need to have address before we can apply...going around in circles...wanted to shortlist schools that might be possibilities first. System similar but simpler in Oz. Schools either state or independent. No Grammar system or 11+.

aussiemumof3 Sat 06-Jun-15 12:58:38

13yo works better in girls school. She was in coed but changed her to lovely Catholic girls school in city and thrived. Lots of research to support girls learn better...borne out in her case.

LIZS Sat 06-Jun-15 13:08:43

If you really want a girls-only school I don't think you'd get that by living in East Grinstead. There is Millais in Horsham or you'd need to look further into Kent or at independents. Lingfield Notre Dame is co-ed but was until relatively recently a Catholic girls school so doesn't have a strong male bias. Also not as expensive as many other independents. You do need to determine what your priorities are as satisfying your dc's varied needs will be very tricky in the short term. Has your ds just turned 11 or would he be 12 by end of August ?

aussiemumof3 Sat 06-Jun-15 13:19:37

Thanks all for advice. Have lived on relocation websites now for while and found helpful....Ofsted etc and have spoken to Kent CC and have in year admissions forms. Sussex next. I am CofE and dh is catholic so either a possibility. Thanks for tip on website religion criteria. Will continue to dig. Good luck AussiemuminUK with your move.

aussiemumof3 Sat 06-Jun-15 13:38:02

ds will be 12 in February. Technically should start secondary but really tricky with AS v nervous. In Oz would have had another 18 months of primary school. dh threw East Grinstead into the search...thanks for dd advice.

LIZS Sat 06-Jun-15 14:37:30

At least Ds would be starting secondary at an entry point then , y7. May make it difficult to find a place though as most popular schools will be full. Might get in on an appeal though, if necessary.

mummytime Sat 06-Jun-15 14:52:00

In my experience Secondary whilst not as cosy was much much better with ASD.

What were the issues your DD had with co-ed school in Oz? (You don't have to tell us just think about it.)
How was this solved by girls only? Would a non-sexist school/one which jumps on such comments be as good? Could she be on the spectrum - it demonstrates very differently in girls. (If she could be do look at books etc. by "The Girl With Curly Hair".)

For your son I would look for a school with a great SENCO - which can be hard to find. I would only move to a Grammar school area if he was super bright, and even then I would look carefully.

Have you looked at the cost of private schools in the UK? Because I believe they cost a lot more than Australia. Also prices tend to go up by about 5% a year, and that is in addition to any stage price increases.

It is very hard in state schools in the UK to put children in a year group other than their "natural" one, although it is sometimes possible with an SEN.

miller599 Sun 07-Jun-15 10:41:06

You could just ring the LA of Kent or Sussex and asked which schools have spaces for the specified year groups. Although things can change by the time you move but at least you have an idea of schools that have spaces which could limit your search when looking to rent

aussiemumof3 Sun 07-Jun-15 23:45:02

You are right, at least if ds is going to secondary he would not be alone with starting new school. He would tower over everyone if he stayed behind a year. We will hope and aim for good SENCO

We would not be keen on going near the Grammar system with him. He's bright, but has dysgraphia (reads well above his age but can't get the letters out in right order to spell words). Mummytime, I would be interested in what made secondary a more comfortable fit for ASD...but this is probably a whole different thread!

For dd, private has always been an option but certainly more expensive here, particularly because she was in a Catholic independent school where the fees are far more reasonable than the Aussie private school.

You're right ASD is different in girls, but in her case it's ADD, diagnosed when she was 7 so focus is definitely where she struggles. For whatever reason, the single sex environment just works for her. She went to 2 different co-ed primary schools, one in Sydney, one in Adelaide and there was a huge and immediate difference.

mummytime Mon 08-Jun-15 07:47:10

My DD has a fab SENCO - which I already knew because she'd dealt with my older two in ways that suited their need (very little involvement with one, but got her the accommodations she needed to succeed with no wasted time questioning things).
All three of my children have preferred secondary because it's big, which means they have strict procedures in place. Basically they know where they stand, there are clear rules if you break them you are in trouble, but you also very clearly know what you should do. Also the school is humane and subtly flexible - so they have systems to allow flexibility for pupils who need it eg. reduced homework, or homework written in the diary for them, or larger photocopying, or leave the classroom cards (useful for ASD if they are getting stressed), or ....
My children like the fact they are not with the same teacher all day. They like the discipline. And the school is very tough on bullying (whilst also working with bullies to stop the behaviour, help them to adapt if they are willing to).

If you want your DD to go to a single sex school, then that is going to have to be your priority. There are relatively few single sex girls state schools around.

basildonbond Mon 08-Jun-15 09:29:30

Secondary has been a much, much happier experience for ds (aspergers/dyspraxia). I'd been really worried about the transition as the last two years of primary were utterly miserable but he's not cried once about school since starting (this was a child who started crying every Sunday afternoon in term time and from Wednesday onwards at half term...)

He likes the structure, he's bright so finds the lessons more interesting and challenging, he's in top streams so there are lots of other geeky boys even if they're not on the spectrum so has plenty of like-minded people to hang out with. The school is really hot on bullying so that's not been an issue at all and joy of joys there are no dressing up days etc and extra-curricular stuff is on a purely voluntary basis

Ds has gone from refusing to go to school on several occasions in Y6 to being happy and positive about school (he's now in Y10). It's not been completely plain sailing but on the whole a much better experience than primary

Needmoresleep Mon 08-Jun-15 12:51:28

If you can afford private, Mayfield would be an obvious choice for a girls Catholic school near TWells. Very nice and nurturing, yet caters for the more academic as well. And because it is also boarding it will be quite cosmopolitan. The countryside round there is lovely.

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