Sixth form dilema - Advice please!(17 Posts)
My family currently lives in Australia (originally from UK) and my Daughter is in the equivalent of lower sixth (aged 16). However, she has been homesick and wanting to go back to the UK for a long time and we have said we will consider boarding school for sixth form September 2016.
This means that she will be starting sixth form aged 17 and graduating aged 19 (birthday in March), which will be older than almost all students. She is very worried about starting University aged 20 and being older than all her classmates in school, but also wants to go back to the UK.
*if she doesn't go to boarding school, she wants to go back to the UK as a postgraduate student
Any opinions? Is boarding school a bad idea for her?
It's not uncommon for children to be a year behind in the independent sector especially those come from a roads so I personally don't think this is a significant issue.
Whether boarding is a good idea for her is impossible to say I know some who've look like brilliant candidates for boarding who hate it and those who've like like rubbish candidates who love it. Having said this those who thrive enjoy what boarding schools offer; lots of sport, or drama or music etc, are adaptable enough to live alongside 60 other people, are happy about lack of space and privacy.
At the risk of repeating the same old mantra unless you've got family/family friends fairly near (1 1/2 hours one drive IME) to your chosen school in the UK make sure you choose a school that really is full boarding, definitely no weekly/flexi boarders and max 20% day pupils, these are very much in the minority, remember most boarding schools are struggling to fill their vacancies and will tell you anything to get your money!
Having said this competition for 6th form places is quite tough most schools want good results.
Thanks so much Happygardening!
Also I forgot to mention that if she does this, she will effectively be repeating a year of school because the term times are different in Australia, and I'm not sure if this will disadvantage her or be beneficial.
Would she stay in the UK for university? (So she'd be 19 still, rather than 20?)
Obviously loads of people do gap years, so start university at 19, and there will also be plenty of students who aren't doing the traditional straight-to-uni-from school path, so will be older still.
But even in 6th form, there are always people who are older for some reason - I changed schools and redid my lower 6th (but was young to start with, so ended up in the 'right' year), a friend there had had glandular fever during his lower 6th and had fallen back a year, I know current/recent sixth formers who didn't do as well as they wanted in AS so have repeated y12 at their original school or elsewhere - so she shouldn't feel awkward about that.
For me, repeating a year was hugely beneficial. I'd got so unenthusiastic during my first year of lower 6th, wasn't working very hard, etc. Changing schools really revitalised me, and the style of teaching and syllabuses were so different that I don't remember ever being bored or feeling like I'd done it all before. (Swapped one A level too, went from maths + 3 sciences to double maths, physics, chemistry.) Having some prior knowledge also gave me some confidence going into a much larger, more competitive school. And if part of that first year is a bit easy-going for her, then she has time to really settle into boarding school life, or to do some extra reading for whatever she might be interested in for a degree, or whatever.
Being a bit older won't make any difference IMO. DD1 repeated lower 6th. She left the school she was at for college. It was much better both for teaching and for her personally. She has an October birthday so one of the older ones anyway. She started university a few weeks before her 20th birthday. Hasn't been an issue for her.
Some state 6th form colleges here (maybe even all of them) take overseas students. Fees are much cheaper than boarding school and they can apply for accommodation with host families. It would go against the advice given by happygardening, but it would depend on the student. I know DD1 would have been perfectly happy to do that and would have found lots of activities to join.
Another possibility is an independent sixth form college. DS2 attended one in Cambridge: CCSS. These colleges are not crammers, but provide standard A Level courses for a mixture of students (home and foreign) who are not necessarily the "correct" school year.
His college provided small classes, but all the usual sixth form activities - Duke of Edinburgh Award, sports afternoon (playing in local college leagues), college trips etc.
About half of the students boarded.
I doubt whether the age difference will be important because there are so many sixth formers out of year for some reason or another and loads of people take a gap year before uni. But I would be more concerned about her motivation for going "home" for sixth form.
How long have you been in Australia? Is she really homesick as such? Or is she idealising "back home"? Does she have friends/family members already boarding in UK? Does she understand what she is letting herself in for? I ask because if sixth form boarding does not meet her expectations, UK will be a long way from home.
UptheRhine -DH and I have the same worries as we moved here when she was in primary school. She does have friends (but not full boarders) there as we go back a lot, and we were back for several months last year, but it certainly is a long way if it doesn't live up to expectations. She has said that she'll be homesick wherever she goes because of growing up in two countries but still wants to go back.
We're also worried that moving countries half way through school will be disruptive and difficult.
Will going to school /college in the Uzk "cure" the homesickness given Her home will still be in Australia? And won't she be an overseas student for Uni and therefore have to pay ££££? What precisely is it she feels she's missing out on or is it a case of greener grass? I know that teens are fickle, capricious and prone to making decisions based on flimsy "evidence" (if at all). Given the money involved if nothing else you need to really drill down on what it is she wants and the potential implications for you all.
She has been quite keen on boarding school for a while because she thinks it will give her more time to study + do school sport (probably true as she spends 3 hrs travelling at the moment) so I don't think it's just the country.
We're more worried that the change of country just for sixth form will be disruptive.
So going halfway round the world in order to do more sport and homework? You know that sounds crazy don't you? Aren't there boarding schools in Aus or even NZ or somewhere closer like Singapore?
I had glandular fever and repeated my first year of Sixth Form. Independent sector and my HT recommended.
Not an issue going to uni at nearly 19 - lots of people did gap years; however, does she want to do another 2 years of school? Does she want to do a gap year? If she does, would she be happy going to Uni at 20.
One option would be to finish school in Australia, but then come over to the UK effectively for a gap year.
It's a big change to not only go into boarding, but other side of the world. I think if it was my teenager I would say they needed to finish school in Australia and money saved on fees can be used to help fund Gap Year and also holidays back in UK.
Thanks for the advice everyone! Yes, she is also considering going to the UK for a gap year and going to the UK for postgraduate university.
At the moment though we're mostly worried about whether 17 is too old to start sixth form and whether it will be educationally disruptive.
No it is not too old. Lots of overseas students will be that age. I would try boarding in Austalia where I know there are top class boarding schools. South African boarding schools are much cheaper of course. Presumably she has guardians for the exeats in the UK but that won't really connect with previous friends, unless they are in the same locality. Would it be you, OP? Also, in many schools, even full boarding schoos, the 6th form get more of these than other students. Personally I would do the gap year here and then decide on university after that.
Post grad is a long way off - assuming you mean after an undergraduate degree. I also agree that boarding should be 1-1.5 hours drive away from the guardians. I think, though, that boarding here could be a bit extreme to meet the need for sport. An Australian school would definitely meet this requirement! How does the Australian curriculum dovetail with our A levels or Baccalaureate? This may also influence choice of school.
What about Marlborough College Malaysia not as far away as the UK, owned and run by the UK school (not a franchise) some of their UK staff run it, just a thought.
Reading the other thread going at the moment, have you thought about finance? If she does sixthform in the UK and then goes back to Oz for her UG degree what does that do to eligibility and entitlements for funding?
Or will she stay in the UK for her UG degree? If you have a time-delay because of the mismatch in academic years going from Oz->UK for sixthform, you are going to have the same in reverse when she does UK->Oz for UG.
I'm loving the idea that the UK would be better for sport than Australia. That must be a first!
Senua - I was under the impression that if a child is in the UK for the purpose of receiving an education, and the parents remain resident outside the EU, that time does not count for the three year home student rule - so overseas fees remain payable.
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