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Moving back to uk after 3 years in Melbourne - HELP!!

(27 Posts)
melbournesunshine1 Wed 20-Jul-16 11:58:37

Hello. I was wondering if anyone has been in a similar situation - my Aussie husband has been offered a great job back in London after over 3 years in Melbourne. I have just-turned 12 year old DS/DD twins - they are Year 6 in Oz but would be in Year 8 in UK September according to age. They are now thriving in their private school here (nearly 50% of kids go to fee paying schools) and the reservations I had about the quality of education here are diminishing slightly. And they love all the sport and co-curricular which form a really important part of school life here. And here are plenty of professional, happy Aussies around. However, I still feel that the UK offers a greater depth of education and while both kids are 'academic' (aren't they all!) my son is particularly driven . But I am feeling really torn about dragging them out of a school where they have been comfortable for 2.5 years after a torrid time in a government school. Australia is lovely but my heart is in the UK despite not having a real affinity with a particular location. I miss my parents and relatives dreadfully. We have moved around the UK spending time in SW London and Warwickshire and I am really struggling with how to find schools, especially now the holidays have started. it's all happening very quickly and we were put in touch with an education relocation 'expert', but she said it would be impossible to find a state school without an address and actually being in the country (I knew that) and when I researched a few of the fee paying schools that she mentioned there was little praise for them on here or other forums! I don't have a huge pool of friends to ask for advice - most of their DC are at grammar schools that we won't be eligible for. And I'm wary of broadcasting that we have the opportunity to come back because my parents would be devastated if they knew we turned it down. Has anyone successfully moved in a similar situation? Or any pitfalls to be wary off? Or any excellent education consultants? I now have less than a week to make the decision and I am feeling permanently sick about it. I know I'm so fortunate to have these choices but I feel very overwhelmed. Our life is easy here - we live by the beach, husband's work is close by, great food and sunshine, and I know that UK would mean lots more homework and likely to involve much commuting. Any thoughts gratefully received.

catslife Wed 20-Jul-16 15:13:29

Do you all have to move at the same time?
If it's possible I would suggest is that rather than uprooting the dcs now, your OH comes over to the UK to try the job out and see if he can cope with commuting etc while they finish the school year in Australia.
At the beginning of September when schools are back you can start looking at schools again. It would be possible for the dcs to start a new school in January and many schools would be used to pupils from southern hemisphere countries doing this.
The trouble about on-line school reviews is that it tends to be parents that are unhappy or whose children have had a bad experience that post whereas the silent majority who are happy don't post anything if you see what I mean so don't get too worried about this.
Hope this helps you reach a decision.

bojorojo Wed 20-Jul-16 16:16:27

Some independent schools will have places. You could do your own research regarding where may be available. They may even have someone in the office answering the phones or emails. If you name the school's you may get a more even handed response on here. There are brilliant schools in Warwick for example. London will be more competitive.

An Australian Mum I knew years ago, when our DDs were at prep school, delighted in telling the rest of us how far ahead Australian children were! This was at a school where scholarships to Wycombe Abbey and CLC were expected and regularly achieved and there were lots of high achieving children. So, don't worry. There will be a suitable school with vacancies but where are you thinking of living?

Traalaa Wed 20-Jul-16 18:16:04

A friend of mine moved not so long ago - similar circumstances, so back to London but from Canada. The problem with London is a shortage of school places, but having said that it didn't take them too long to find him a place at a school they wanted. This was state as they weren't interested in private and the system's tricky, as you can't apply for a state school until you've actually moved.

With them, it felt really precarious and was exacerbated by him loving his Canadian school. He's now flying here and really loves his school. She told me the other night in the pub that it was the best move she's ever made.

Go for it. You might have a bumpy time at first, but it will work out.

TheSecondOfHerName Wed 20-Jul-16 19:26:32

I also have boy/girl twins who have just turned 12. smile

In terms of the structure of education in the UK, the best time to move would be within the next 12 months. Entering the system at any point during Year 8 is fine. Some schools have three-year GCSE courses starting at the beginning of Year 9, others do two-year GCSE courses starting at the beginning of Year 10. I wouldn't recommend moving any student into the system part-way through GCSE courses.

melbournesunshine1 Wed 20-Jul-16 22:19:09

Just a very brief thank you to you all - different time zones! I felt a huge sense of relief when i woke and saw i had a few replies. I'
ll read and respond properly a bit later, but thank you , thank you, thank you.

melbournesunshine1 Thu 21-Jul-16 06:29:43

Thank you again. I've had time to absorb your thoughts today and feel a bit calmer. I watched people from afar get caught up in 11+ and entrance exams and felt quite grateful I was away from that - Australian schools are not academically selective. I counselled my friends that they were lucky in Warwickshire to have great schools on the whole, and that everything would work out. I guess I need to take a step back a bit. I suppose underlying everything is whether we should move back to UK when we are finally on an even keel. We have moved every 3/4 years with the children (husband's work changes and new job is in diff location) and every time we move I find it gut wrenching and grieve for the life we left behind. I'm not sure that I'm ready for the music to stop over here though...

Anyway, you kind people have reinforced that fact that I need to make a decision and if we are going to move the kids it need's to be sooner rather than later. So it's life in Melbourne, by the beach and v short commute and easy school but without my support network and so far away from home, back to Warks where children see as their home but with prospect of husband living away all week but schools slightly easier, or SW London (where we still have a house) but would be socially starting again and schools more expensive if I need to go down private route. Yikes, first time I have written that down.

MysteriesOfTheOrganism Thu 21-Jul-16 06:37:47

Our life is easy here - we live by the beach, husband's work is close by, great food and sunshine, and I know that UK would mean lots more homework and likely to involve much commuting.

Personally I think you'd be crazy to return. Your quality of life would nosedive. Why would you want that? I mean, seriously?

melbournesunshine1 Thu 21-Jul-16 07:26:14

Ha, loneliness is a biggie, Mysteries! I have some lovely friends but many are slowly drifting back to Europe, for schools, friends, family. It is also very expensive here. Aussies friends are great but an incredibly cliquey lot, far more than in the UK. The sense of never quite belonging is prevalent, and that's with Aussie husband and Aussie sounding children by now!

Kahlua4me Thu 21-Jul-16 07:34:04

Whereabouts in London will your husband be working?
That may be a good starting point for a school search. Perhaps you could work out a commutable distance/radius that you are both happy with and then look for areas to live and what schools are around there.

MysteriesOfTheOrganism Thu 21-Jul-16 07:34:08

Ah well, whatever floats your boat. In the last couple of days we've had decent weather (sunshine and warmth) for the first effing time this year. TBH, friends or sunshine? No bloody contest grin

melbournesunshine1 Thu 21-Jul-16 07:50:44

Kahlua4me Husband will be based Central / West London. I have been looking at commutes and then just feel overwhelmed and set it all aside again. I guess starting over at he age of 45 id daunting, and I know now that the kids start secondary school there won't be the meeting at the school gate thing that has helped me make friends. I have thought about Bucks, Oxfordshire, so not a million miles away from Warks, but unsure where to start.

MysteriesOfTheOrganism You make me laugh! The pragmatist inside says 'get over yourself, enjoy what you have, and stop being a whinging pom'

Simmi1 Thu 21-Jul-16 08:02:56

Very jealous OP. We moved from London to Melbourne 7 months ago and I'm missing home dreadfully. My husband is Aussie and my kids are still tiny so no school issues quite yet. Good luck!

Kahlua4me Thu 21-Jul-16 08:04:05

Both of them are good so it would be hard to narrow it down.
What about time of commute? If going by train, look at stations and the travelling time to the one he needs in London. We live in Berkshire and schools are excellent here. It takes about an hour to get from our station into Waterloo for example.

Is this move likely to be a permanent one for your dh or will he be relocated back to Oz in a few years time? And is he happy to move?

Mov1ngOn Thu 21-Jul-16 08:08:54

It's the perfect time to move in terms of our system with gcse's. What does your husband think - is he desperate to move for the job? (not that he gets to decide but it could influence the decision!)

Id prefer an English education at secondary (possibly an aussie one at primary compared to the pressure now over here.)

We had the chance to go to Melbourne but stayed here in the end. We're not in your income bracket though!! We did the husband away mon-fri thing for a bit and I hated it.

melbournesunshine1 Thu 21-Jul-16 10:30:21

Simmi1 Melbourne is great, but it does take a little while to settle in. Message me if you need any help or advice.

Kahlua4me I grew up in Berks and schools are great. Husband not a fan of Berks, maybe because my parents are there! Bucks is a little daunting because of grammar schools, and I love Oxford but know little about schools. You are right, need to get husband to think through commuting properly.

Mov1ngOn Husband would be happy to stay in Melbourne but really keen on UK job and feels that career wise UK is better in his circumstances. So I guess tat he is a bit torn, but ultimately Melbourne is his home and, unusually for a chap sometimes, he has a really strong tight knit group of school friends here. I hope your decision to stay put worked out for you - I'm sure it has. I believe whatever decision you make (as long as you had the chance to make it yourself) is the right one!

Mov1ngOn Thu 21-Jul-16 10:38:56

We're the opposite in that my aussie husband prefers the UK (politically until recently, culturally etc - but he didn't have a tight knit network of friends.) I found London difficult though (community but also we didn't have a London income - we did muse we might prefer Melbourne over London in terms of ease/cleanliness etc and ended up UK but not London. We still visit Oz).

We're really happy here and having been there appreciate the little things here even more ( we like that we don't have to drive an hour to get out of town and find somewhere to camp, love walking and all the English countryside and villages and variety etc.)

I don't think there's a right answer like you say, just right for you. I suspect education wise with switched on parents neither system would fail the children so you need to look at the bigger picture of where you both want to be then sort the details. Huge decision though as either way their will be downsides as well as up! Good luck.

Mov1ngOn Thu 21-Jul-16 10:40:30

Arg so many autocorrect issues in that post. hangs head in shame

Bobochic Thu 21-Jul-16 15:04:48

How about Canterbury in Kent? You woukd get places at Kent College for your twins.

PettsWoodParadise Thu 21-Jul-16 18:47:57

I can recommend the London Kent borders. Petts Wood and Orpington in the London Borough of Bromley have great schools. Our DD went private for junior but is grammar for secondary - in-year places do crop up at the grammars so look up Newstead Wood (girls) and St Olaves (boys) or if you wanted co-ed there is Chisleshurst and Sidcup grammar or general comprehensive you have Co-Ed Darrick Wood - the closer you are to the school the quicker you move up the list. For private schools you'll be looking at about £17 to £20k a year for a day place. Bromley High for girls and Eltham College are popular academic options in our area but there are lots of other choices. If you want an international choice Sevenoaks school do the IB, is co-ed and has a major intake into Y9.

underneaththeash Thu 21-Jul-16 21:17:30

Since you're not limited to a particular area, could you not choose where to live based on which school you think fits your children? Some of the non-academic staff are around in the independent schools through the Ho,I days, you could take them out of their current schools now and spend a couple of weeks deciding where to go with the children and then spending time finding a house.

I've been impressed with berkhamstead school, but there are loads of excellent schools around London).

mummytime Thu 21-Jul-16 23:19:46

Umm I'd also suggest looking at Surrey, as Sureey LA (not the London boroughs) is totally Comprehensive, but has very good results as a whole. Some schools have an excellent record of Oxbridge entry for example. There are also excellent private schools, but do cost at least £15000 each child, and may increase by 5% a year.

melbournesunshine1 Fri 22-Jul-16 01:14:05

Thank you all so much for taking the time to reply - I am quite overwhelmed by all your consideration.

Mov1ngOn I guess you understand our situation - as a family we always say that we have 'two homes' but it isn't as straightforward as that!

PettsWoodParadise Bobochic I don't know Kent at all but it does seem a lovely part of the world. My only reservation is that we have a small family house in Cornwall where we used to spend a lot of time and its probably a tricky journey.

underneaththeash that is a great idea but I haven't told the kids we are likely to be moving and I am trying to let them relax and enjoy their yer with as little disruption as possible. Although I think I probably do need to start talking to them. What i don't know is how to work out what school is 'right' for them. I feel like I'm grovelling just to get them the opportunity to have a place!

mummytime thanks for thinking of surrey, id forgotten it was all comps...

KickAssAngel Fri 22-Jul-16 02:01:07

I've never been to Australia so don't know how it compares, but I live in the US, and I'm shocked when I go back home to the UK. My family all live in Kent and it is SO busy, crowded, expensive and dirty. We moved away 8 years ago and every time I go home it's a culture shock for me. It has definitely got more crowded since we moved away.

Also - we just spent two weeks in the UK and it rained almost every day. When it wasn't raining it was cold. I'm used to summers being warm and spent outside.

Having said that - I know what you mean about how settled you feel. I've lived her 8 years, got a great job. DD feels like this is home etc etc, but when we go back to the UK I suddenly feel more like I'm home & settled in.

SaltyMyDear Fri 22-Jul-16 04:17:11

I think you might be able to get a grammar place for your DC in bucks. Not all the grammars there are full.

Because it's a fully selective county there are enough places for everyone.

If you don't move in the next 12 months you really need to stay in Oz till they finish school.

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