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(22 Posts)
heidi415 Sat 15-Oct-16 18:30:17

We are a British family and have been living in California for 22 years. We have two daughters aged nearly 15 and 13 (Nov & Dec birthdays). We like living near the water. We are looking for good schools near the Gloucestershire, Bristol, Bath area. We are more concerned with the girls happiness first and settling into a british way of life but a good education would be a plus. Any recommendations for us? (I noticed I've put a lot of 'we ares' in this - sorry!)

moomoo222 Sat 15-Oct-16 18:43:59

What kind of water, presuming not the sea if its Bath/Gloucesteshire areas, so canals or rivers? Also are you looking at state or private as that will make a massive difference to any recommendations you get? Are you city of country people & do you need to be anywhere/travel anywhere for work?! Lots of questions...just think there is a world of difference between the rural and city lives in the West Country, also budget for housing will make a difference, if you are wanting to buy in Bath for example you'll need some serious capital!

meditrina Sat 15-Oct-16 18:46:06

What sort of features do you and your DDs appreciate in a school?

And state or private?

heidi415 Sat 15-Oct-16 18:51:10

Thank you moomoo222. Preferably the sea but, as you say, B/G canals, rivers, lakes. We are open to other areas as we have family in Leicestershire, Devon, London, West & East Sussex so need to be not too too far from them. Also, we like to head up to Scotland. Looking at private schools. We are not city people. Given the girls' ages we need to be fairly close to a city/major town. Airport would be handy. Just need to find the right school to fit our girls - co-ed pref.

lljkk Sat 15-Oct-16 18:59:30

that's gonna be almighty culture shock for the girls.
When will you move, will they do GCSEs or IB?

TheSecondOfHerName Sat 15-Oct-16 19:39:39

I have children in the same school years as your daughters (Year 10 and Year 8). Joining Y8 should be fine. If the eldest is planning to do GCSE exams in May/June 2018 then joining part of the way through Y10 is going to be hard as they've already started the courses. My son started his GCSE courses at the beginning of Y9 and for many subjects he has covered nearly half of the material already.

I would recommend going for a school with a two-year KS4 (this means that the GCSE courses start at the beginning of Y10 rather than the beginning of Y9) and then getting a tutor to try to cover the work she has missed.

heidi415 Sat 15-Oct-16 22:34:53

Thank you, I appreciate all the information. It will be a complete shock for us but we are not happy with the American teenage 'culture' here.

lljkk Sun 16-Oct-16 08:21:38

are you sure English teen culture is that much better? Oh well, best of luck. x

homebythesea Sun 16-Oct-16 09:00:45

Seems a bit of an extreme way to protect your girls from a teen culture which honestly is not that different here (have friends who have just gone to Cali with similar age girls, their lives, cultural references, pastimes etc really not changed from what they were doing in the UK). And your older girl will probably not qualify as a domestic student for higher education purposes which is something to consider. Also will you qualify for work visas etc having been away so long? What's your budget? Yiu will know that property varies vastly

It's not a good time to move for your older girl as pp have said. I've often heard that US kids are however somewhat behind their UK counterparts and this may well be amplified in a private school so you might consider going down a year (but with social implications especially with girls).

Sorry to be so negative but honestly I think it wouid have to be really bad in Cali to make me want to move my kids to an entirely different culture (and climate) at this stage of their lives. I'd be considering what we coukd do to avoid the issues yiu are concerned about first

moomoo222 Sun 16-Oct-16 09:39:23

Well Bath is lovely and really well positioned for everywhere you want to be accessible to. The Independent schools by all accounts are great (as are most of the state schools - but the good ones are near impossible to get into 'in year' as they are constantly oversubscribed!).

Moving into a GCSE curriculum which is well underway could be challenging, but presumably with smaller class sizes etc if you discuss how much extra help you'll get then it's doable, however will get harder the further you get into the school year and really difficult if you wait until the exam year.

My understanding is that most of them have only started their options in Year 10. If Bath and surrounding areas is of interest there is a brilliant website called 'bathmums' where your school questions will have been asked many times before - worth a search on there to see if there is anything recent/posting on there.

I would say that unfortunately teen culture is terrifying here too - things have changed so much since we were young and anxiety ridden social media doesn't help, plus 'sex, drugs and rock'n'roll' haven't changed, just started younger (no matter how expensive the school!). Also the bullying culture, despite a lot of attempts at heightening awareness/offering support by the government/schools is still rife. Might be worth researching what it is that is concerning you there (although if you are just wanting to come home that's fair enough, just might be a bit frying pan/fire!!). HTH though & good luck with it.

Shurelyshomemistake Sun 16-Oct-16 09:46:16

One thing to also consider is, is the youngest planning to go to uni straight from school? Do you have right of abode in the UK?

You need to have been resident in uk for 3 years prior to starting HE to have entitlement to lower 'home' uni fees and student loans.

Shurelyshomemistake Sun 16-Oct-16 09:46:52

Is your oldest! Not youngest. Sorry!

MyNightWithMaud Sun 16-Oct-16 09:51:32

Can't help with the school suggestions, but if the parents and children are British Citizens they will have right of abode and talk of work visas is completely irrelevant. If there's any doubt, OP should consult an immigration adviser.

flowerflaps Sun 16-Oct-16 09:53:25

Zodlebud Sun 16-Oct-16 10:26:34

I would look at Exeter in Devon. Small city only a ten to fifteen minute drive to the beach. A range of decent schools, both state and independent - my knowledge is out of date as it's been fifteen years since I lived there. Major plus is that Exeter also has an airport which connects to many other UK airports as well as a few international destinations.

heidi415 Sun 16-Oct-16 18:46:30

Again, thank you all for these suggestions, they have been very helpful, and we have no problem re visas, we are British Citizens, the girls have dual nationality. It's useful to know about the information posted here and we shall go back to the drawing board for the moment.
Thank you all.

ilovegreen Sun 16-Oct-16 19:50:04

Hi, I had a friend in my class from the US who dropped back a year when she came to U.K. so that she could start the first year of G.C.S.E instead of going in with her age cohort. It worked really well - she was cool and smart and fitted in well, but didn't have to worry about the exams the first year, which would have been bad as she might not have covered all the same material.

homebythesea Sun 16-Oct-16 20:10:48


Makes it clear that even UK nationals must have been resident in the U.K. for 3 years prior to going to Uni to qualify for student finance

Shurelyshomemistake Sun 16-Oct-16 20:31:09

Ok, that's good you are british citizens. No problem with remaining then.

Stuff about HE finance and fees still very definitely stands, though. lots of returning expats fall foul of this.

heidi415 Sun 16-Oct-16 21:51:49

Yes, we are very aware of the HE fees, finance etc. grin)

Shurelyshomemistake Sun 16-Oct-16 22:22:42

Sorry, don't want to keep labouring the point. I just know lots of people get a nasty shock.

I think I would be tempted to find school places you like the look of first, and then work backward.

Having said that...
Devon is absolutely beautiful, South Hams especially so.

Somewhere near Bath would be good, Bath is now a vibrant uni town but lots of beautiful houses, lovely shops, restaurants, etc.

Ancienchateau Mon 17-Oct-16 08:55:31

I recommend buying/subscribing to a copy of The Good Schools Guide. If you are planning to go privately, would you consider an international / american school at least until your DD finishes her GCSE year 11? There are plenty of these schools around.

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