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Overseas student joining a UK school just before GCSEs

(52 Posts)
Grevillea Fri 02-Nov-18 04:07:45

Hi there, we're moving to the UK from Australia at the end of the year.

My DD is 15 and is in the last term of Australian Year 9 (school year Jan-Dec 2018). Because her birthday falls at the end of July, the UK schools (and County Council) we've contacted have told us she needs to go into Year 11 - thus skipping Year 10 entirely, plus one term of Year 11.

She will have followed a different curriculum, and although bright, will probably struggle to cram in the new syllabus in just a few months. For example, she's been learning Mandarin as a modern foreign language; she's studied Australian history ...

If we fail to win the argument (and we're running out of time), I'm wondering whether, if she sat GCSEs in Year 11, would she be able to retake any in Year 12? She wants to study law at uni so needs 3 decent A Levels. Does anyone know if students can do three years at 6th form: 1 year for GCSEs and 2 for A Levels?

OP’s posts: |
Peridot1 Fri 02-Nov-18 05:22:37

That’s bonkers. They really can be so inflexible.

I do know that some private schools offer an accelerated Gcse year. A friend’s DS did it at Sherborne which is an independent boarding school. So he did the full two year gcse course over one year.

I’m not sure any 6th form colleges would do GCSEs.

Have they said she definitely couldn’t go into year 10 or that they would expect her to go into year 11?

somewhereovertherain Fri 02-Nov-18 05:27:35

Our friend in a similar situation managed to get dd into year 10 instead. Mad jumping to year 11 I’d think.

ToesInWater Fri 02-Nov-18 05:34:43

Tbh a lot will depend on where she is coming from in Oz and where she is going to in the UK. Personally I would view moving my 15yo DD (also Y9) back to the UK from her fantastic Australian school at this stage in her education as totally screwing any chances of her academic success. However when we moved from the UK to Australia ten years ago it was the best thing we ever did for our then 14yo eldest DS. Do your research carefully.

Grevillea Fri 02-Nov-18 05:35:51

County Council has said Year 11 ("computer says no" to year 10). We've approached 2 state schools - one said flat out Year 11; the other said it Year 11 too, although it said it might be open to discussing Year 10, subject to a place being available (it's currently oversubscribed though).

I've just emailed a private school so fingers crossed ...

OP’s posts: |
Peridot1 Fri 02-Nov-18 05:40:34

Private schools can be more flexible.

flowersWB Fri 02-Nov-18 06:14:17

I work in a private school and we have a couple of Australian students in the years below their ages would put them in, presumably for this exact reason. Although my previous school was an academy (state but not council) and also had an Australian student in the year below her age so it's not a set in stone rule. It's worth contacting specific schools.

somewhereovertherain Fri 02-Nov-18 07:11:52

Our local state school was happy as was best for both school and child. Good luck.

sayyatiddaknini Fri 02-Nov-18 09:15:21

My DS transferred back to UK from a completely different curriculum (and language) in Year 11 and did his GCSEs in a year. He's now in the 6th form doing A levels. He did pretty well in the circumstances (a light sprinkling of As the rest Bs and Cs, now called 8,7,6,5 just to confuse things). But it was extremely difficult. I had to take a year off work to support him. I wouldn't recommend it but it is possible. I would try to push for your DD starting in Year 10. I would bypass the council and speak directly to the schools.

user1981287 Fri 02-Nov-18 09:22:13

Educational suicide. Unless you can get a year 10 start then I wouldn't even be considering this.

user1981287 Fri 02-Nov-18 09:26:46

And poor GCSEs will impact on her A levels which could then pretty much rule out a career in law. Presumably she wants to be a lawyer in the UK?

titchy Fri 02-Nov-18 09:27:45

Why don't you post the rough area you're moving back to so MNers can suggest a private school.

Agree going into year 11 will utterly ruin her educationally so you need private, preferably one used to international students moving in and out.

wwwmummy Fri 02-Nov-18 09:32:28

have you compared the curriculum between UK and AU system? You are not really skipping a year as in the UK children start year 1 at 5 years old, but in AU they start year 1 at 6 years old, and also plus the starting months factor, it makes two years' difference. However, at the end of the day, everyone is going to uni at the age of 18. This wouldn't be a major problem I assume as there are soooo many international students who joined UK system at secondary or higher, they all have to "skip" a year or two comparing to their home country. However I understand pre GCSE would be a sensitive time.

I think, to obtain better support, you might want to go for an independent school, and explain your situation, also get some tutors to make up the gap. I am sure Mandarin is accepted in the UK as a FL, but will need to check with school whether you can register Mandarin exam there.

user1981287 Fri 02-Nov-18 09:33:19

If you absolutely have to do this then I would be pushing for her to take a maximum of 9 GSCEs and would also be cramming lots now before you even move to catch up with the curriculum. Lots of schools will have started GCSE work in year 9 (age 13-14) particularly private schools. DS1 has just started Year 9 and is doing the GSCE work in maths, sciences, languages and english.

I'd also ask for her to opt out of the language (pointless) and instead use that time to work on other subjects. She can then sit the mandarin GSCE exam. Again a private school is far more likely to be able to accommodate this. I am assuming you can afford the private school fees (typically circa 15-20k per year for secondary school)?

pretendingtowork1 Fri 02-Nov-18 09:34:38

Why do you have to move now?

sashh Fri 02-Nov-18 09:59:03

That is probably the worst age for you to move her, but you have probably found that out.

There are a couple of options you could try.

1) private school

2) 1:1 tutor(s) and home educate

3) FE college, they can take students from age 14, it's unusual but not unknown. She might be limited to a level 2 course with a couple of GCSEs or just a couple of GCSEs.

I did teach a VI former who had moved from Poland into year 10 who did get 10 GCSEs but she and the school worked really hard.

4) International school doing IB.

Putting a child in year 11 in January is crazy, GCSEs are 2 year courses and the exams start in May. Sorry you probably know that.

What about 'school of the air'? I believe it is now internet based, could she use that and continue an Australian education?

Good luck with finding a suitable soloution.

Urbanbeetler Fri 02-Nov-18 10:03:06

The state school I teach in would definitely allow her a Year 10 place. I think this is essential. I have taught students coming straight into Year 11 who have done well due to previous areas of study but without doubt, not as well as they would have coming into Yr 10. Additionally, she is a very young Year 11 which can also influence these decisions when they are based around not wanting to put children too far away from their chronological peers.

Try other state schools before committing to huge private school fees.

Witchend Fri 02-Nov-18 10:12:37

I would go back and push. I know at my dc's state school they take children out of year into year 10 for exactly that reason. It's very unusual for any child to be out of year before that, but I'd say 2-4 arrive every year into year 10 from abroad who should be year 11.
Although maybe they're the only school around here that does accept them which is why they get a few?

Soursprout Fri 02-Nov-18 10:47:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ifIonlyknew Fri 02-Nov-18 11:18:00

I do have a success story which might reassure a little bit. When I was at school a child moved from a war torn country and had only learned some English as a second language. She started for the final year of GCSEs having never studied in English or those subjects. She passed 7 I think if I remember right, went on to do A-Levels, did very well and then uni. Now obviously this wouldn't always be the case but it does show a move at this time doesn't have to be a disaster.

My suggestion would be to get hold of GCSE revision books (Letts or something similar) for core subjects. So maths, English language, English literature and science. that is 4 GCSEs. I don't believe the difference in a subject like geography would be that great between Australia and here to be honest so if she has been studying that or business then perhaps look into those. You need to pick subjects carefully and target catch up work carefully. Schools can be most unflexible if they are not private so perhaps you could consider home schooling her and entering her for some GCSEs through a sixth form college? Worth contacting some locally to where you are moving and ask. If you could just concentrate on core subjects to get going and then perhaps she could do some more GCSEs when in first year sixth form? What subjects would she be hoping to do at A-Level to go on and do law? Mandarin is not common here for a language but you could certainly get her entered privately for the GCSE. Most state schools and sixth form colleges are used to entering children in GCSE for their native language and there are plenty of Mandarin speakers in the UK. If she needs tutoring for it then contact your local chinese community when you move and I am sure someone will be happy to provide tutoring, quite probably to a higher standard. We have a local secondary school here who offer it at GCSE anyway so don't rule it out.

Do they get any sort of qualification in Australia at the end of next year? if she was able to stay there with friends for example to finish the next school year would that make a difference in terms of transferring over here, so although she would still have to play catch up to start A-Levels she would have a certificate to show for her education in Australia which could help when it comes to Uni applications?

I would just say don't panic. if you have to move now then you have to move now, it won't screw up her future but it will be harder for her than it would have been in different circumstances. With careful planning and targetted work I am sure she will go on to do very well.

pretendingtowork1 Fri 02-Nov-18 13:09:06

If you're moving for work, could one of you stay in oz with her and she comes over to start sixth form?

BubblesBuddy Fri 02-Nov-18 15:18:15

I would try and stay in Australia and complete her exams there. Move to 6th form here and go private. I wouldn’t move her straight into y11.

Tinty Fri 02-Nov-18 15:28:16

In my area they have just let a 15 year old from New Zealand start in Year 10. I would definitely approach different schools. I think academies are allowed to decide on school years without council input. At least the one in our area allowed it anyway.

Or as a PP says she could go to a further education college instead but there will be more older DC there.

hubby Fri 02-Nov-18 18:33:35

I am surprised your daughter is being allowed to join year 11 - speak to actual admission officers of schools rather than receptionists.

user1981287 Fri 02-Nov-18 18:46:23

Id be postponing the move until a better time

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