Author Topic: Moving to Cambridge - questions about UK Secondary schools  (Read 518 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline redtulips123

  • *
  • Posts: 4
  • Joined: Jan 2017
  • Liked: 0
Moving to Cambridge - questions about UK Secondary schools
« on: January 31, 2017, 08:42:25 PM »
Hi, first post. This looks like a great forum!
We are moving from WA State to Cambridge with 3 kids this summer for a job transfer.  DH and all the kids are dual citizens.  We don't know how long - it would depend on how well things go.  2 years at minimum - we might even stay in UK if it works out.  We have a lot of family and friends in London.
It's an enormous move for our family (as I'm sure you all know), but honestly, the biggest worry I have is the school situation. We have a smart, outgoing 7th grade boy (-->Y9). Also an anxious, but very organized and diligent 5th grade girl who loves playing select girls soccer, which I understand is not nearly as big of a sport in UK (for girls), but perhaps growing?  And finally, a 2nd grade boy, who we're not really worried about- he's a smart, flexible kid who can't wait to get a British accent.
The kids are all in a private school in the US, and we assumed we could put them in independent schools in Cambridge. 

I'm just wondering what kinds of experiences people have had moving to the UK at Y7 and Y9?

DS (going into Y9) -- independent secondary looks highly unlikely to be an option for him, as we have just missed the application deadlines for the only 2 private secondaries that take boys (The Perse and The Leys), and they don't expect to have any more places....  we would have to look outside of Cambridge.  We should get an Education Consultant with the job transfer - maybe they can find another option...

DD (going into Y7) - we may be able to get a spot for her a local private girls school, which sounds like it could be a great fit for her (St Mary's), but I'm just worried about moving her into the UK system in general. She is an anxious one.... She is super diligent in school, but she does not do particularly well on standardized testing, so I worry that a system based on standardized testing (GCSE, A-Levels) would not be the best system in general for her. Part of it is fact that she gets so nervous for exams if she can't study for them - I think she sort of shuts down and just guesses. However, she aces classroom exams that cover materials she learns in class -- the American type of exams.  Am I overthinking this?  Such a shame to pull her out of school where she gets straight A's and throw her into the great unknown.... I have no idea how she will handle the move -- she likes everything planned out with no surprises....  If she could at least play on a girls soccer team, that would ease the transition, I think. 

One other thought - I was wondering if we should try to put DD in Y6? She has end of summer birthday anyway, and if the UK curriculum is ahead of US, maybe that would help?  For her to move to another country, and all the sudden be way behind in everything, could just be too much for her to take in at once... Do they even allow this -- I think they are much stricter than in the US. Where we live now, most of the kids with summer birthdays are the oldest in their classes.

Thanks!
RedT


Offline historyenne

  • erstwhile vespa girl
  • *
  • Posts: 5949
  • Joined: Nov 2008
  • Location: Baku, Azerbaijan
  • Gender: Female
  • Britannicaine
  • Liked: 136
Re: Moving to Cambridge - questions about UK Secondary schools
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2017, 12:12:50 AM »
It sounds like the education consultant might be a good idea.

FWIW, and I'm not 100% on this as I didn't go to school in the UK, but I don't think that GCSEs and A-levels are standardised tests in the sense that Americans think of standardised tests. They are subject based essay tests and your daughter's classes should prepare her for them.
On s'envolera du même quai
Les yeux dans les mêmes reflets,
Pour cette vie et celle d'après
Tu seras mon unique projet.

Je t'aimais, je t'aime, et je t'aimerai.

--Francis Cabrel

Offline Flibbertigibbet

  • *
  • Posts: 36
  • Joined: Apr 2009
  • Liked: 4
Re: Moving to Cambridge - questions about UK Secondary schools
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2017, 11:16:19 AM »
I did go to school in the UK (though some time ago!) and can confirm that in my experience both GCSEs and A Levels are exams based on material covered in class, plus sometimes an element of coursework (depending on the subject). I don't think that aspect has changed. Schools have a syllabus to follow, to ensure that subject matters that will feature in the exams are covered. I believe some A levels are now taken on a modular basis as well now (so rather than one final exam, there are a series of exams taken at the end of each module over the 2 years of the course). I should also note that there is an element of choice over what GCSE subjects you take (I believe some core subjects are mandatory), and A Levels is a completely free choice (though one should have an eye to what one wants to do next - i.e. career and/or degree subject when selecting those).

I'm not familiar with the term 'standardised testing' however, so am not sure if this is what you mean. Whilst GCSEs and A Levels are set by exam boards so everyone does the same exam (ish - they differ by exam board), they are supposed to have a correlation to the subject matter that has been taught.

It might be helpful to discuss this kind of thing with the career advisor at any schools you may be considering?

Offline writeshawnna

  • *
  • Posts: 478
  • Joined: Aug 2014
  • Location: Burton Green, Coventry
  • Gender: Female
  • Liked: 51
Re: Moving to Cambridge - questions about UK Secondary schools
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2017, 11:39:40 AM »
One other thought - I was wondering if we should try to put DD in Y6? She has end of summer birthday anyway, and if the UK curriculum is ahead of US, maybe that would help?  For her to move to another country, and all the sudden be way behind in everything, could just be too much for her to take in at once... Do they even allow this -- I think they are much stricter than in the US. Where we live now, most of the kids with summer birthdays are the oldest in their classes.

I think you would have a hard time getting this approved through school council. When I moved with my 5yo twins, the council insisted we start them in Reception because they were 5, even though they missed all but 2 months of the year. Because they were twins and boys, and missed the cut off where I lived in AZ (cut off was 1st day of Aug for Kinder), they wouldn't have started K in the US until they were almost 6 (September bdays), but when we moved, we HAD to put them in school, even though they didn't start until end of April and school as out mid-July. So they basically missed all of Reception here and then spent a year playing catch up in Y1.

I would guess that you will HAVE to start DD in Y7, unless you petition the council, and then there would be no guarantees there.
Met at Disneyland Paris: spring 1995
Dated long distance: off & on 2008-2014
Our twin boys were born: Sep 2009
Engaged: Oct 10, 2014
Married: December 5, 2014
Online Application & paid PRIORITY Submitted: Dec 22, 2014
Visa Received: Jan 14, 2015
Arrived in the UK: Feb 28, 2015
FLR(M) application mailed: Sep 12, 2017

Offline stargazer

  • *
  • Posts: 132
  • Joined: Feb 2016
  • Location: London
  • Gender: Female
  • Liked: 2
Re: Moving to Cambridge - questions about UK Secondary schools
« Reply #4 on: February 08, 2017, 06:51:32 PM »
Hi! We moved to London this summer with two kids, one in year 8  and one in year 5. The youngest, a boy, got into our first choice state school right away. It's hard to get into this school but they had places in his year, we live close to it, and it gives priority to Anglicans, which we are. Our oldest, a girl, had no school at the beginning of the school year. Finally they assigned her a school but it had a low Ofsted rating. Instead, I homeschooled, made an appeal for a school which was rejected, and finally she got a place at a state girls' school in December. The atmosphere was difficult for her, rather chaotic and not nearly strict enough. Finally over the Christmas break, a place opened up in year 8 at our first choice school for her, and again, it was our Anglicanism that opened that door.

Anyway, Cambridge is not London but I feel like it's hard to get into the best state schools when it's not a normal entry point. However, as happened with our son, it is possible! Not sure about private, I contacted a few, knowing we would need a bursary if accepted, but they had no places.

I did google and saw that Cambridge has an international school. I would also ask your question on the Mumsnet forums as well as search for school Ofsted reports.

We are very happy with how it all turned out for us, but the system is stressful when you have to wait for a place you feel good about. if your DD is going into year 7, that should be easier as it is the normal transition to secondary. The sooner you can apply, the better. Do you have an address yet?
« Last Edit: February 08, 2017, 06:56:05 PM by stargazer »

Offline physicskate

  • *
  • Posts: 684
  • Joined: Oct 2012
  • Location: York
  • Gender: Female
  • Liked: 67
Re: Moving to Cambridge - questions about UK Secondary schools
« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2017, 10:01:43 PM »
Hi, first post. This looks like a great forum!
We are moving from WA State to Cambridge with 3 kids this summer for a job transfer.  DH and all the kids are dual citizens.  We don't know how long - it would depend on how well things go.  2 years at minimum - we might even stay in UK if it works out.  We have a lot of family and friends in London.
It's an enormous move for our family (as I'm sure you all know), but honestly, the biggest worry I have is the school situation. We have a smart, outgoing 7th grade boy (-->Y9). Also an anxious, but very organized and diligent 5th grade girl who loves playing select girls soccer, which I understand is not nearly as big of a sport in UK (for girls), but perhaps growing?  And finally, a 2nd grade boy, who we're not really worried about- he's a smart, flexible kid who can't wait to get a British accent.
The kids are all in a private school in the US, and we assumed we could put them in independent schools in Cambridge. 

I'm just wondering what kinds of experiences people have had moving to the UK at Y7 and Y9?

DS (going into Y9) -- independent secondary looks highly unlikely to be an option for him, as we have just missed the application deadlines for the only 2 private secondaries that take boys (The Perse and The Leys), and they don't expect to have any more places....  we would have to look outside of Cambridge.  We should get an Education Consultant with the job transfer - maybe they can find another option...

DD (going into Y7) - we may be able to get a spot for her a local private girls school, which sounds like it could be a great fit for her (St Mary's), but I'm just worried about moving her into the UK system in general. She is an anxious one.... She is super diligent in school, but she does not do particularly well on standardized testing, so I worry that a system based on standardized testing (GCSE, A-Levels) would not be the best system in general for her. Part of it is fact that she gets so nervous for exams if she can't study for them - I think she sort of shuts down and just guesses. However, she aces classroom exams that cover materials she learns in class -- the American type of exams.  Am I overthinking this?  Such a shame to pull her out of school where she gets straight A's and throw her into the great unknown.... I have no idea how she will handle the move -- she likes everything planned out with no surprises....  If she could at least play on a girls soccer team, that would ease the transition, I think. 

One other thought - I was wondering if we should try to put DD in Y6? She has end of summer birthday anyway, and if the UK curriculum is ahead of US, maybe that would help?  For her to move to another country, and all the sudden be way behind in everything, could just be too much for her to take in at once... Do they even allow this -- I think they are much stricter than in the US. Where we live now, most of the kids with summer birthdays are the oldest in their classes.

Thanks!
RedT

Starting in Year 7 is totally natural as that is when secondary schools start. Would not recommend trying to start in Year 6 as this is a hot house year as the end of primary school and friendship groups will be pretty set.

GCSEs (and A Levels) are exams based on content set by an exam board, and thus the teacher will 'teach' to the syllabus to be covered by the test. GCSEs and A Levels are or have changed in the last couple years. They will all be linear (assessed at the end of a two year course). They are also far more rigorous than even a couple years ago. In theory, this means better access to A Levels, in practice it means extremely low grade boundaries and demoralised kids - but hey ho, I didn't plan it this way (thank you Michael Gove)....

Many schools are planning to teach at least some GCSE subjects starting in Year 9 - so get ready for that!

You can of course look outside of Cambridge; there are loads on Indys in the South.
BTW - I'm a secondary school Physics teacher (at an Indy)...
2004-2008: Student Visa
2008-2010: Tier 1 PSW
2010-2011: Tier 4
2011-2014: Tier 2
2013-2016: New Tier 2 (changed jobs)
16/12/15: SET (LR) successful! - It's been a long road...
12/05/16: Citizenship ceremony!