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UK Schooling - Thinking of returning back to UK

Here's where to discuss the practicalities and issues involved in moving back to the UK.

UK Schooling - Thinking of returning back to UK

Postby mnoj » Wed 11 Sep 2013 04:31 GMT

I have been working in Canada (BC) since 2008 and now my eldest child is in Grade 7 this year (2013-14). The project that I have been working on is due to end early next year.

Although, I could easily find other employment opportunities in Canada due to family commitments of aging parents (although not pressing right now) I am considering returning back. One of the factors I want to keep in mind is changing of schools and since here in Canada kids move to high school after Grade7 the school change is inevitable.

The question I would like to ask others who may have been in a similar situation to us, is if we could remain in Canada for another 2-3yrs or if possible until Grade 10 - I am wondering what the drawbacks (if any) or implications of joining the UK secondary school system in terms of GCSE and A/AS level.

My thinking was if we return back next year my daughter can start in high school in 1st form (Grade8) she would need to change only one school and progress through the UK education system, whereas if we were to delay our return until Grade 10 (Canada) then it could be a disadvantage in terms of doing 5th/6th form A Levels.

Any input will be greatly appreciated.
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Postby JJ » Wed 11 Sep 2013 08:49 GMT

Welcome to the forum mnoj. It's probably best to talk about children's ages rather than school years or grades as it could get confusing. For instance the first year of high school in the UK is known as year 7 and A-Levels are taken in the sixth form (two years, effectively years 12 and 13 though generally known as lower and upper sixth or AS year and A2 year). It's bad enough for us older Brits for whom high school years were first form through to sixth form. :D

The GCSE exam courses are mostly taught in years 10 and 11, the first three years of high school setting the foundation for that but the key stage exams for that age have effectively been abolished.

I tried to work out your children's ages from the grades you mention by reference to Wikipedia but the article on education in Canada left me no wiser. In the UK children progress to high school at the end of the academic year (September to August) in which they turn 11 but I think your eldest is older than that, or will be at the earliest opportunity to move to the UK?

As a parent of children aged 26, 22 and 12 and with half my family in teaching I'd say move as soon as possible so they can start on the UK syllabus and establish their key stage grades in order to get the best choices of GCSE (and thus A-level) subjects.

Either way though schools in the UK have never had a higher intake of children coming from other educational systems so I don't think coming from Canada your children would be disadvantaged. If you have a UK destination in mind you could do worse than phone the education department of the local authority and see what they'd advise.
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Postby mnoj » Wed 11 Sep 2013 15:25 GMT

Thanks JJ for your detailed reply. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, I too went through the old system of 1-4th Form and then into 5-6th Form system back in the 70's.

Yes, I forgot to mention the age of my daughter. She is actually 11, (turning 12 in Jan) the youngest in her grade 7 class along with a couple of other kids in her class who are also from the UK.

When we moved to Canada my daughter has already completed Yr1 Primary in the UK and when we enrolled her in school she was placed in Yr1 Elementary because of her age.

Fortunately for us, on the second day at school her class teachers had assessed her and informed us that she was well ahead of the other local kids having already completed Yr1 in England.

They advised us that we should consider moving her to Yr2 but if we did this then she would probably be the youngest in the class. We decided it was best for her to progress forward and therefore she has remained in the same school year as children of her age in England.

Right now she has started her Yr7 Primary and so has her old (UK) class mates who have now moved into High School this year.

Our intended destination is going to be Hertfordshire as that is where we have our home still. As you mentioned I was reluctant to contact the education authority to get their advice but will have to find out more about their In-Year admission policy.

The main decision we have to make is when would be the best time to return, whether to get back next Sept or delay till she completes Grade 10 or 12 and depending on how well she does apply to get into a University. This is where I am not sure whether Grade 12 is accepted as entry into University. I believe they would not.
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Postby Minna » Wed 11 Sep 2013 15:25 GMT

My daughter has just returned to the UK at the age 16 to do her A levels as we have decided that the baccalaureate system does not suit her. It's early days but it's going very well. The school accepted her French brevet and it has not been a problem that she does not have British gcse's. Thus far she is finding the course work fine and the teaching staff very supportive.
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