Category : expat kids

Top Girls’ Schools in London


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Girls Schools in London offer an excellent academic education.   Living in London, or relocating here?  

Many education experts believe that girls’ only education is best for girls.  This will, of course, depend on your daughter and the best environment for her.   To help with your choice,  see five of our top picks below:

Central London

City of London School for Girls city of london school for girls

A rising star, City of London School for Girls gets an of average 30% of its pupils into Oxbridge.  Plus its location in the heart of the City, and opposite the Barbican centre, enables girls to access the lifeblood of the capital’s cultural and academic life.

For high-achieving girls, from all backgrounds and walks of life (23% receive some form of assistance with fees), this school also excels in Sport, Music and Drama.  If your daughter is super academic, put this school on your list.

 Queens College  

Queen’s College is on the up. 110

One of the school’s key attractions has been the focus on each individual girls and the encouragement of every pupil to tread her own path.  But now, the academic results are rising with a record number of girls gaining Oxbridge places.  The warm, friendly atmosphere, small classes  and excellent pastoral care make this one of our top picks for London families.

North London

 South Hampstead High School

Part of the excellent Girls Days School Trust (GDST), which manages 24 all girls’ schools in London and the wider UK, including Kensington Prep.   Fantastic academically, pupils thrive both intellectually and emotionally and excel in Music, Art and Drama.   Teaching is first-class and results are outstanding with top 10 university destinations including Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, Bristol and UCL.

North London Collegiate

Regularly topping the league tables, North London feels  less like a traditional British public school  and more like an outstanding, but unpretentious state girls’ grammar school. north london collegiate

 

It is able to select from the cream of North London’s clever girls and to attract the very best teachers.   In 2017, 45 girls were offered places at either Oxford or Cambridge, with 100% of students who applied receiving offers from Russell Group institutions. In addition, 17  pupils received offers to study at Ivy League US universities.

West London

 St Pauls’ Girls School

st paul's girls' school

Parents hope for a place at Bute House Prep School, as a high percentage of Bute House girls gain places at St Pauls’. Renowned for its outstanding academic results and highly liberal ethos (there are few rules and no uniform, for example), 41 girls were offered places at Oxbridge in 2017.  Moreoever, Music, Art and Sport are very strong with over 100 extra- curricular clubs and societies enabling girls to explore their individual interests.  A top choice for very academic girls.

Do you need specialist advice on finding the best school for your daughter?  Our experts can help.

Please contact us to book a consultation. 

 

For more on girls’ schools, read our blog post Here on the merits of an all girls’ education 

 

 

Moving from the American to the British education system


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Relocating from the US to the UK?  Moving between education systems can be stressful for children.  Despite the differences between the American and British education systems, students can move successfully from one to the other.  Planning carefully is the key to a smooth transition. 

  1. The Early Years

The difference between the two early years approaches can be a culture shock for younger children. 

For children from aged 4 upwards, the mainstream UK system is focused on learning to read and write at a young age.  primary school children Children start school aged four in the Reception class, although some schools now offer more flexibility with a starting age of five.  Alternatively, you can opt for a Steiner or Montessori school in the early years, both of which offer a gentler approach and teach reading later:  the Steiner system does not teach children to read until they are seven.  These schools are mostly private.

In contrast, in the US system children are eased into academic studies, and there is a strong emphasis on socialisation in addition to fostering basic English and maths skills.  From kindergarten to Grade 3, children the academic foundations which are further developed during Grade 4.

2. High School:  Assessments and Testing

As the US and UK have a shared language, it is often assumed that the education systems in the two countries are broadly similar.  Children moving from US to UK schools need to be prepared for the fact that the UK has more nationally-assessed Bennett-Education-Table_12146_t5 US UK equivalent school years 2018exams to contend with.  In the US, although children are assessed at the end of every school grade, the examinations are not national and for the most part, have little bearing on their progression from year to year.  The standardized tests in the U.S. tend to be state mandated instead of federally mandated.  In New York, many high school students take the “Regents” exams which test the core subjects- but the exam system will vary from state to state.  Therefore, GCSE and A level exams are a culturally different experience for US children.

3. Generalist versus Specialist 

In addition, the US system is more generalist whereas the UK is more specialist.  In US schools, as in the French Baccalauréat, students have more opportunity to study a wider range of subjects for their High School Diploma.  There is more focus on sport, music, drama and art and as a result, a move to the UK can seem restrictive at first to US students.  Mathematics in both countries is also taught very differently and this must be taken into consideration when settling a US family into a UK school.

Culturally, children in US schools tend to be praised more- which is a positive attribute.   Children who have previously studied in the US system should be prepared for the fact that recognition of achievement in UK schools can be less effusive.

Finding a school that is willing to support the student’s adjustment, academically, emotionally and socially, is vital.   Please contact us for expert support with applications to schools in London and throughout the UK.

Read more about American schools in London. 

See our key points to consider when choosing a London school.

Caring for the Relocating Family :The Education Dimension


relocating family

When helping families relocate internationally, it is important that to consider needs of the whole family and their school-age children.

The greater the understanding of the key differences between global education systems, the more successful the assignment is likely to be. We take great care with our school placements and individually- tailored home-schooling programmes to take into account cultural, linguistic and education system differences.  It is vital to ensure the happiness and wellbeing of the dependent family. 

Bridging the differences between global curricula

Wherever a family is relocating, it is important that the differences between the education system in their previous home country and the curriculum of the host destination school of choice are recognised. This will allow the family and the school to plan accordingly.

A Comparison of 4 education systems

Here we compare four education systems with that of the UK and suggest steps to ensure a smooth transition.

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US versus UK

As the US and UK have a shared language, it is often assumed that the education systems in the two countries are broadly similar. However, the differences are numerous!

Children moving from US to UK schools need to be prepared for the fact that the UK has more nationally-assessed exams to contend with. In the US, although children are assessed at the end of every school grade, the examinations are not national and for the most part, have little bearing on their progression from year to year. The standardized tests in the U.S. tend to be state mandated instead of federally mandated. In New York, many high school students take the Regents exams which test the core subjects- but the exam system will vary from state to state. Therefore, GCSE and A level exams of the UK are a culturally different experience for US children.

In addition, the US system is more generalist whereas the UK is more specialist. In US schools, as in the French Baccalaureat, students have more opportunity to study a wider range of subjects for their High School Diploma. There is more focus on sport, music, drama and art and as a result, a move to the UK can seem restrictive at first to US students. Mathematics in both countries is also taught very differently and this must be taken into consideration when settling a US family into a UK school

Culturally, children in US schools tend to be praised more- which is a positive attribute. Children who have previously studied in the US system should be prepared for the fact that recognition of achievement in UK schools can be less effusive.

Asian students globe stock photo

China versus UK

Chinese citizens often view what are considered strict schools in UK, as positively Bohemian. When selecting the best education solution for pupils who have previously studied in the Chinese system, you should bear in mind that they will be unused to some UK teaching styles. For example, class discussions and individual research methods may be unfamiliar to students who are more used to receiving information that teachers impart to them.

Another key area of support for Chinese pupils will be English language learning. The Chinese language has a logographic system – with symbols representing the words themselves as opposed to the UK alphabetic system. Stress and intonation patterns are also different as Chinese is a tonal language. Because of these fundamental language variations, Chinese learners may require extra time to read English texts. Organising the right English language support for Chinese pupils, with the school, specialist tutors or the Local Education Authority (LEA), is essential.

The GCSE and A level exam system should present no problems for a child moving from the Chinese system as students in China are accustomed to a rigorous national testing system, being mostly graded on a standardized national exam and the National Higher Education Entrance Examination.   Children educated in the Chinese system will usually be more advanced in Mathematics than their UK counterparts, and we always consider arranging additional support to enable them to maintain their level.

 France versus UK

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Like the US system, the French is less specialist than the British and children have a very rounded education up until the age of 18.  For students working towards the Baccalaureat in the French system, there is the option to select one of three specialist streams:  Scientific (sciences), Social and Economic (Economique et sociale) or Literary (litteraire).  For all three streams, though weighted differently, students study foreign languages, sciences, mathematics, humanities and the arts.

For families moving from the French system to the UK, we consider recommending schools which offer the International Baccalaureate to maintain the breadth of subjects. For families relocating with small children, it is worth noting that in France, children start learning to read at six years old, as opposed to four or five in UK Reception classes.  Families who would be uncomfortable with the earlier school starting age, may also opt to enrol their children in an international school which follows the French education system.

 Russia versus UK

russia

Like France and many countries in Southern Europe, Russian children do not start formal school until six or seven years old, so enrolling in a UK Reception class at aged four or five is unusual. In Russia, children continue in secondary until the age of 15, or 17 if they wish to continue to university afterwards. Final examinations in Russia vary in content to UK A levels and GCSEs- pupils are examined in at least five subjects, including two compulsory written exams (composition and Mathematics) and three elective exams.

At 15 years old, students in Russia take examinations leading to the issue of the State Certificate and at 17 years old, they work towards the Final State Certificate which qualifies them to take entrance examinations for higher education.

As in the case of native Chinese speakers, we ensure that Russian-speaking students have specialist support in place to further develop their English skills.  The main challenges to language learning for Russian pupils include the differences between the Cyrillic alphabet and Latin alphabet and the difference in phonology which makes pronunciation of some English vowels challenging.

Conclusion

Transferring to a different school system can be mystifying and confusing for both children and parents.

When settling a family, we draw on our knowledge of different education systems, and linguistic and cultural differences to ensure our client’s relocation is both happy and successful.

With attention to detail, the social and educational barriers can melt away and it is much easier to secure a happy outcome.

Please contact us for expert support with applications to both international and UK schools in London, throughout the UK and globally.

Relocating? Five tips to help your child make new friends


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Friendship is very important for children. Especially for expat and international children who have to learn to make new friends quickly.

See our five tips on helping your child to navigate the friendship maze:

  • Encourage confidence

Making new friends can be hard when everyone else already has their own cliques or friendship groups. Encourage your child to approach new people positively- smiling and being open to different personalities and ideas.

  • Joining in

Encourage your child to join school clubs and activities that he or she is interested in.  Going to choir or French club will enable him or her to meet other kids with things in common.

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  • Detecting the cliques

Explain about the cliques and groups to your child- little children may find these hard to understand.  Encourage your child to look for friendships outside existing cliques.

  • Knock-backs are normal

Sometimes your child’s overtures may be rebuffed.  It is important to reassure your child that this is normal- not everyone we want to be friends with wants to be friends with us.  Inspire your child to be themselves and celebrate who are they are.

  •    Celebrate new friends

Encourage your child to enjoy his or her new friends- invite them for supper, organise cinema trips and country walks.

Friendship is one of life’s great gifts and should be enjoyed to the full.  You can reassure your child that expat and international kids who move frequently, often develop a great talent for making friends easily.  This is a valuable skill which will serve them well throughout their life. 

 

Relocation anxiety: how to soothe your kids’ worries about relocating.


anxious girl

Children perceive relocation differently

Many people assume that children, being young and adaptable, are more resilient to relocation than adults.  This is not the case.  In some children, feelings of anxiety and sadness can be very strong- even in expat kids who have moved many times.  Relocating with kids can be challenging but you can prepare for the top six worries that typically arise- making your child’s relocation smoother and easier for the whole family.

1)Not feeling prepared

In our mad dash to sort the new job, new house and new school, are we forgetting to prepare our kids? We need to ensure that we give them sufficient mental preparation and enough details about their new home.  Because we are so close to every detail of the move, we can lose sight of the fact that our children are not so well-informed.  Adequate preparation can help to allay these fears.  Take time to explain all the details about the new country and your new job.  Show your child photos of their house and read through the school brochure with them.

2) Fear that they will not make new friends

parent reassuring kids

 

Expat children worry about having to make the effort to find new friends.  You can reassure your child that other kids will want to hang out with him.  If you kid has relocated several times, you can tell him that this experience has helped him to develop great communication skills.  Many expat kids are very adept at making new friends and establishing positive relationships. 

3) Worry about being the new kid at school

No child likes being the new kid- and expat children will experience this often.  They can worry about other children disliking them, not knowing the school rules and eating unfamiliar food.  For some children, arranging a period of home-schooling in their new city, can help them slowly acclimatise to the new culture, before starting a new school. 

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4) Fear of an unknown place

Children worry about a place that they are not familiar with.   Reassure your child by giving him lots of information about their new destination, focusing on the positives- perhaps it is near a beach, has great cinemas, the opportunity to learn a new sport or to go sailing.   

5) Feelings of loss

Many children experience great loss and sadness. They may be anxious about leaving their friends, their girlfriend and their cosy home.  You can tell your child that these feelings of loss are completely normal, especially in expat children who have moved many times, and reassure him that you understand that he will miss his friends and his old home 

6) Anxiety about communication

Kids worry that no one will understand them, especially when relocating to a country with a new language.  They become anxious that they might get lost and they won’t be able to explain themselves to anyone.  You can prepare your child for this by organising language and culture lessons, before you move.  Get your kids excited about experiencing a new culture and a new language.   

  relocating family

Preparing children, as much as possible, in advance of your move, can help to ensure a happy and successful relocation for the whole family.

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