Category : Relocation

Featured Boarding School: Gordonstoun

Gordonstoun 2018

Nestled deep in the Scottish countryside, the caring and supportive environment at Gordonstoun is  different to the strict, bootcamp image of former years. 

A key feature of the school is its excellent pastoral care, with staff who make every effort to support the students.  In addition to providing a strong academic programme, Gordonstoun makes provision for students with Autism and other differing needs.   Pupils whose first language is not English take GCSEs in their native language, as well as the traditional GCSE subjects.

The expeditions or “expeds” are a central feature of this boarding school’s life and groups of Year 12 students travel independently to the West coast of Scotland.  The Round Square Programme, founded at the school, gives students unparalleled opportunities to volunteer to work in one of Gordonstoun’s life-affirming projects.  These include caring for disabled children in a Romanian orphanage and helping villagers in Thailand to build much-needed water tanks.

gordonstoun boat

Gordonstoun’s 80 foot boat, complete with its own crew, enables pupils to sail for periods of up to five days, learning how to cook and to manage life at sea.  Few schools can offer this opportunity- and students told us that these sea voyages created bonding experiences with their fellow classmates

The headmaster, Titus Edge, feels that the skills students develop in self-reliance, teamwork and resilience help them to manage their academic work and to perform better in exams.  We left with the strong impression that Gordonstoun’s holistic approach gives students a resilience and an understanding of the wider world which equips them well for life beyond school.

For expert support with applications to boarding, international and UK schools in London and throughout the UK, please contact us 


International Baccalaureate or A level? 5 key points to consider


For relocating families already following the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, an IB school in the UK offers the perfect transition.   Leading IB schools in the UK include Sevenoaks and Oakham.  If you choosing between IB and A level, read our tips below:

The key differences between IB and A Level

These images are copyright of Ursula Kelly Photography. Under the copyright act of 1988 it is a legal requirement for all images used to be credited to the author. Therefore Images online & in print must be credited to Ursula Kelly photography.

The IB offers a greater breadth of subjects.  It is divided into six groups: language, second language, individuals and societies, mathematics and computer science, experimental sciences and the arts.  In addition, pupils complete an extended essay, follow a Theory of Knowledge course (TOK) and participate in the CAS (Creativity, Action, Service) programme, which encompasses sport, arts and community work.

Are you a specialist or an all-rounder?

This broad spread of the IB will suit pupils who don’t want to drop from 9 or 10 GCSE subjects down to 3 or 4 A level subjects.  So if you are an all-rounder, not a specialist, this will be best for you.  If, however, you are desperate to drop some of your GCSE subjects, perhaps Maths or French, and to study only three subjects in depth, then you are a specialist.  In this case, A levels are best for you

Weaknesses of both IB and A level

With the IB, all six subject groups must be completed. tutoring-and-mentoring

The fundamental weakness of the IB is that one weaker subject can drag down an entire IB score. So a low result in an area of the curriculum that a student is not very interested in could have a poor impact.  Conversely, we could argue that the weakness of the A level is that it can mean students specialise too soon and regret this later.

Your free time 

The IB is much more time consuming.   Although most IB subjects are not studied in the same depth as A level, there are more of them.  Some students relish this extra time pressure but others would rather spend their time enjoying their hobbies such as drama, music or sport.

So perversely, the IB exam system designed to create a broader education can sometimes narrow down your free time.

 University options-  UK, US and Europe  

Both IB and A level are accepted in all UK and European universities.  education-programmesIt is true the European universities are more familiar with the IB as a qualification, but they also accept the A level.  US universities are also happy with both and have the additional entry test of the ACT or SAT which all applicants need to complete.

So which one is for you? If we go by UCAS statistics, the vast majority of schools and students are opting for the A-level. But there is no doubt also that the IB can be perfect for certain individuals: genuine all-rounders who enjoy the broader IB curriculum.  Our advice: think carefully about what would best suit you as an individual. Please contact us for expert support with applications to both IB and A level schools in London and throughout the UK.  

Bi-lingual Secondary Schools in London: English and French

ecole jeannine manuel

Moving to London or already resident here?  Many London and international families are opting for one of the excellent bilingual schools in our capital.  This blog will focus on English/French bi-lingual schools in London.  Our thriving French community take advantage of these excellent schools.  However, many Brits and other nationalities, who wish their children to have the advantage of a bi-lingual education, are seeking places for their offspring.

Lycee Charles de Gaulle


The Lycée is the original French school in London.  It is also the largest French school in the UK and has 3,000 pupils in the primary and secondary school. In the secondary school, children have the distinct advantage of selecting between the French and the British section to study for GCSEs and A-Levels. The British section ranks highly in the country for GCSE and A-Level results. The Lycée is a very academic school and one could argue that it is more focused on academic study and, in comparison to British schools, spends less time on music, art and sport.  A certain number of places are reserved for French nationals and competition for the other places is high.  Due to the Lycee being heavily over-subscribed for many years, several other French secondary schools have recently opened in London.

Collège Français Bilingue de Londres (CFBL)

college francais bilingue de londres

This school was previously a French primary school named L’Ile aux Enfants in Camden.  In September 2011, it reopened with new premises and a secondary department.   CFBL takes pupils from ages 5 to 15, so children will need to move to another schools to complete their IB, Bac or A levels- this will be less attractive to some families. Students at the school sit the French national schools certificate (Diplôme National du Brevet – DNB), International option at 15.   At the end of 3ème (age 15), pupils from CFBL move either to French lycée in London for three more years of education (mainly the Lycée International Winston Churchill, but also the Lycée Charles de Gaulle) or to a British school to continue their studies in the English education system.   The school give priority admission to diplomatic staff and expat employees of specific French companies and after that, children of international and UK families do find places.   Application takes place in February of the year of entry.

Lycee International de Londres Winston Churchilllycee international de londres

Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill was opened due to a shortage of French schools in London for francophone and international families living here.  The school has modern facilities including swimming pools and a sports hall in North London. In September 2017, this new school welcomed 900 students in the primary and secondary departments combined and there is currently an 8 to 1 staff student ratio which is unusually small.   Students are educated in a bilingual and international environment and follow the French education system with teaching and learning focused on the harmonious development of the child. In September 2018 the Lycée will launch a new English International Programme, starting from Year 7 for English speakers, the programme will culminate in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program (IB DP) in Years 12 and 13.

Ecole Jeannine Manuel

ecole jeannine manuel 2

One of the key advantages of Ecole Jeannine Manuel is that children do not have to be fluent French or English speakers to gain a place. École Jeannine Manuel admits non French-speaking and non-English speaking students up to Year 7 and supports them to adapt to a bilingual curriculum.   For this reason, it attracts francophone as well as anglophone and international families. The school currently boasts 33 different nationalities, all of whom receive a quality French/English bilingual education from ages 3-18.

A young school which opened in September 2016, École Jeannine Manuel London is a branch of its sister school, École Jeannine Manuel Paris which is a top-ranked Paris secondary school. It benefits from the support and the excellent long-standing reputation of the Paris schools and all London staff train at the Paris school.  In September 2016, it welcomed 185 pupils and aims to grow to 1000 over the next few years.  It will offer a choice between the French Baccalaureate and the IB.

This is not a typical French school in that it combines the best of both French and international academic systems.  The school uses the French curriculum in Maths and French and takes the most positive aspects of other systems for the other subjects.  Children can learn Mandarin, Latin, and either German or Spanish.  Therefore, children will graduate with a minimum of three languages

Ecole Internationale Anglo Francaise

ecole international anglo francaise

A welcoming school in the heart of Marylebone, Ecole Internationale Anglo Francaise (EIFA) aims to ensure that students are fully bi-lingual in English and French.   Up until year 8, the school accepts children who have not yet mastered one of either French or English The Senior School welcomes students in Year 7 to 11 and will expand to Year 12 in 2018.

From Year 7 to Year 9, the curriculum is based on the French National Curriculum with subjects being taught equally in English and French. In Year 10 French nationals may opt for the French Diplôme National du Brevet and all students take courses in IGCSE subjects and IGCSE exams in year 11.

EIFA is a candidate school for the International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme and pursuing authorisation as an IB World School. Intending to offer the programme in English and French, it aims to be the first school in the UK to deliver this internationally recognised programme in both languages.

Unlike the typically very academic-focused French schools, EIFA puts emphasis artistic and cultural studies as well as offering extracurricular music, drama, visual arts and sport.   The teaching approach is sympathetic and child-centred.

For more information and support on gaining entrance to French and bilingual schools in London, please contact our English and French speaking staff on or call 020 76927448.

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.


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

eiffel tower

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


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.


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.

Top tips to help your child on their first day at school

These images are copyright of Ursula Kelly Photography. Under the copyright act of 1988 it is a legal requirement for all images used to be credited to the author. Therefore Images online & in print must be credited to Ursula Kelly photography.

For many relocating families, children start new schools, not just in September, but in the middle of the school year.  Starting a new school can be scary- a bit like the first day in a new job for adults:  the unfamiliar building, the new routine and lots of people who all seem super confident and in the know.  But it is even more scary starting a new school in an unfamiliar country.   You can help your child make the new start as smooth as possible with these easy tips:


School visit

  • Visit the school with your child before he/she starts there. This can help take away the first day nerves
  • Find out what compulsory items you need to buy before school starts- there may be a compulsory school uniform. If uniform is not compulsory, then your child will definitely need a PE kit.  Some schools provide all stationary- others will require you to buy your own.
  • Notice what the current pupils are wearing and carrying: Most kids don’t want to stand out from the crowd. For your older kids, especially, fitting in is vital.  I speak from experience, having bought a small PE bag for my eldest daughter when all her peers were carrying huge tennis style PE bags.
  • Ask what will be needed on their first day of school. It’s important to be prepared
  • Make the journey to school a few times so you and your child know the route to and from school.

On that important first day


  • Get the school bag ready the previous evening– this avoids a stressful scramble to get out of the door on time in the morning.
  • Try to avoid being late. Your child will feel self- conscious being the new kid at school- being late will make them feel worse.
  • Keep calm and provide as much support as you can- If your child is anxious, it’s hard for them to manage your anxiety as well. Tell them that you understand starting a new school is challenging- especially if they are starting in the middle of the school term.
  • Don’t linger at the school gate With older children,- this is a definite ‘no’!
  • Try to hook up with other parents Forming friendships with other parents yourself can really help both you and your child get to know the school culture and feel part of the local community.

The first few weeks of a new school will be emotional for both your child and yourself. There will be a lot of settling in, exploring new friendships, getting used to a new routine and if you have relocated, getting used to a new country as well.  It’s important to ‘be there’ for your child and try not to intervene too much

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