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Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Old Jul 21st 2016, 4:25 pm
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Default Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Hi all - Am new on here, sorry for any rookie errors.

Would a British child moving from the US public school system to the UK system find themselves behind their British peers, and at a disadvantage?

We are based in California. DS is 5 rising 6. He has just finished transitional kindergarten (like a pre-K year) and is going into kindergarten. We have the option to take a place at a private school, which will be a big stretch financially. However, I am wondering if it will put him in a better position further down the line, if we move back to the UK in 5-6 years' time.

I did check your wiki, but it seemed to be more about entry into the US system than the return to the UK system.

Thank you!

Last edited by sofa272; Jul 21st 2016 at 4:28 pm. Reason: more detail
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 4:39 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Is it an IB private school? Most kids that go to some private schools are ahead of the public school. How do your public schools rate on greatschools ?
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 5:46 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

It really will depend on how good your local schools are.

I wanted to ask a friend who has recently moved here - one of her children is about the age your child will be, however she is on vacation for a few weeks now. IIRC she has said that the standard of the school here in the US is better than the one they moved from in the UK. By better, I mean they are more advanced in what is being studied and her kids have had to work to catch up. So, that's good for you.

There won't be a perfect match up, your job will be to figure out the gaps with help from the UK teachers when you move. I'd say not to worry too much at the primary age provided your local school is a good one. Slightly trickier if they are in the middle of secondary but if I've got your son's age correct, he'll just be starting secondary.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 5:51 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

At that age it doesn't really matter as long as he can handle the basics.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 5:52 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

it may also depend where the OP moves back to in the UK. If their child needs to take an 11 plus exam/test, she may want to think about moving before that age.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 5:58 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Originally Posted by Anian View Post
At that age it doesn't really matter as long as he can handle the basics.
I tend to agree with Anian, most subjects can be caught up on and any gaps dealt with as they arrive. I would be more careful with the maths though. Also, English isn't terribly well taught here in the USA at the younger ages and some essay/story writing help might be needed. But that's my personal observations, I'm not a teacher and my kids didn't move from the UK.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 6:12 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
My daughter has done more advanced English studies here in the US than I had done in the UK at her age, a lot more advanced - she has been studying sentence structure at age 7-8 that I didn't study in the UK until I went to grammar school at age 11.

It may be significant that my daughter goes to a well respected private school.


You will come to realise that kids study everything younger and to a much higher level than we did! You can't really compare what we studied all those years ago to what kids are studying now. I think my "O" level math was surpassed when my kids were at about age 13.

Last edited by Jerseygirl; Jul 22nd 2016 at 12:38 pm.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 6:15 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Originally Posted by Pulaski View Post
My daughter has done more advanced English studies here in the US than I had done in the UK at her age, a lot more advanced - she has been studying sentence structure at age 7-8 that I didn't study in the UK until I went to grammar school at age 11.

It may be significant that my daughter goes to a well respected private school.
Or it may be that in the intervening 20/30 years things have changed everywhere.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 6:21 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Originally Posted by petitefrancaise View Post

You will come to realise that kids study everything younger and to a much higher level than we did! You can't really compare what we studied all those years ago to what kids are studying now. I think my "O" level math was surpassed when my kids were at about age 13.
I had just turned 15 when I took O-level maths. That's a couple of years difference. We did pure and applied combined.
Why do the kids stay on until 18 if they are ahead. I find this confusing.

Last edited by Jerseygirl; Jul 22nd 2016 at 12:38 pm.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 6:32 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
I had just turned 15 when I took O-level maths. That's a couple of years difference. We did pure and applied combined.
Why do the kids stay on until 18 if they are ahead. I find this confusing.
Expectations are getting higher from children. And many are under the impression they can't do anything unless they have good grades and education, which, dependent on the area they want to work in, is true.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 6:35 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
I had just turned 15 when I took O-level maths. That's a couple of years difference. We did pure and applied combined.
Why do the kids stay on until 18 if they are ahead. I find this confusing.
they are taught to a higher level.

Actually when they become teens they will very quickly realise that mum/dad know nothing. Nothing at all. Amazed at how we managed to get anywhere in life considering how little we know. Watch for the rolling of eyes, the shaking of head and the patronising tone. Nothing you say is to be believed without checking it on google as well - they simply cannot believe that you might know something they don't. Thank heavens I've only got 3 teens.
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Old Jul 21st 2016, 7:41 pm
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Originally Posted by mrken30 View Post
Why do the kids stay on until 18 if they are ahead. I find this confusing.
Originally Posted by petitefrancaise View Post
they are taught to a higher level.
Exactly! That's what enables them to get a degree in only 4 years instead of 3.

Wait a moment...numbers were never my strong point...

I suggest the real answer to the question under debate is "it depends". It depends on the individual student, the school, the opportunities, etc. The answer is not a simplistic, general one.

To the OP I would suggest 2 key considerations:

Make any move between continents at a stage where the destination educational system is at a transition point, i.e. don't put a child into studies part-way through the 2-3 year period that culminates in that stage. If you can help it.

In areas such as maths I feel it is less how far along they are than HOW they are taught. Even the simplest concepts, taught in a totally different way, can be a source of grief.
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Old Jul 22nd 2016, 12:52 am
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

For a child who'll be 10/11, it won't remotely matter. I moved my kids from French-speaking Swiss schools to the US when they were 7 and 11; the youngest couldn't read in English beyond a c-a-t level equivalent to a kid about halfway through UK Reception, and my oldest hadn't written a sentence in English since he was 8. His writing style was 'I went for a walk. I went to the shops. I bort a toy', with very simple clauses and lots of phonetic spelling. Maths-wise, he was ok on arithmetic but miles behind on data analysis and had no clue on fractions beyond 'half a pizza' (his peers could do things like divide 17/23 by 6/11).

Within 6 months, he was writing and doing maths at the passing standard for the end of US 6th grade standard. Six months later, he got moved into the accelerated math stream, and uplifted to the English honors class.

My youngest took a little longer to catch up, being proportionally so far behind her peers who were on chapter books. I'd say it was about 18-24 months before she equalized. Her teacher was much more concerned about it than I was, I having seen what total lack of difference being behind in elementary had made for my son in the long run. I swear you could do no education at all and still take a bright, biddable, hard-working 9-10 year old and get them ready for secondary from a standing start.
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Old Jul 22nd 2016, 1:05 am
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Hello from Hong Kong, where we have a choice between British and American International schools across the city and I've been able to see some the differences (and mostly similarities) between the two.

My son is in an American International and his best friend is a British system. They are 30 days apart by birth though my "Grade 1" son does the same homework as his "Year 2" friend. The British student started their reading unit in school in the Fall of one year and my son started in the Spring, but my son's math work was the same in the Fall and now slightly more advanced than the UK in the Spring.

But really all these minor differences at this age group aren't what is the most important. At this age, I think you'll find most educators stress that the emotional, social and physical development of the child is as important as their academic development (if not more so). Any academic weaknesses or advances will likely be smoothed over in a few weeks or months.

As we occasionally toy with the idea of a move to the UK, I was supplementing my son's work with lesson plans from the Hamilton Trust in the UK, but I gradually discontinued as his USA lessons continue to be on par with what was on offer in the UK. Sure I do have to explain about the Queen and Parliament and Pounds, as he learns about the President and Congress and Dollars at school, but these are minor differences.

https://www.hamilton-trust.org.uk

Good luck.

Last edited by penguinsix; Jul 22nd 2016 at 1:38 am.
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Old Jul 22nd 2016, 1:11 am
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Default Re: Schools - whether US behind UK equivalent

Given the fact that you've mentioned private school, I would argue that the gap between a decent private school in the USA and a decent private school in the UK isn't so big. I have friends who send their kids (4 years old, 7 years old, and 11 years old) to an exceptionally good private school in California. At about age seven or eight, the kids begin learning mandarin and latin, and by their early teens, they're all (pretty) fluent in it.

My friend's 11 year old can read, write, and speak mandarin, and understand it being spoken. In his math class, his math teacher fairly recently ran a 'who-can-recite-the-most-digits-of-pi' competition. My friend's kid correctly recited up to about 160 digits of pi, and he "only" got second place in his class, with his friend reciting something like 165 digits.

I used to live with a guy who was a math teacher at an exceptionally good private school in Cambridge, UK. He teaches his fifteen and sixteen year olds university-level math, and is often amazed at how much they understand and learn. Some of his kids are so good that they sometimes even stretch his knowledge (as a math teacher who studied math to Masters level).

It just goes to show that if you have a bright, studious kid, and surround him/her with an amazing school, top quality teachers, and very bright peers who all want to excel, you're on to a winning combination.

Last edited by cautiousjon; Jul 22nd 2016 at 1:17 am.
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