Saturday 18 May 2013

Why as an expat I don't think local schooling is a good idea.

Education and International schools

I have no knowledge of International schooling, it was not an option for us when we became expats and moved from the UK to South Africa.


I’ve read many articles and blogs about the benefits of local schooling, but when I look for further information in regards to my childrens education I discover that most of the information for local schooling is primary education and the benefits of your child emerging themselves in local schooling.


I google boarding schools for expat children and alarmed to discover that this choice is usually made when the child approaches secondary education and the parents are still livng abroad.


So why did we choose local schooling over international schooling? Because we were nieve, we listened to the advice we were given only to discover that the advice was based on…… knowledge of anything other than we had to have a school place for our children in order for us to obtain a visa to move here.


Our eldest child child school here in 2011. The school year starts in Jnauary, he entered in Grade 10. In the UK he had already completed 4 months of grade 11, his GCSE year. We opted to move him, prior to his GCSE’s as his UK school wasn’t really performing to the best of his abilities, he ran with the in crowd and every day was a battle. Local schooling for him here was the best thing we did for him, they helped him catch up with this grades, he joined the first team cricket and rugby, not bad for a Pomme, his grades went up, he still ran with the in crowd but the peer pressure was positive.


He is finishing Grade 12 in December, he will be 18 years and 11 months. He is on course for Matriculation and entry to Varsity…or is he?


Arriving in Grade 10 he was exempt from Afrikaans and learning a 2nd language. So far entry to Varsity here is going to be difficult. An undergraduate course is 3 years and should he be accepted, as an immigrant all fees have to be paid on being offered a place. To complete his degree and obtain the Hons, he has to reapply and study for a further year.

Should he want to study at a UK university he is required to spend an additional year and move over to the Cambridge school to convert his Matric to A level equivilant, then applky to UK University meaning he wouldn’t be able to start until October 2015, that would leave him with no visa and have to return to the UK in December 2014 and wait 10 months before taking up a UK university place aged 20 years and 10 months, where as had he stayed in the UK he probably wouldn’t have done A levels but if he had he would’ve started University in October this year. He is effectively having to do an additional 2 years of schooling for his A levels.


The youngest child entered schooling here in Grade 6, still in Juniors, he had already completed 4 months of secondary school in the UK. Due to a monumental cock up, the company had informed the local school we were only here for 2 years. He wasn’t exempt from Afrikaans as we’d been informed and his Educational Psychology and learning need reports hadn’t been forwarded to the school as they had needed to secure his place, again for our visa application. It became apparent in Grade 7 at the end of the first term, March 2012 that his educational needs were not being met and after reassessment and additional support being given for end of term exams, he had missed out on vital education with him failing terms. I’ve attempted to address his needs with his current school. But as with other local schools I’ve approached, Special Educational Needs are NOT catered for in main stream schooling. I’m banging my head against a wall, the last correspondence I received from him school was a suggestion that he may be suited to schooling else where, but no suggestion as to which school. Schools in Jo’burg are out of the question and trying to find an international school that delivers International GCSE’s and that also caters foor his SEN within a reasonable driving distance is proving impossible. There is a Montesorri school near by that we have applied to but as he had no Montessori experience and is 14 years of age, it doesn’t look likely.


We also don’t want our youngest to be in the same situation as the eldest so our only option is looking like UK boarding school for him. He was a pupil at The Downs Malvern College prior to our relocation and he loved boarding, we took this option as the whole boarding approach seemed the best way forward for his learning needs and style, but we only lived 4 miles away and he could come home in the holidays or the odd night if he wanted to. This is not my preferred choice of schooling, but having exhausted all the other options, we need to move fast as he is due to start his GCSE’s in Year 10 this coming September.

For the eldest child we should have chosed International schooling from the start. For the youngest, it seems that UK boarding is and was and should've been our only option. I'm just hoping now we can get a place in time for him to start his GCSE's this year and that he can catch up with the last two years of missed education.


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