Calling all BFSr's from London - need advice!

Use this area for any non-BFS related conversation

Moderators: JohnV, Arron, garym

Calling all BFSr's from London - need advice!

Postby Ava on July 29th, 2005, 9:31 pm

Greetings!

I'm a mom of 3 children living near San Francisco and I have BFS. This is the only on line site I have ever communicated on and it has been such a source of support but I have an off-topic concern.

Tonight my husband came home from work and said his company wants him to open a european office in London. My head is still spinning from this news - I can tell he want's to do it but we are just starting to figure out if we will go. I am excited, but I have never been to London and I have so many questions.

My main concern would be uprooting the kids from their excellent school in California. I have a 6th grader, 3rd grader and a little one who turns 5 in September. In England, what age does a child start kindergarten? My daughter misses the cut off date at the private school my children attend (you must be 5 by Sept.1st) so she will be in pre school 1 more year and start Kindergarten at the age of 6. How does this work in England? Would she be eligible for kindergarten this year in the UK with a Sept birthday?

Also, I hear that the schools are much better in the UK than in the US, which is reassuring -- but are they impossible to get into? I'm thinking private school, but I know nothing of the public and/or private school system in the UK. Are public schools the way to go for excellent education?

What are the very best, safest family neighborhoods near London. Can one live in a quaint country town and commute to work in London or is the country too far away?

I feel very strange sending these questions out to cyberspace but you are the only English people with which I am familiar. I'm sure the company will put us in touch with someone to help us plan, but I thought I'd put out a cry for help. Help!! :)

Ava
Ava
Hero
Hero
 
Posts: 265
Joined: July 6th, 2004, 11:34 pm
Location: San Francisco

Postby felicia on August 8th, 2005, 10:17 pm

Ava,
Your move sounds really exciting! I know nothing about living in England. My cousins went to college there and I'm certain you don't want their insider's view. And, my only experience of London was the airport during a connection flight. So I will ask my friend Duncan who grew up there and travels there often. His family lives outside of London and works in the city. So he should have some insight. I'm sure he'll think I'm a little strange when I say, this woman from this BFS site wants to know.... LOL!!!! :wink:

I'll get back to you in a few days. Good luck with all your arrangements.
felicia
Senior Member
Senior Member
 
Posts: 84
Joined: May 9th, 2005, 11:51 am
Location: New Jersey

Postby amy_twitch on August 18th, 2005, 11:13 pm

Hi Ava,
Just last year, my husband and I almost relocated to England for a two year stint. (we'd have been about 30-40 minutes outside of London. In fact, his company was like 90% sure they'd be assigning my husband over there, so they actually sent the two of us over there for a week to explore housing arrangements and schools. My oldest son would have still been in preschool.

You are correct about the schools. They are FAR and away better than our US public school system. Ok, maybe 'better' isn't the right word, but their curriculum is far more demanding and challenging. Also, the UK schools have much longer days, which helps explain why the kids seem to be learning so much more information.

What I learned is this (and of course, many UK folk on here can correct me---as I only got the high level overview): The percentages of kids attending public and private schools is about 50/50. I heard that the public schools are very good, but you might need to be selective.

Being that my kids were preschool (and younger) aged and because we'd return to the states prior to my oldest entering kindergarten, we decided to explore the American schools. Specifically, the American Community School http://www.acs-england.co.uk and TASIS http://www.tasis.com
Both schools have multiple locations in England, I'm pretty sure.

These are both 'private' schools that follow an American curriculum--and probably still more advanced that most all of our homeland schools.

I met with coordinators from both of these schools, and they were MORE than helpful. They each told me that if I were to enroll my kids in a true UK school for preschool....by the time we came back to the States for Kindergarten, they'd be more like 2nd grade level. That's a BIG difference. Personally, I think it's an awesome testament to the school system over there.

If we were to relocate 'indefinitely', I'd have selected a true UK school curriculum for sure...but again, since our move was going to be temporary, I had my mind made up about the American schools. I preferred the American Community School over TASIS--but both were awesome!!! Keeping the kids in the American schools would have ensured that they'd be more in-line with their peers when we returned home.

As far as your question about ages and grade-level, it's the same as here in the states. I'm sure there'd be assessments for your kids at the UK schools, but if you picked one of the American schools, you probably wouldn't have to worry that your kids might be behind.

Best neighborhoods: If you want to be near a lot of Americans, Virginia Water is a hot-spot. Lots of expatriates are living there. I really liked Sunningdale. The 'ideal' suburbs in this part of England are VERY pricey, so hopefully your hubby's job will fork out the $$$ for most of it.

Again, if you check with the schools (especially the American schools), they have phenomenal people who can help you find housing. They will tour you through neighborhoods and answer all your questions. They handle relocations ALL the time so they are very patient and full of information.

Needless to say, I have more information about living in England than I ever turned out to need. Some changes were made at my husband's company, and they decided it would be too costly to send him over there temporarily--and so on...so we're still chugging away here in California.

Regardless, I would LOVED to have moved there, if only for two years. We know an executive at my husband's company who had relocated there. About five years later, his job was offically relocated back to the states, but his wife refused to move. After having their four kids in the UK schools, she didn't want to come back. Now, this executive is now flying back and forth all the time, because his family won't move back. So at least, that's one great testament for you!

Best of luck with any future decision making. If I may be of any help, let me know....and I'm sure you'll get tons more info from the UK board members.

Amy
amy_twitch
Hero
Hero
 
Posts: 414
Joined: June 13th, 2004, 8:52 pm

Postby amy_twitch on August 18th, 2005, 11:25 pm

PS. the quaint country towns are awesome. There are so many of them to choose from. The public transportation system is awesome as well. Most towns have a local train station, and many many people take the train to London everyday.

Hope that helps!!!

The hardest part to adjust to, I think, will be all the conveniences we take for granted here in the States: like our huge shops and grocery stores and gas stations that are open 24/7---oh, and of course, they seem to only have like five TV channels over there (unless Satellite has changed that). There's lots more that's missing compared to the way we live here in the States-----but I think there's a whole different quality of life over there that makes up for it. People take more time to talk to eachother over there, and the 'pub' culture is so inviting. It's just different---in a refreshing, simpler sort of way. (I hope I sound complimentary, because that's my intention).

-Amy
amy_twitch
Hero
Hero
 
Posts: 414
Joined: June 13th, 2004, 8:52 pm

Postby Ava on September 13th, 2005, 6:05 pm

Amy,

I hope you see this long overdue reply! Thank you for your wealth of information -- I wish I could use it, but the whole thing is off. It turns out that my husband's boss did not have the final word on this issue and presented it to my husband prematurely. The top brass want him to continue to grow business domestically -- sounds so much like what you went through, but we never actually got a trip to London out of the deal.

I have to say, even though I was very excited about the move, I'm also relieved as my kids love their school and we are quite settled. We have plans to visit London, and other european spots during our summer trips since we have the miles to spare. We usually use them to go to Hawaii, but this ordeal has wet our appetite for some foreign adventure.

Well, maybe one day, one of us will have the chance to twitch abroad for an extended period of time!!!

Thanks again for your nice reply!

Ava
Ava
Hero
Hero
 
Posts: 265
Joined: July 6th, 2004, 11:34 pm
Location: San Francisco

I'm a bit late I think!

Postby Jene1 on September 21st, 2005, 1:23 pm

Hi there,

I have just come across your post and as I live near London I was about to launch into aheap of info about England for you (as there don't appear to be many English people on this site!). However it appears i'm a bit late and have just noticed that you are not actually moving to London after all. Anyway I just wanted to say that if the situation changes or if anyone out there wants any English info I would be more than happy to help out - so thats it really!

Oh and while i'm on - are there any English people who have been diagnosed with BFS? My doctor has never heard of it and says what's wrong with me is just "one of those strange things that happens!"
Jene1
New Member
New Member
 
Posts: 4
Joined: August 25th, 2005, 8:06 am
Location: Surrey, UK

I'm a bit late I think!

Sponsor

Sponsor
 


Return to The Lounge (Off-Topic Conversations)

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests