Friday, September 9, 2011

First Things First- Finding A School

The first order of business regarding our move to the UK was to find a school for our children.  Given everything we had heard about the school system there, we knew it was going to be a bit complicated.  Schools are all graded by Ofsted reports and the schools with the top scores are typically oversubscribed.  Unlike the U.S., living within the school's catchment area does not guarantee your child a spot at that school.  Since our move was scheduled for August we quickly abandoned all hope of finding a spot for our kids at a good state run school.  They would all certainly be full well before then.

Private schools were also ruled out for the sole reason that the high tuition fees would not be covered by our company.

Which leaves us with American or International Schools.  These schools also have outrageously high fees, but our company agreed to cover them as part of the contract.  So we quickly focused our search on the three main American options.

Initially, I assumed the American School in London would be our first choice.  Tom will be spending a fair amount of time in the central London office and I fancied the idea of living in the heart of the city.  But my hopes were quickly dashed when I learned they would not even accept the little guy's application because they were so oversubscribed at the pre-kindergarten level.

So we expanded our search to the home counties where several American schools are located.  As it turns out, my two older kids now attend two different American schools in Surrey.  And I'm really happy about that decision.

The classes are small (14 kids), the teachers are excellent, the curriculum is challenging, and the schools are specifically prepared to help "third culture kids" adjust to life in their new country. 

When it comes to schools, I'm not easily impressed.  But, based on what I've seen so far, these schools are truly impressive.  I feel lucky that my kids will have this educational experience.  And living in the beautiful suburban English countryside is turning out to be a little fringe benefit.  So far, so good!


  1. We certainly will never take good schools for granted again! So happy it all worked out.

  2. She looks like English perfection in her uniform in front of what looks like a beautiful school! LB looks like he is right at home! So glad it all worked out!!! Is Surrey like a Mosman, teaming with Americans? Two American schools would suggest it.

  3. Good schools can make or break a posting!
    Miss you! xx

  4. Welcome to Surrey! The UK school maze is quite something :) Do you know about the American Women of Surrey and/or the American Women of Berkshire & Surrey? They are loaded with expats (non-Americans too) with lots of fun outings :) XOL

  5. Allison- even more so than Mosman. So many Americans here. It's nice but I do feel like we're missing out a bit on the authentic cultural experience.
    Sofie- You're right. It's nice to be back in an American school- really nice. Our teacher gave out her home phone number. Can you imagine that happening in an Aussie school?
    Laura- Thanks! Yes, I've already joined and signed up for heaps of activities. So glad to have something in my diary. :)

  6. Oh gosh, I bet that it was hard to decide! Sounds like y'all got some amazing schools, though!


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