FR&gt1;UK Secondary School Transfer: Diff Age cutoff

18 Replies

Hello, I was wondering if anyone on this forum might be able to offer some advice or has experience of the problems posed by the different age cutoffs of year groups when transferring from French schools back to English schools. Problem:I am in the process of returning to the UK.My youngest son is currently in a French Secondary college 6ieme.As he is born in December, the school in England has said that heshould return to Year 6 in Primary and not go into Year 7 Secondary. (French school age cut off being age on 1st Jan. and English school cutoff being age on 1st Sept.) Understandably my son is not keen on this and more importantlyit will mean that he will be 2 years behind his brother (born July) ratherthan one year. The fact that the UK and France have different cut-off dates for year groups is not the pupils fault but it has a direct impacton them if they move between France and the UK. Many thanks in advance for any advice or experience of this. A pity there is no European standard for this. Anyone who knows where I might be able to get some EC advice on this would also be useful.

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Nona-185684 1174040355

I moved from England to Scotland at the same age and for the same reasons ended up going from secondary school back to primary school. From being a small fish in a big pool, with all the responsibility/ autonomy that goes with the classroom changes, homework, activities to a rather odd shaped fish in a goldfish bowl ('patriotism' was alive and active) was claustraphobic and demoralising.

Is it posible to delay your move until the beginning of the summer? Your son could enrol in summer sports classes etc to make friends locally and would then start year 7 with relative confidence.

cpswing-191423 1174041824

I didn't realise that the problem existed in the UK between England and Scotland too.

Thank you for your thoughts and valuable insight Nona.

cpswing-191423 1174044288

One further thought Nona. Your idea is certainly a good one but unfortunately won't solve the problem of him moving from being 1 year behind his brother to being 2 years behind his brother which I "see" as being a bigger problem in his mind than having to go back to Primary for a few months.

orme-197181 1174047391

We moved from another country to France and our son had already started secondary, so the French school let him into coll├Ęge although he was a year younger than the others. They said he could try it out and redouble if necessary. It all worked very well (hard work for him, but he did it!). How about suggesting to the school in England that they let him try? Either that, or go private (if you have the means!!) or Catholic - they are often more understanding.

Nona-185684 1174051387

My understanding is that the UK aren't fans of children repeating years ( I guess for social reasons: self-confidence/ self-esteem - there is far more in class/ in school support for children who are struggling).

If he was very close to the cut-off, I imagine the rules could be bent but 3 - 4 months is still a big difference at that age (potentially 15 months less than the eldest in the class). Sometimes children simply have to accept there isn't a choice.

motherearth-207430 1174053398

Hello, cpswing.

I think a lot would depend on your son's level of English.

If your son's English would be on a par with the class-level of the UK secondary school, I see no reason why you couldn't ask the British authorities to make an exception in his case, as the French schools did for my daughter, allowing her to skip a class to be with children of the same level of achievement, even if she is the youngest in her class by anything up a year (which has never been a problem, by the way - the other kids have never treated her any differently just because she is younger than them).

You could argue the point that the French collegiens are expected to be very mature and autonomous (perhaps more so than in the UK?) and that this is what your son has been used to for the past few months and therefore going back to Primary school could represent a psychological step backwards for him. Plus, I imagine he speaks some French, which would probably give him a bit of an academic edge, so you might perhaps include that in your argument.

However, if your son has never done full-time schooling in English, you might find he's a bit behind the other children on spelling and grammar, etc. In which case, going back to Primary level for a few months could be a good thing, as he would have a bit of time to brush up his English, before moving on.

cpswing-191423 1174055083

Hello all,

Many thanks for all your very useful insights. It's great to get a range of views and opinions as I try to manage this transition.

No one has commented on the effect that their would be on him being 2 years behind his brother rather than 1. If anyone has some thoughts or comments I would be very interested.

orme-197181 1174057387

Well, if you want me to be frank about him being 1 or 2 years behind his brother, why should this make any difference? He's not in competition with his brother (I hope). He works for himself at school, not to prove anything to bro!! To be honest, I don't think his brother's schooling should have the slightest effect on his - the issue is how well will he do, how well will he progress and fit in.

cpswing-191423 1174059284

Thanks for your views Orme, I do agree. But, I know that he does feel that he does not want to be 2 years behind his brother. I don't think it's a question of proving anything academically. It just seems to be a natural psychological point of view. The other thing is that unfortunately his brother is probably never going to let him hear the end of it if he is 2 years behind and that may be more of an issue as my eldest son does not stop speaking his point of view. For some reason children are like this between themselves. I don't think I am the only parent with rivalry between brothers.

orme-197181 1174062123

Then maybe it's his older brother who is a bit jealous? Sure, there is sibling rivalry (I come from a family of 4 children all born in 5 years), but would it really go on and on and 'never hear the end of it'? What does the older one say when you sit down with him and talk about it? Would he really carry on if he knew it was having a bad effect on his brother, to the extent of affecting his brother's schooling?

cpswing-191423 1174063217

Thanks Orme. Good point. I can probably get my eldest to see sense on this.

At the end of the day, I am seeing a little clearer on the issue now and it is quite simple. My youngest son sees himself as only 1 year behind his brother in France but in England knows he might have to be 2 years behind. This is just going to make him wish he was still in France or in a French school in England or quite simply like me, wishing he didn't have to face this issue as well as everything else.

Ah. If only there was a european standard for this....

thanks to everyone who has helped today. Much appreciated.

ouch that hurt-214958 1174079841

have you actually asked if there is any chance of him going into the secondary section? is there no dialogue at all?, is there any chance of asking at a higher level? can you look at sending him to another school?

cpswing-191423 1174122716


Yes I am in the process of opening a dialogue with the secondary school on the subject.

What I was also trying to do was to get some other views and thoughts from this forum before really making my mind up.

My mind is now made up that given he has already been in secondary for over 6 months I think he should go straight into Year 7. If this was in September or October last year going to Year 6 would have probably been the better option. I am also going to add that he will be the leader in the French classes ! although for his elder brother they don't want him to do French as he will be far too advanced and have suggested he does German.

Many thanks for your thoughts.

motherearth-207430 1174128399

although for his elder brother they don't want him to do French as he will be far too advanced and have suggested he does German.

Provided your child is up to it, I think taking another language would be a good thing, but it would be a GREAT PITY if your son loses his French - particularly in favour of German, which is less widely-spoken. Couldn't the school find a solution for this? Maybe by letting your boy join in the French lessons with the older children in the school?

I don't see why your son should have to sacrifice his French, just because he's too advanced compared to the rest of his class.

cpswing-191423 1174307981

Don't worry. He won't loose his French as his mother is French.

cpswing-191423 1174308435

Just to keep you posted. I had a message from the school this morning to say that they are going to take it up with the County as only the county can accede to this. Will let you know what they say.

The Pigtails-195986 1174338915

OK, as having only young children at this point & still living in France, I can only give you my personnel opinion, although I did do the personnel experience of changing from private school to high school at the age of 14 & having to do the year again, that through merit of intelligence I had already done!

I found that knowing the answer to every question did NOT make me popular, having been very popular at school I found that very disturbing & the only way to resolve the problem was to hang out with the IN crowd & be as annoying in class as pos'! although my studies suffered terribly I did become VERY popular!! lol

If this were my kids in the future I would be looking at every solution possible including private school, to resolve the (& only my opinion) disturbing upheaval of ridicule of being held back a year? whether that be an elder brother who has fallen lucky on his birth month or those new friends who may find out that he's been held back a year! Kids are tough, who would want to be that age again? not me! & even the most loving of siblings would feel envious if not able to continue their NORMAL schooling practically side by side!? I think that if your elder son said nothing or was even sorry for his younger bro', the younger son would still feel some humiliation to be back with the studies that he has already done?

I also feel (& again my personnel experience) that it gives a year in your life where you don't really have to study, you've already done that year, so you know most of it, I think you find it harder the next year as you've rested on your laurel's for 12 months & it takes some getting back into, & sometimes never!! Although on my behalf I did end up at university with a degree in Equine science! not that that is of any use here!!! but my point being after being at school & in a year ahead of my age, I was in top set for all subjects & after one year of being held back in high school (& not having to think at all because I knew everything & couldn't say anything for the peers giving me stick,) I finished high school with a big fat ZERO!! & I didn't have an elder sibling to give me jip OR feel sorry for me.

I think that you must consider every option for your younger son, even if you send just him to private school! You must put up a good strong argument with his school first & give them a paper with objections & make sure there are lots of pro's & little unimportant cons!!!

This subject has annoyed me enormously I cannot understand why there isn't a European standard, there seems to be one for everything else, although I have noticed that France doesn't seem to up hold many of them even if they do exist!!lol, but this I feel is an important factor of the EEC, whilst allowing us all to roam from country to country & encourage this, they seem to forget the future US, by giving them the minimum stability in these moves around the EEC!! I do also support an entrance exam system, as although having done that year doesn't always mean they are at that level? this could be another possible point you could put across to the school? maybe they could give him an exam to establish if he is able to go in to a year beyond his age?

Good luck with your endeavours & I hope it goes well, Regards Pigtails

I know, I do go on a little, but it's not often a subject that annoys me comes on the forum, so I profit while I can! lol

Stay happy, stay in love..........

Romantica-196641 1174382032

I could just repeat what The Pigtails has said, in just as firm a tone...I returned to the UK in the last year of primary school, as it was then, speaking fluent French (and English) I did two years in the final class (Year 6 equivalent), ending up teaching the others maths, I recall...and went to secondary school, and did nothing for the first year, because that's what I was used to doing. Cruising had a different definition all those years ago!

Our two are only 15m apart, but two UK academic years, as the youngest's birthday is 15th September.

By 5 it was quite clear that he was in the wrong year, off the scale height-wise (and destined to be a rugby player), bored, and becoming a bully...we battled, and had him moved up, amid cries of 'he won't be allowed to go to a state school at 10'...he's now 8, and quite capable of doing his older sister's homework, he's matured, and so not out of his league. There are two open-minded (state) schools locally, prepared to take him if he scores well enough.

Yes, I have rung around them all, spoken to the secretaries / admissions officers and explained, with varying responses - I would suggest you do the same. Don't just leave it to the 'local' school to talk to the county (rules are rules) It may be that you'll need to look at the paying options - there are bursaries and grants available, particularly for children with special talents, and that's what a second language at that is!

Good luck - don't give up!


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