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Hi all,

We are from Australia.  After 1 year living in Cambridge UK, it is time for us to decide whether staying longer or going back to Australia (Melbourne possibly).  One key issue would be kids schooling. 

My older son will be in Grade 6 next year, and the little one will be in Grade 3.  They both are doing well in the past in Australia and in their current public school in Cambridge (even they both had to move up 0.5 year when they enrolled in UK due to school enrollment rules ).  We had no problems about their primary school education (public) in Australia in the past, but would like to ask for your genuine opinion (or ideas) about secondary school education in UK and Australia and compare this in both countries. 

The UK secondary school system is a bit confusing for us.  Difference in regions, for example, there is no Grammar schools in Cambridge area.  Does anyone have any experience about secondary schooling in Cambridge?

Thank you all very much!!

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I would say be very careful about secondary schooling in Australia.  Some schools are good, some bad, and some just indifferent.  That is why many pay private fees as I am sure you are aware.  My experience is that most primary schools here are excellent, pity the secondary schools don't all keep up the good work.

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7 hours ago, Jenny_2017 said:

Hi all,

We are from Australia.  After 1 year living in Cambridge UK, it is time for us to decide whether staying longer or going back to Australia (Melbourne possibly).  One key issue would be kids schooling. 

My older son will be in Grade 6 next year, and the little one will be in Grade 3.  They both are doing well in the past in Australia and in their current public school in Cambridge (even they both had to move up 0.5 year when they enrolled in UK due to school enrollment rules ).  We had no problems about their primary school education (public) in Australia in the past, but would like to ask for your genuine opinion (or ideas) about secondary school education in UK and Australia and compare this in both countries. 

The UK secondary school system is a bit confusing for us.  Difference in regions, for example, there is no Grammar schools in Cambridge area.  Does anyone have any experience about secondary schooling in Cambridge?

Thank you all very much!!

I have family and friends who send their kids private in Cambridge - St Mary's, St Faiths, Perse mainly and they all seem very happy. Equally I have friends with kids in the public system - Comberton, Burwell and Linton VC mainly and they seem very happy. It seems to be more about the 6th form colleges towards the end and, then, it all depends what you want - my cousin's very sporty non academic son is aiming for Comberton whereas a friend's very bright, musical daughter is happy to stay at Sawston. Another friend's granddaughter is at Hills Rd, she's pretty academic.  All in all, I've heard fewer whinges about schools here than I did in Canberra where 50% of secondary kids a few years ago were in private schools (as our boys were).

The thing about Cambridge is that you have some high expectations from parents and the schools seem to deliver - one or two have closed over the years who weren't cutting it but their catchment area was sort of reflected in the student cohort and you probably aren't living in those areas.

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My daughter is hoping to teach in Australia, hence me looking on here for information for her.  I was googling schools in Sydney (along with crocodiles and spiders!) and came across an ebook on Amazon which is very funny about moving to Australia.  "Kelly Bags & Crocodiles:  the diary of a displaced housewife."  My daughter is hoping to teach primary children in NSW but it's not looking very hopeful at the moment, as teaching at junior level is no longer on the skills list.  I find the schools system to be a bit complicated - or perhaps that's just me!

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22 hours ago, Quoll said:

I have family and friends who send their kids private in Cambridge - St Mary's, St Faiths, Perse mainly and they all seem very happy. Equally I have friends with kids in the public system - Comberton, Burwell and Linton VC mainly and they seem very happy. It seems to be more about the 6th form colleges towards the end and, then, it all depends what you want - my cousin's very sporty non academic son is aiming for Comberton whereas a friend's very bright, musical daughter is happy to stay at Sawston. Another friend's granddaughter is at Hills Rd, she's pretty academic.  All in all, I've heard fewer whinges about schools here than I did in Canberra where 50% of secondary kids a few years ago were in private schools (as our boys were).

The thing about Cambridge is that you have some high expectations from parents and the schools seem to deliver - one or two have closed over the years who weren't cutting it but their catchment area was sort of reflected in the student cohort and you probably aren't living in those areas.

Thank you very much for your kind reply!  We are academics and do want our children develop very well academically.  Is Hill Road Six Form a public one?  If we stay in Cambridge, we may be able to consider this one and Parkside in town. 

Considering the reputation of Cambridge University, what we don't quite understand is that many very good public schools (e.g., Grammar schools) are near London (please excuse me if this is wrong).  My kids' head teacher complained bitterly about gov funding situation in Cambridge area. 

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On 8/20/2017 at 11:57, starlight7 said:

I would say be very careful about secondary schooling in Australia.  Some schools are good, some bad, and some just indifferent.  That is why many pay private fees as I am sure you are aware.  My experience is that most primary schools here are excellent, pity the secondary schools don't all keep up the good work.

Thank you so much for your reply.  I heard someone said that too but I don't quite understand why the secondary school aren't as good as primary's teaching standard. 

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1 hour ago, Lindsey Richards said:

My daughter is hoping to teach in Australia, hence me looking on here for information for her.  I was googling schools in Sydney (along with crocodiles and spiders!) and came across an ebook on Amazon which is very funny about moving to Australia.  "Kelly Bags & Crocodiles:  the diary of a displaced housewife."  My daughter is hoping to teach primary children in NSW but it's not looking very hopeful at the moment, as teaching at junior level is no longer on the skills list.  I find the schools system to be a bit complicated - or perhaps that's just me!

I wouldn't be recommending anyone opt for primary teaching - there's a huge oversupply of local kids who can't get jobs. Any positions that may be hard to fill are hard to fill for a reason - either they're in a place where nobody wants to live or you'd be eaten alive. If she wants to work in NSW then a different career might be a better option.

The schools aren't complicated really - primary (up to yr 6) and high schools (7-12) basically. Gets more complicated in ACT where HS finishes yr 10 then secondary colleges for yrs 11&12

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1 hour ago, Jenny_2017 said:

Thank you very much for your kind reply!  We are academics and do want our children develop very well academically.  Is Hill Road Six Form a public one?  If we stay in Cambridge, we may be able to consider this one and Parkside in town. 

Considering the reputation of Cambridge University, what we don't quite understand is that many very good public schools (e.g., Grammar schools) are near London (please excuse me if this is wrong).  My kids' head teacher complained bitterly about gov funding situation in Cambridge area. 

Grammar schools depend on the local authority and Cambridge did away with their grammars years ago unfortunately. There are some authorities which still choose to have them. Luck of the draw really.  Teachers always complain bitterly about the level of government funding no matter where in the world they are!

Yes, Hills Rd is a gov 6th form college (as is Long Rd). I think it tends to get the best results but you've got a few years to ponder that one if the kids are still in primary. Hills Rd, Long Rd and Parkside all used to be Grammars - Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, Girls and Central respectively as it happens! 

I don't know why Aus government secondary schools don't get a good rap. In ACT it's usually decried by the Education Department that parents have too much disposable income and want the Old Boy Network for their kids. I think the parents (who would much not rather pay sqillions for an education which should be free!) would say that it is discipline, rigor, pastoral care, good sports programs and not too much PC that attracts them. I know in ACT there are some high schools which are positively feral and I would not put a dog into them, let alone a kid who has any pretentions to being the least bit academic.

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5 hours ago, Quoll said:

Grammar schools depend on the local authority and Cambridge did away with their grammars years ago unfortunately. There are some authorities which still choose to have them. Luck of the draw really.  Teachers always complain bitterly about the level of government funding no matter where in the world they are!

Yes, Hills Rd is a gov 6th form college (as is Long Rd). I think it tends to get the best results but you've got a few years to ponder that one if the kids are still in primary. Hills Rd, Long Rd and Parkside all used to be Grammars - Cambridgeshire High School for Boys, Girls and Central respectively as it happens! 

I don't know why Aus government secondary schools don't get a good rap. In ACT it's usually decried by the Education Department that parents have too much disposable income and want the Old Boy Network for their kids. I think the parents (who would much not rather pay sqillions for an education which should be free!) would say that it is discipline, rigor, pastoral care, good sports programs and not too much PC that attracts them. I know in ACT there are some high schools which are positively feral and I would not put a dog into them, let alone a kid who has any pretentions to being the least bit academic.

Thanks very much again!  We are a bit assured about the schools near Cambridge.

I also had a look of secondary schools in Melbourne.  A lot around but good public ones are in very expensive area.  The house price there is very scary indeed!  Melbourne is huge and population is exploding.  This can be a big problem for a family moving from overseas. 

I guess the secondary education system is also a bit different.  In UK they have year 13 (to prepare for University entrance exam), but in Australia, only year 7-year 12 available in high school.  Is it true? 

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6 hours ago, Jenny_2017 said:

Thanks very much again!  We are a bit assured about the schools near Cambridge.

I also had a look of secondary schools in Melbourne.  A lot around but good public ones are in very expensive area.  The house price there is very scary indeed!  Melbourne is huge and population is exploding.  This can be a big problem for a family moving from overseas. 

I guess the secondary education system is also a bit different.  In UK they have year 13 (to prepare for University entrance exam), but in Australia, only year 7-year 12 available in high school.  Is it true? 

Yes, there is an extra year in UK which means that the kids are 18/19 rather than 17/18 when heading off to Uni. Aus catches up in the end with 4 years for honours vs 3 years (possibly) for UK. So they are a similar age at the end of their first degree.

 

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