How flexible is the IB diploma?

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma is increasingly the first choice qualification for internationally mobile families.

Well respected by universities around the world, it offers students breadth and independence.

Its simple scoring system – a mark out of 45 – provides clarity on a student’s work ethic and potential.

Being a qualification originally designed for internationally mobile families, it also should allow a student to transfer during the two-year course.

Although Dean Associates would generally advise that the two-year diploma course should never be interrupted if possible, we have had a number of families who have had to move and we have been brought into help as they have run into difficulties.

So what is important to consider when such a move is contemplated:

Course matching – can the new school match the courses that the student is currently taking.

Flexibility – if one or two courses are not available does the school have the ability to offer an alternative that would allow knowledge transfer in a similar discipline.  For example Environmental Science could be swapped for Geography.

Course content – what order have the courses been taught in the current school, how different is the the curriculum in the two different countries.

Independent work – is the student prepared to buckle down to make up time if discrepancies found in course content.

Timing – when is the right time to move?  Immediately or at the mid point at the end of Grade 11.

Other news … universities, nurseries and term-time holidays

University fee levels to rise

English universities will be able to raise undergraduate fee levels to £9250 per year from September 2017.

In a recent survey of elite universities, all said that they intended to charge the higher rate.

It is also possible that the increased fees can be charged to students who have already started their courses.

30 hours free childcare to start in September 2017

The Government is to double the number of free nursery hours available to working parents from 15 to 30 hours per week in September 2017.

Term-time holidays not illegal

Term-time holidays are now being accepted by schools in many parts of the country after councils were forced to update their policy fining parents.

The Government had cracked down on unauthorised absence at schools, despite many parents’ complaints that travelling during the school holidays is more expensive than in term time.

But last year the High Court ruled that it is not illegal to remove a child from school as long as they had a good attendance record.

Funding crisis and relocating families

There is a growing concern over a funding crisis in the English state education system.

Recently the head of PISA – the body that surveys education quality around the world – highlighted how this would affect English state school performance – still lagging behind the best in the world.

A Government plan to reallocate funds towards more deprived areas would put pressure on existing schools budgets within many of the areas that globally mobile families would focus upon when moving.

But how could this funding crisis hit relocating families.

Availability of courses:  Less cash could mean fewer subjects taught, especially outside of the core academic courses.  Even in those subjects, teachers may be forced to provide a more prescribed teaching programme with less space to think “outside of the box”.

Co-curricular crash:  Maybe the first thing to go.  Sports, drama, music and arts are usually the first victims of funding squeezes.  So children moving to England may find opportunities limited within the state sector and a need to supplement their interests outside of school.

Voluntary contributions:  Schools are not allowed to ask for money for education. They can, however, ask for “voluntary contributions”.  One well regarded school in north London, Latymer School, has already started doing this and another expert feels that many grammar schools will start on this route.

Strikes:  Controversial government policies usually mean industrial action.  All parents may well have children at home as teachers strike in coming months.

There is some consternation amongst headteachers that #384 million allocated to the scrapped academy transfer programme was returned to the Treasury instead of being invested in schooling.

Case study: In-year state school admissions

We received wonderful feedback from a client, moving from Australia, shortly after Christmas.

“Thanks so much to you for all your great advice and motivation – your insight has really brought results – I appreciate your professional and well considered assistance through this process, it has helped tremendously.

It was a complicated move.  One child moving into Year 11 (GCSE year) and one into Year 8.  The younger child had also had SEN requirements.

State schools were the only option and they had to be in London, where places in the stronger schools are always at a premium.

The first thing Dean Associates always aims to do is establish an agreed strategy with the family.

This needs to be both positive and realistic.  Spaces can open up in schools that are full but you also need to have a workable Plan B in place.

For this family, we looked at the longer-term aim – ie which school would they like to have their children in September 2017.

The home search was conducted to find a place close to the school, not just in catchment but around the corner from the school gate so that the children moved towards the top of the waiting list.

We then worked on gaining entry for the younger child on appeal, given the child’s SEN requirements.   This meant drawing together a strong case as to why the child should attend the school above others in the area.

This being successful it then gave the older daughter sibling priority on the school waiting list.

By chance – and luck always works for the best prepared – there was some movement in her year group and she also found a space.

Throughout this process we kept momentum through constant communication with the local authority, the schools and the family.