Finding the right school for each of your children can be a difficult job, but it becomes more so when you are moving to a country the size of the USA. Not only is everything on a bigger scale, the education system is somewhat different to the UK, so there is a lot to acquaint yourself with when you start looking. Here is an introductory guide to help you make the right choice for your family.
Children have to go to school from the age of 5, but as in the UK, most children attend some form of pre-school education on either a full-time or part-time basis for a year or two before that.
Rules and systems vary between the states, but generally speaking your child will attend Elementary School (Kindergarten to Grade 5), Middle School (Grade 6 to Grade 8) and High School (Grade 9 to Grade 12)
It is compulsory to receive education until the age of 16, but most continue on to the age of 18.
Standards can vary wildly between states and areas, so make careful checks about the area that you intend to live in.
State education is known as public education (not to be confused with English Public Schools, that are private). Public education is funded in part by local taxes so generally speaking the schools in the wealthier areas tend to have better facilities. There is an argument, that when higher local taxes are taken into account, the same amount of money can be used to finance private education.
The bigger cities, such as New York, Boston, Washington D.C, and Los Angeles will have International Schools which are a good choice if you are just relocating for a short period of time. However, fees can be high (up to $30,000 per year) and many will have waiting lists. So if you think you would like to go this route, make enquiries as soon as you can.
Charter Schools are available in some areas – they are often founded by parents and teachers and provide high standards of education. They are non-profit organisations and are popular so again waiting lists can be an issue.
Another type of school that you may not be familiar with are Magnet Schools. Available in certain areas from Elementary level, they teach a full curriculum to a diverse range of pupils, although they specialise in certain areas like Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), languages or the Arts. They are an interesting option if you are going to be living in an area that has one; it’s worth a look.
As in the UK, entrance to private schools can be very competitive and based on academic achievement and/or religious affiliation. Most private schools offer boarding facilities and you should budget for fees from around $25,000 as well as other additional expenses.
Homeschooling is a popular choice in the USA and could suit you if are only going to be there for a short period of time. More than two million students are taught at home, so it is more of a mainstream option than in the UK. You need to check out what your obligations are with your local State Education department as the regulations vary enormously. You can find some good initial information from the Government here
The school year is only 180 days per year, including a summer break of up to 12 weeks. As the school vacations are so much longer than in the UK, you need to aware of this when you make your family plans – many children go away on ‘summer camp’.
American Universities, or Colleges, as they are widely known, always feature well in the world’s top Universities. You can familiarise yourself with some of the best known ones, but beware that an American University education can be very expensive. Although UK families are used to paying fees, you need to be aware of the costs before you think that the USA is an option for study.
If you are considering a move overseas PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 32 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.
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