Choosing and International School system is a confusing headache. Parents everywhere want the best education for their children. However, when you move to a different country every few years, the decisions, trade-offs and problems multiply.
An Expat Dilemma
American School? British School? French School? German School? Local School? Home School? Boarding School? Anywhere-that-has-a-place-for-my-child-School? Which school is the right school?
This is a conundrum faced by many expat parents.
There are a whole host of factors to consider and I’m sure I’ll have more to share on this subject in future, but in the first instance I’m including a nifty little table I’ve put together to assist you in working out which grade/class/year equivalent your child may fit into moving from one system to another. It’s something I would have found useful to have over the the last few years, so I figured it might help a few other people too.
Table showing how UK, US, South African, French and Swedish school systems compare.
|Pre School/ Nursery||Grade 000||Maternelle Petite||
|Reception||Pre-Kindergarten||Grade 00||Maternelle Moyenne||
|Year 1||Kindergarten||Grade R or O||Maternelle Grande||
|Year 2||Grade 1||Grade 1||CP||
|Year 3||Grade 2||Grade 2||CE1||Grade 1||7-8|
|Year 4||Grade 3||Grade 3||CE2||Grade 2||8-9|
|Year 5||Grade 4||Grade 4||CM1||Grade 3||9-10|
|Year 6||Grade 5||Grade 5||CM2||Grade 4||10-11|
|Year 7||Grade 6||Grade 6||6ème||Grade 5||11-12|
|Year 8||Grade 7||Grade 7||5ème||Grade 6||12-13|
|Year 9||Grade 8||Grade 8||4ème||Grade 7||13-14|
|Year 10||Grade 9||Grade 9||3ème||Grade 8||14-15|
|Year 11||Grade 10||Grade 10||2ème||Grade 9||15-16|
|Year 12||Grade 11||Grade 11||1ère||Grade 10||16-17|
|Year 13||Grade 12||Grade 12||Terminale|| Grade 11
German, Danish, Norwegian and Finnish School Systems
Currently, it covers the UK, US, South African and French systems. There was a blank column, it was originally intended for zee German education system, but it’s not a system I’ve had any real life experience with and the information I found online wasn’t great, so rather than make a pigs ear of it and mislead anyone, I left it out. That column has now been filled with the Swedish system courtesy of Lisa Ferland at Knocked up Abroad. We believe that it also works for the Danish, Norwegian and Finnish schools, but if that’s incorrect, please let me know and I can make any necessary corrections.
If you have another school system you’d like to add, please get in touch. The more complete this comparison table is, the more useful it will be to more parents navigating between different education systems.
Will my child be ahead or behind their home country school system?
Hold on, it’s not that straight forward. Depending where you’re from and where you’re moving to both your child age when the academic year starts and finishes and cut off dates.
There is an added caveat regarding the age column. If you are moving from Europe/America and your child moves to a Southern hemisphere school (including South Africa, Australia and New Zeeland), the grade your child will go into depends upon when your child’s birthday falls.
Academic Year Northern vs Southern Hemisphere
In Europe/US the academic year runs from August/September – to June/July. In South Africa and other southern hemisphere countries, the academic year runs from January to December. So, for example, if your child is 11 and turns 12 in October, they would currently be in Grade 5 in the US system, but will have already moved to Grade 6 in January in the SA system.
Alternatively. If your child is 11, turning 12 in April they would be in Grade 6 in the US system and also in Grade 6 in the SA system. Come August/September, they would move up to grade 7 in the US system, but remain in Grade 6 in the SA system until the following January when they would move to Grade 7.
Confused? Essentially, when moving to from a Northern hemisphere school to a Southern hemisphere school your child will either be part of an academic year ahead of, or behind where they would be at home depending when their birthday falls.
Oh, and a final note regarding the age column on the right. In Europe and the west, a newborn baby is 0 years old at birth and after 12 months, they turn 1 – the age column works on this basis. If you’re from Asia, I know that some countries (for example South Korea) count their child’s ages differently with newborns already being counted as 1 year old from day one and after 12 months you will count them as 2, so please bear that in mind if you are looking at the age column.
Helpful? Not helpful? Any corrections? Any additions? Let me know.