3 Children into school...and 1 refused!

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Photochick
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3 Children into school...and 1 refused!

Postby Photochick » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:20 pm

I have now enrolled my 4 and 6 yo in kindergarten, and my (just) 8 yo in year 1 of school in Dryanovo. The kindergarten children will start this Monday and the 8yo on the 15th Sept.

It will take a bit of getting used to as my 4 and 6 yo will be expected to have 2 hour naps in the day (something they have not done since they were 2 - lol). My 6 yo will also have to take her own food in each day as she has coeliac disease and they don't cater for special diets here. They also have to take their own juice, slippers and PJ's :-)

My 8yo will be starting in yr1, and we were surprised to be told that she will be picked up by bus from the village at 6.30 am, and be bought home at 3pm! It seems rather a long day. We have met her teacher, who doesn't speak English, and we don't yet speak more than a couple of words of Bulgarian, and were showed her classroom. It all seemed very nice, and very friendly, and I'm sure she will soon make friends and learn the language.

The only problem is my 13/14yo, who we are told cannot go to school here :-( We have been working through this problem for a couple of months, and have had help from the Brit Embassy etc. She is currently studying for her GCSE's, taking 3 next june and 4 the year after (at 15 before planning to start A'levels). We have been told that when she passes the GCSE's and has the certs translated etc, she will be admitted to the Bulgarian system on trial. She will then have 2 months to learn Bulgarian and pass exams in Bulgarian language, Bulgarian literature and Bulgarian history before being made a 'proper' pupil. Have also been told she will need to study extra science as she won't have physics GCSE and that is compulsory here.

I have asked if there is alternative paperwork I can get from the UK, but the UK tell me three are no intermediate exams between age 13 and GCSE (i'm happy to pay for them in the UK or BG if thats whats needed); and have explained to BG ministery that the GCSEs are uk 'school leaving exams' and I want her to go to school before then but we don't seem to get any where.

So....I have 3 excited happy children, and 1 in tears thinking she will never make friends/learn the language/ have any social life as she grows up!

It tough to fit in as a family here, even though we are trying very hard! :?

Brandi

Postby Brandi » Thu Sep 03, 2009 3:56 pm

GSCE's (at O and A level) are available from the British Council in Bulgaria. You will be well advised to consult their Exams Department if you wish to have your offspring sit the GSCE's in Bulgaria as opposed to the UK.

For your offspring to be admitted to the maistream system of education in Bulgaria she/he will need their educational attainment formally recognised. To this end, you will need to obtain her last certificate (not necessarily a school leaving one, just a slip of paper that sets out details of, inter alia, the subjects studied in the last school/academic year, number of classes per year and grades obtained in each subject, by way of an example) and bearing in mind that it will have to bear an APOSTILLE stamp from the UK. All schools in the UK are able to produce such records and the apostille is to be obtained by application to Her Majesty's Foreign Office, Department of Consular Affairs.

As a next step, this will have to be officially translated into Bulgarian and LEGALISED before it is submitted to the Ministry of Education for the purpose of formal evaluation, i.e. recognition. Then, Bob's your uncle :D

Hope this helps!

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Postby Photochick » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:07 pm

Thanks for your reply, but my children have all been home educated from birth to university (for the eldest ones). My 13 yo is now enrolled for her GCSEs by distance learning, but has never attended state school (which is why she is doing her exams a few years early).

I have spoke to my UK LEA who inspects our Home Education provision and to the Education Office in Gabrovo - but it appears there is no way for them to recognize children who have not attended a state school. This has gone 'to the top' with help from the British Embassy and the Bulgarian Education Ministry in Sofia - but they are insisting that she can't start school without paperwork that doesn't exist :-( As they want 'grades' for subjects the Bulgarian ministry suggest we present her GCSE certs when she passes them. But it will be a bit late then.

If anyone has ANY ideas or suggestions I would love to hear from them. We are now desperate enough to try ANYTHING now.

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Postby Seedy » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:29 pm

This is going to sound VERY hard-hearted, I know, but aren't these the kind of things one investigates thoroughly BEFORE blithely uprooting one's kids and dragging them off to a foreign country?

I imagine that home-schooling may still cause a few problems even in the UK and it's great to read that you have been through this with other kids, since you mention "from birth to university". However, it's all well and good being "desperate" NOW but, unless I've missed something elsewhere, this seems on the face of it to be incredibly irresponsible behaviour. :(

Sorry to sound so harsh, and I'm happy to be put right, but that's how it looks to me right now....

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Postby jinx57 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:40 pm

faced the same type of cr**p you are having to deal with photochick
they even said the letter I had from the UK school was a forgery!

As it happened, we faced a family tragedy and were ripped off in BG by a brit estate agent as well as ripped of f in UK by dodgy business partner so had to return to UK - and yes, school is just fine here!

Good luck to you

Brandi

Postby Brandi » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:49 pm

Home schooling in Bulgaria is an option available SOLELY to incredibly talented children, for example young performing musicians who attain international recognition and acclaim early in life and, therefore, are seen as having a valid reason to have special arrangements in place that allow their talent and skill to develop and flourish without the "minor" aggravation of having to attend school on a day-to-day basis.

From a formal point of view (and certainly an administrative one), unless you are able to produce some verifiable proof of academic qualifications or proper records of schooling, I fear your options are largely exhausted.

Brandi

Postby Brandi » Thu Sep 03, 2009 4:52 pm

jinx57 wrote:they even said the letter I had from the UK school was a forgery!


Whilst I don't believe anyone would go as far as claiming your letter to be a forgery it was probably pointed out to you that the letter needs to be properly attested (by the method described in my first post on the subject).

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Postby Hippyboy » Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:36 pm

Whilst It looks like you won't be able to get her into a state school there may be an alternative if you can afford it . There is a private American school in VT which an English friend's daughter attended for a year . I don't know what their entry requirements are but all the classes are in English except of course Bulgarian language classes which would be essential for your daughter to fit in . Nearly all the students are in fact Bulgarian and she was able to make many friends there , but after a year she chose to move to a state school in Gabrovo where all the classes are naturally in Bulgarian , but she seems to be coping very well and has made new friends there ; she's a couple of years older than your daughter . I hope this may be of some help .
Tim .

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Postby polly » Thu Sep 03, 2009 5:52 pm

If you have home schooled your chldren in the UK (where they speak the language) why are you suddenly going down the must get them into school line in a foreign country ? Or am I missing something here ?
:oops:

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Postby Photochick » Thu Sep 03, 2009 6:15 pm

Seedy:We did look into this very carefully before we decided to relocate. Initially we intended to continue to homeschool our children, as all have thrived both socially and academically, and this would enable us to continue to travel as a family with our work.

I had two 1-2-1 meetings in Manchester with a lady from the Bulgarian Embassy in Sofia, that were set up by UKTI well before we bought property here. It was this lady who said that school here was almost compulsory and suggested the children might like to try it for social reasons as there weren't many opportunities for children to mix out of school. I asked her about entry requirements and she said she would check. She emailed me on her return to BG, and said that she had checked and that Bulgaria recognized the English education system and the fact we were home educating would not be a problem if we decided to send our children to school.

Before we moved into our house we visited the local school and met the head teacher, and were assured there were no problems with them going to school, and they were very helpful. It was the welcome from the schools and the lack of social events for children out of school that made the children decide to try it. Of course, the face we fell in love with the country helped, and my husband and I have spent a lot of trouble reorganizing our work so that we don't have to be out of the country at the same time (so one of us can stay here, so the children can stay for school). Currently I am spending alternate weeks in the UK until we can move more work over here and get a UK PA to cover routine things there.

When we first went to the school to enroll them, there was no problem other than they were a couple of years ahead of the children here in things like maths and science. It was only when they sent paperwork to the regional office they were asked for exams and certificates. I explained to the school that these didn't exist, and they said it was not a problem, and her coursework and grade from her tutors would be fine to work out her level. I said I was more than happy she started with children of the same age, and below her academic level as it would give her a chance to learn the language. The regional director came back to us and still insisted on exam certificates. Again we were told that BG reconised the UK system, and if we got a letter from the LEA authenticated by the brit embassy confirming her level of her education it would be ok.This week we have been told they will only accept exams. I have spoken at length with our LEA to see what they can do...and there are no tests for her age. The next test will be her GCSEs in the summer.

So now we have to decide whether to continue to HE all the children, and continue traveling with them all when we have long assignments (they do like seeing the world), or whether to let some go to school here, which would mean not traveling as a family (but I would like the younger ones to learn the language and make friends), return to the UK and not relocate our business at all (which we don't want to do), or for the older ones to travel with myself or my husband when we work away (I also have a 15 yo here who doesn't want to go to school as she will be doing her A levels next year) and also stay with their older siblings for some of the time.

So with face to face appointments and emails from Bulgarian embassy staff, and assurances from the local headteachers who all said there was not a problem with them starting school, and that they recommended the children went - I think we have done more research than many people!

Homeschooling is not new to the UK. It has always been done and is classed as 'private education'. in 1946 the LEA's were charged with making sure children were actually being educated, in 2005 they started to offer annual inspections and currently the law is under review again. Many, many HE children go onto university like my older ones, often sitting Oxbridge entrance exams rather than the usual A'Level route. This route is still open to her, she is only now upset, as she has been told for months about how great school is here and that she SHOULD go, and she was looking forward to making new friends. If some children go to school everyone is effected as we will have to alter our lifestyle and not travel as much or travel seperatly. Its a pity the Bulgarian authorities gave us so much mis-infomation before we got to this point!


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