New Year Celebrations In The UK

Whilst the unique family traditions followed at New Year vary as with other places in the World, there are a number of key themes followed in the UK.

New Year’s Eve/Hogmanay

  • December 31st is known as Hogmanay in Scotland and New Year’s Eve in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is the last day of the year, according to the Gregorian calendar, commonly used in modern times.
  • Throughout the UK, the New Year is often launched with a party – either at home with family and friends or at a gathering in local pubs and clubs. Festivities begin on New Year’s Eve and build up to midnight.
  • Just before midnight, people turn on a radio or television for the countdown of the last few minutes of the old year. Indeed, one of the most widely known symbols of New Year’s Eve in the UK is the image of the Clock Tower at the Palace of Westminster in London, counting down the last minutes of the old year. The first chimes of Big Ben (the bell housed in the Clock Tower) at midnight are broadcast live on radio and television. This is followed by a spectacular fireworks performance, usually centred on the London Eye, which is claimed to be the tallest Ferris wheel in Europe.
  • At the stroke of midnight, people often hug and kiss each other (even strangers) and many start singing ‘Auld Lang Syne’, a poem written by Scottish poet Robert Burns.

Getting Around On New Year’s Eve

  • Public transport systems may run to their usual schedule, but they may have a reduced service or close down totally in the late afternoon or evening. It is worth checking the arrangements in your own area to ensure you are not left stranded.
  • In the bigger towns and cities, public transport services resume services around midnight to enable people attending large scale events to return home safely. Entrance to pubs, clubs and discos may be by invitation or a pre-booked ticket only. Major train and bus stations may be congested as many young people travel to spend New Year’s Eve and Day with friends.

New Year’s Luck

  • Tradition has it that the first person over the threshold on New Year’s Day will dictate the luck brought to the household in the coming year. This is known as First Footing. At midnight on December 31, particularly in Scotland and Northern Ireland, ‘first footers’ step over the threshold bringing the New Year’s luck. The first footer usually brings a piece of coal, a loaf of bread and a bottle of whisky. On entering he must place the fuel on the fire, put the loaf on the table and pour a glass of whisky for the head of the house, all normally without speaking or being spoken to until he wishes everyone “A Guid New Year tae Ane an’ Aw” (A Good New Year to One and All). He must enter by the front door and leave by the back.
  • In Wales the back door is opened to release the Old Year at the first stroke of midnight. It is then locked up to ‘keep the luck in’ and at the last stroke the New Year is let in at the front door.

New Year’s Day Parade

  • 1st January 2013 will be the 27th Anniversary of the New Year’s Day Parade in London. This year, it starts at 11.45am on Piccadilly (at the junction with Berkeley Street outside the Ritz Hotel) and finishes around 3pm at Parliament Street. The Parade route is – Piccadilly, Piccadilly Circus, Lower Regent Street, Waterloo Place, Pall Mall, Cockspur Street, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall and Parliament Street.
  • The 2013 Parade will be filled with marching bands, cheerleaders, clowns, acrobats, kites and much more! The stars of the show will be the 33 stunning London Borough entries from across the Capital. More than 10,000 performers representing 20 countries worldwide will assemble, and more than half a million are expected to pack London’s  famous streets to see this fantastic spectacular as it weaves its way along the 2 mile route.
  • If you don’t think you’ll be able to make it, 3 hours of Live Satellite Coverage will be beamed around the world. Major broadcasters such as the BBC, CNN, Fox news, SKY and CBS are expected to cover the event.

Public Holidays

  • December 31 is not a public holiday. However, schools are closed for the Christmas holidays and many people have a day off work or leave earlier than usual. Stores and post offices are generally open, but may close earlier than usual.
  • In Scotland, the Hogmanay celebrations may last for one or two more days, as both January 1 and 2 are bank holidays. In the rest of the United Kingdom, only January 1 is a bank holiday.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.

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Key Facts About UK Politics

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The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.

UK Cost Of Living

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The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families moving to the UK. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.

Securing A Place In A UK Independent School

If you have children, it is important to begin addressing the issue of schooling prior to your departure, to ensure you and your family settle well at your destination.

Independent schools are fee paying schools. They can be single-sex or co-educational, start at any age between 4 and 18 years, can be day or boarding schools, large or small. They are independent in their finances and governance. They are funded by a combination of tuition charges, gifts and investments and are generally governed by a board of directors. All schools are registered and monitored by inspectorates approved by the Secretary of State and Ofsted.

For UK Independent Schooling, entrance is not restricted by where you live, unlike state schools.
Usually an interview is held, but if coming from abroad, this may not be necessary. There may be an academic assessment, particularly to those schools which perform particularly well at GCSE or A level. For entrance to senior schools there is usually an assessment, but this can simply be for ‘streaming’ purposes. Some schools look for high attainment in a particular area, such as sport, music, drama and/or art, while others simply want you to feel comfortable, and like the feel of the school.

Points to consider:

  • If there are places available and where you want to live.
  • Whether you can afford the fees. Costs vary dramatically from school to school and will increase as the child moves through the school. Boarding school fees can be considerably higher than the day fees (by more than 30%). School fees are typically lower in the North and for prep schools.
  • The environment you would like for your child(ren) e.g. single sex or co-educational,  religious affiliation, large or small school.
  • What the facilities are like for sports, music, drama, etc., and what the educational standard is.
  • What are the age ranges for the school? (i.e. a school that goes from 4-18 could be an excellent option to prevent having to move a child again during an assignment)
  • What is the family background / culture of pupils? (e.g. are there many expatriates / any children from the same country as you?)
  • What is the level of parental involvement? (e.g. is there a Parent/Teacher association to support the school)
  • What is your instinct about the school? How well did you get on with the staff?

Checklist for making an application:

  • Find out the specific admission procedure, as this can vary dramatically from school to school. Look at the websites and contact the school registrars directly by telephone – they are remarkable people who are always happy to give you an insight into the school.
  • A visit to the school is invaluable to make sure that it suits your child’s needs. They vary enormously and each has its own personality. A visit will give you (and your child) a proper feel for the school – how welcoming they are, what the facilities are like, what the teaching style is like and so on.
  • Meet all stated deadlines for submission of paperwork. Ensure the timeliness, completeness and accuracy of your admission document(s), or you may jeopardise your chance of securing a place.
  • Be prepared to compromise – the best private schools become very oversubscribed and can be difficult to get into. Independent schools offer a very good education, with the vast majority of pupils getting excellent examination results.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families needing school places for their children. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.

Securing A Place In A UK State School

If you have children, it is important to begin addressing the issue of schooling prior to your departure, to ensure you and your family settle well at your destination. The chosen house and neighbourhood will be most likely determined by the location of the school selected. Starting your planning early can help you to make well-informed choices and give you the best chance of securing a place at your selected school.

The UK is notoriously complex in its education, because of the variety of types of organisation that can be involved. Whilst the fee-paying sector is significant and may be perceived as providing a better education, this is not always necessarily the case.

With State Schools you will have to live within a ‘catchment zone’ before you can even apply to the school. Most good state schools are extremely oversubscribed, so you cannot always rely on a place being available, particularly if you are coming to the UK at short notice, or for a shorter assignment. Places are in the first instance offered based on who lives closest to the school.

Local authorities coordinate the admissions process for all children starting school at the beginning of a school year (in September). You can apply for a place at state schools online or by using the local authority’s common application form (you can find out your local authority here). The deadline for applications is normally October for entry in the following September, with places being allotted at the beginning of the following year. If you require your child to start at any other time in the year, you will more than likely be referred to the local authority.

Church schools have their own admittance criteria – i.e. ‘practicing a religion’ may be a requirement, or at least improve your chances of obtaining a place.

Checklist for deciding on a state school

  • Find out which schools in your area have places (a list can be obtained from your local authority).
  • Read relevant school prospectuses and/or websites.
  • Compare achievement and attainment data and the latest school reports from Ofsted.
  • Find out the catchment area for the school(s) you are interested – these are usually made up of a list of roads (this can usually be found on school websites).
  • Find out the specific admission procedure – this can vary from school to school.
  • Find out what extended services they offer outside of normal working hours (e.g. breakfast clubs, after school activities) and what they cost.
  • Visit the school to make sure that it really does suit your child’s needs (and take along a pen and paper to make notes). A school visit can be invaluable in giving you (and your child) a proper feel for the school – how welcoming they are, what the facilities are like, what the teaching style is like and so on. It is also an opportunity to find out detailed information on admissions, work out possible travel routes and find out about any parent associations you may like to get involved in.
  • Meet all stated deadlines for submission of paperwork, or you will have little (or no) chance of securing a place.

The Relocation Consultancy are experts in destination services and provide a range of options to support families needing school places for their children. For a FREE consultation on the services that may be suitable for you, call +44 (0)118 947 0029 or email info@therelocationconsultancy.com.