Image of the RAF Lossiemouth vicinity for a posting to Scotland

The RAF Families Federation recently spoke to a family to find out how it was for them, relocating to Scotland on a new posting to RAF Lossiemouth.  

How was your relocation to Scotland and how are you finding the posting so far?  

It was a long drive! You enter Scotland and the sat nav still tells you there’s a five hour journey ahead! Pass Glasgow and the scenery is worth the distance! The physical move was challenging with the distance as you’re allocated four days with removals, two to pack, one to travel and then fourth day to deliver. We had to split up and both took an end each. Thankfully the walkaway was available at the time as I didn’t have the energy to move, clean and then commit to the long journey north. So I took an extra night with family and arrived after the quarter had been marched into. Definitely get help with the move and ask a friend to proxy if you can as you cannot just nip back to clean or hand over; it’s quite a drive. 

Loving the posting so far, we had 12 years in total in Oxfordshire so we welcomed the change to somewhere new. We were pleasantly surprised with everything we had on our doorstep. Big Tesco, Asda, Retail parks and gyms. Plenty to do and if not, we have Inverness and Aberdeen as our local bigger towns. Our children loved that the beach is only a 10 minute drive away and we can just pop down after school for a walk (or paddle in the summer) or head out for a woodland walk. The sunrises and sunsets are beautiful and worthy of photographing. The area is stunning and really makes up for the distance you are from loved ones in England. 

Were there any organisations or resources that you found particularly helpful in supporting your move? 

Facebook! Having friends up here already really helped as did speaking to people already here. With the limited information from the online housing system it was nice to get floorplans, photos of similar properties we could move into and get things like room measurements and school advice from people already here. We already followed the RAF Lossiemouth page and their social team are great at sending out useful information. 

How did your family find the transition to the Scottish education system?

Transitioning to the Scottish system was fairly straight forward. We contacted Moray Council – everything is in one place and complete your application forms. The school districts are fairly set, so you apply to your catchment school. If an alternative school is your first choice, you can apply but there’s no guarantee that you’ll be placed there. I accidently completed the wrong forms for my children but the team were on hand to steer me in the right direction. There has been some concerns about children going into a different school year or repeating due to the cut off in Scotland being 28th February, where in England it’s the end of August. In Moray, you can request that your child stays in the same academic year they started in – it’s not obvious but the forms are on the website.  

There is a good website for Scottish schooling forceschildrenseducation.org.uk which can help if you’re not sure which year your child will be entering. Initially our biggest confusion was the years being numbered differently – England starts with Reception and Scotland just start in P1.  

As we left at the end of the English Summer Term and started the new academic year in August in Scotland we ensured the previous school had transferred all paperwork to the new school before term started. We also had contact from the teachers prior to beginning the new term. Learning new apps for classes was fun, but it was fairly similar to what we were used to. My daughter has excelled as has my son so we’ve had no educational issues. If we were returning to England after our tour I’d be mindful of the differences in education as they do teach differently, but we’re here for the long run and hopefully will not need to change systems again.  

Was there any information you wish you had known earlier about education and childcare in Scotland? 

Childcare for work is tricky, it’s not straight forward for people to set up as childminders and the schools don’t seem to have as many easily accessible before and after school clubs. The school holiday clubs are also hard to book into unless you are currently in receipt of them. So prior warning on that would have been helpful. As yet we haven’t needed to gain use of one but it still remains a concern for when I do find employment. 

From your experience in Scotland so far, what would you say are the main differences in the English and Scottish education systems? 

So far, from my experience the Scottish system seems to feel a little more relaxed on learning. Our previous school did send a lot of homework, lots of emphasis on home learning in addition to classroom. Here it seems a little more laid back and a slower pace for the children. Lots of time to reflect and correct skills. Both children have excelled and adapted quite well to the new style. How much of this is due to COVID remains to be seen and it may change as life returns to normal. For now we have no regrets in moving. 

What advice would you give to Service families considering a posting to Scotland? 

Do it! Don’t put it off. If you’re an outdoorsy family and love to wander, it’s really a beautiful place. We saw dolphins in the sea last weekend while on a beach walk, they were so close to shore it was spectacular! Regularly spot red squirrels in the woods, Roseisle Beach has the old WWII gun bunkers on the beach as you walk towards Findhorn. Moray is the perfect place to spot the Northern Lights; I can see them regularly from our garden, even with light pollution. Shopping and everyday living is really well catered for. The Cairngorms National Park is a short drive away if you need a skiing fix, or want to meet their very own reindeer herd. You can nip across to Inverness or Aberdeen if you need a bigger shopping centre and Elgin doesn’t have what you need or if the drive to England seems too far then you can use both airports for internal flights home.  

Only additional consideration I would have is if my children were English Year 9/ Scottish S3 – you’d need to think about GCSEs or Scottish Highers – I’d do some further research [further information on ‘Getting to know the Scottish qualifications’ is available from Forces Children’s Education]. It doesn’t affect us as our children are primary but that would be the only time I would have a longer think before coming.  

I remember watching a video on Facebook from the current Station Commander – you fight to get people to Lossiemouth, but then you also struggle to post them on - everyone wants to stay, and he wasn’t wrong! 

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