Analysis of the school's general case for FCO
We've now compared the 2014 school case as set out above
with the 2013 version which can be found here: viewtopic.php?f=12&t=31963
The Selection Review Process has been designed to comply with paragraph 3.13 of the Admission Appeals Code which states:
'3.13b) where a local review process has been followed, the panel must only consider whether each child's review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way and if there is no evidence that this has been done, the panel must follow the process in paragraph 3.13a) above'
This year they've quoted 3.13a in full as well as 3.13b, which is more balanced.
The following explanation demonstrates the care with which the Review Panel process was created and provides sufficient evidence to show that that the decisions of the Selection Review Panel are 'fair, consistent and objective'.
Omitted this year. Probably wise to let the appeal panel decide what is or isn't 'sufficient' .......
There is no requirement set out in the Code that a local review process should replicate or replace the independent appeal process as there is still a right of appeal remaining.
No change - but what a shame that any mention of this in the information sent to parents was minimal.
The decision was recorded by an independent clerk and observed by an independent moderator.
The phrase "observed by an independent moderator" has been removed!
The SRP will normally expect there to be strong evidence of ....... exceptional reasons for underperformance in the tests.
Interesting that this wording is no longer used - especially when the headteachers manual still
says: "The SRP will normally expect there to be ........ exceptional reasons for underperformance in the tests."
Panel members report that they spent on average five hours preparation in advance of each meeting.
No such report is included for 2014.
Presumably, when parents worked out last year the average amount of time spent preparing a case, the figure didn't impress.
Declarations or interest forms were completed and collected in advance from panel members (including moderators and clerks) and this information was used to ensure that headteachers did not consider any cases where they had knowledge of the child or a link to the primary school.
This remains the same - which rather begs the question why one of the grammar school heads has re-defined this and is on record as saying it only applies if "it is for example [a primary school] where his wife works
", or "he knows a parent or child personally or socialises with the head
On this basis some heads have declared that they have no links at all with any
primary school .......
Information about a family's secondary school preferences was not provided to the SRP.
Unchanged from last year - but the family's home address was
provided, so the review panel could potentially be influenced by what some
of the grammar school preferences were likely to be. For example, if the head of a grammar school in Buckingham were to see an address in Marlow, he might reasonably conclude that that child was unlikely to be applying to his school. But what about a child with an address in north Bucks/Milton Keynes?
All panel members have been trained ....
This remains the same. (Our understanding, though, is that there has been no follow-up training this year.)
Once this process was complete, in line with council clerking policies, they then destroyed the hand written notes.
This has now been omitted. No doubt the furore around 'destroying the evidence' last year had something to do with it .......
The moderation Process included pupils as follows
- Cases referred by the Selection Review panels (both qualified and unqualified children)
- All review cases for pupils scoring 120 - 115 inclusive who were still not qualified
- All cases for pupils scoring 114 to 107 inclusive who were not qualified and who were recommended as 1.1
This is new. Anyone with a score of 114-107, but without a 1:1, could reasonably ask what objective criteria primary school heads were meant to use to arrive at a 1:1 when there are no precise criteria listed in the headteachers manual.
Of course, headteachers are absolutely entitled to their professional opinion - but a review process must
satisfy three separate criteria at the appeal stage: 'fair, consistent & objective'.
A glance at all the grids summarising headteacher recommendations will quickly show that a 1:1 from one headteacher is not the same as a 1:1 from another.
The Selection Review Panel Process was 'fair, consistent and objective' in coming to the decision that there was insufficient evidence to deem [child's name] qualified for a grammar school education.
This was the ringing endorsement/conclusion at the end of the 2013 case .......
It has vanished!
Not surprising really, when one of the grammar school heads has helpfully tried to explain the objective criteria used in the review process. The gist of the conversation was follows:
Question: "What objective criteria were used?
Response: "There is no tick list. It's a 'weighing up' of the evidence.
Question: "Isn't that subjective then?
Response: "The information needed is clear.
Question: "Yes, the form specifies what school results should be given, but it does not set out what thresholds are required?
Response: "There is no tick list or list of criteria but a 'weighing up' of the information provided which is different in each case.
Question: "So it's a subjective judgement?
Even if the school's general case were flawless - which we suggest it clearly isn't - there would still need to be evidence that the review process was applied fairly, consistently and objectively in each
individual case. For this the 'clerk's record' will require very careful scrutiny.
See also: FCO generic questions.