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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:14 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:42 am
Posts: 5
Location: Medway
Hi, can anyone give me some guidance, maybe on their experiences ... My son didn't have a good day on the Medway test, he was a bit 'out of sorts' on the day, but social and self pressure being what it is, he wanted to go, rather than sit the exam another day, in another school in a strange environment. He was not far off the mark, but none the less he was under the 525-pass mark.

We requested a review, with the full support of the school. In fact I went to the school and assisted to ensure that I was aware of all example pieces of work being sent in, and that it was collated and compiled properly, to make easier work for the reviewer. I submitted my request with a covering letter, as did the school.

We discussed in detail the possible outcome with the school and key teachers. These staff have been in the same school for over 15 years and have proven to be pretty accurate in their judgement. Their opinion was that although he was not an academic Olympian, his schoolwork was easily adequate to demonstrate his ability, and could foresee no problem.

His English, which is usually his strong point was remarkably low, so our focus of attention was on his school work in this subject.

You have probably guessed the outcome of the review, which I am not best pleased with. I have had his schoolwork assessed four times now, be professional teachers and coaches, and no one can see what the problem is. . other than Medway EA. Their Review comments ...all 3 of them , written in very poor English , commented on the school draft work not being in his school book , but on loose paper , and the grammar in his science book not being as good as in his English book.

That's it . No actual fact or statement, that maybe direct or indirect speech was not used, poor spelling, ability to maintain the thread of a story ... nothing other than subjective comment.

When we submitted the school work, his loose paper (draft work) was stapled to the final work, accidentally this was folded, and two pieces of work were double stapled, making reading of the final and draft pieces virtually impossible.

When the schoolwork was returned from the council, the staples had not been removed

I don't think that they even looked at it.

Looks like I am stuck with the appeal to the school (Grammar) to actually get my placement.

I have written to the council and the Director of Child Services lodging a grievance about this, to which I was at least expecting a meeting , but so far no luck.

As a matter of principle , in addition to the future of my son's education I want to get this decision overturned and feel that my son have not had a fair review , or at least been given an explanation as to what is wrong with his writing ability.

I am finding this a hard door to open .... has anyone ever managed to get an audience with , or successfully got Medway to reconsider.

In expectation

AJ


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:30 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:45 pm
Posts: 827
Location: Medway & Kent
Hi AJ, what a nightmare you seem to be having. Can I ask your son's score - was it within 10 marks of the pass mark?
I know of another parent who is in a similar situation to you. Their child's levels are way above what is required for grammar school, however the review board have turned her down and taken another child with lower grades. It appeared that between the school and the review board the math book was lost and was not actually found so no math was reviewed and a decision was still made. They had a comment that in a piece of science work the child had not made a full conclusion.
The whole situation lends you to wonder what is the exact process of review? I am afraid I cannot help you with this problem, however please be heartened that the general feeling is there will be lots of appeal places available in March after allocation day, as so many out of area candidates sat this test and probably won't take up offers.
I wish you luck. Please let us know how you get on.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:28 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:42 am
Posts: 5
Location: Medway
I can tell you many a similar storey. His overall score was 501 . Before the actual test he had sat a number of ' assessment' test. Not the ones from WHS but with private coaches. Generally his core has been about the 550 marl all year. His Math and VR were OK, but his English score was remarkably low, and then with his age adjustment, we have ended up where we are. From his school work , his worst English piece is graded at 4b and his best at 5a , we can only guess that he completely missed the plot on the creative writing. His entire school has unusually low English scores across the , which is very strange. This is a school that has a proven consistent record . They expected maybe 10% off their pupils not to get their expected grades. As it turned out ONLY 20% got their expected grades and the majority are at least 20 - 30 points LOWER than they should be , as due to low scoring in the English. Even the school have appealed to try an ascertain what is wrong with the English paper. Its as if the school have not been teaching the children correctly , or the papers for this school have not been marked marked against the same criteria as for other school. Within the school , there is a pair of twins ... one is a Mensa child and the other is not so gifted , and has some learning difficulties and was not to sit the test ..... would you believe they got the SAME English exam mark ???
The English teacher has worked in the same school for over 20 years , and is completely bemused.
Unfortunately , the council stance is that they have no evidence that the marking and examination process was in appropriate , therefore they do not have a case to answer , and have pointed out that we can wait to the next stage and raise these issues in our appeal cases.

My answer to this is not repeatable here , as this in addition to a few other facts that I have come across , implies that my son's review was not processed correctly. I actually suspect , that his work was at the lower end of the pile , and once the 2% target have reached , the lids came off the sandwich box , and the rest is history. Whether we are successful or not this is a miss justice , and we should not be in this position at all. Through misadministration or some other clerical error , I am having to jump through hoop after hoop , because of a 'criteria' that has been applied to my sons school work.

He is in top stream in Maths and English at school , has letters of recommendation from his teachers , school principle and the tutors / coaches that we have had to use for the Kent test (our backup plan). All this has been presented as evidence , but most of the information was rejected (deemed as not based on official curriculum). In the meantime , I know of many other children who have had a successful review , and I also know the quality of the other children's work , which is far lower . How can they get through , and I can't ?

This is the reason why I am requesting under the data protection and freedom of information Act , to see the exam papers , as so far the only detrimental comment I have on his work from the council is related to his science , in fact the comment is that his grammar is better in his English work than in his science. !!! , which acknowledges he is capable , if not consistent.

Sorry I have gone on a bit here , but as you know , this becomes personal and full of passion. We are not just upset because our son didn't pass , and are not trying to force a square peg in a round hole. We have 2 other older children with different abilities. We just request a fair and equal chance for our son who ahs proven his ability in his school work , but not , unfortunately in this exam.

I will keep you posted with developments. I have requested a meeting with the head of child services , have ongoing dialogue with the head of admissions , and should be meeting with the ombudsmen next week.

I will keep you abreast of developments.
TTFN AJ


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:49 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:21 pm
Posts: 217
Location: Kent & Medway
I am really puzzled about this thread. It is not true that "there will be lots of appeal places available in March after allocation day". it doesn't work like that! In 2006 there were just five successful grammar school appeals at the community grammar schools in Medway (Chatham Boys, Fort Pitt and The Math) although there were over 50 places left vacant. Appeal Panels are not there to fill up grammar school places, but to assess whether the Review process has been fair, and if not whether the child is of grammar school ability.

Whilst I am impressed with someone meeting up with the ombudsman long before the process has worked through, I am astonished, as this would break all the rules of the ombudsman office, for he is not allowed to comment on cases that have not been brought before him.

Schools should not be giving parents control over what work is submitted, as it may give an unfair advantage.

The whole point of the Review is to select children who are able to impress through their school work. Inevitably some children with surprisingly low marks will win out over children with higher marks, otherwise there would be no point in it and all 25% could be selected on scores. The Review should provide an alternative means of impressing the Panel.

The decision to quote tutor's evidence may well have hindered the case, for if the child cannot pass the test with private coaching, should they be awarded a grammar school place over someone who has made progress without such help. Certainly appeal and review panels will take this view.

However, all this pales into insignificance beside the new Code of Practice for Admission Appeals which has now passed into law. You will find the implications spelled out at website address removed by a moderator, advertising is against forum rules
as far as I know, the only published account of the implications for Medway.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:44 am 
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Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:45 pm
Posts: 827
Location: Medway & Kent
Peter - I know of at least one successful appeal for the Rochester Girls School actually, a friend's daughter.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 11:54 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 7:21 pm
Posts: 217
Location: Kent & Medway
Indeed. My comments referred solely to the three community grammar schools. Rochester Grammar, Chatham Girls and Rainham Mark have a different appeal panel set up, and I am personally aware of a number of successful appeals to each in recent years.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 01, 2008 7:34 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 04, 2007 5:45 pm
Posts: 827
Location: Medway & Kent
Don't lose heart AJ, keep positive. If you truly believe that your child should be at grammar school, you still have a chance of appeal. It is true not everybody gets through appeal but you do still have a chance. Perhaps your child doesn't need to know though, to save any future upset.

Have you a parent's evening coming up - if so, you could find out what levels your son is projected to achieve in the SATs.
Do keep us informed of your progress though, I wish you and your son the best of luck. :)


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 Post subject: similar story...
PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2008 11:51 am 
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Joined: Sat Sep 22, 2007 11:15 am
Posts: 4
In my daughters review, the panel member (who failed to identify him/herself on the form) stated that,

"her grammatical skills were WEEK"

Wonder which grammar school they went to ?!


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