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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 7:48 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 9:27 pm
Posts: 38
Location: Wirral
I'm sure we're not the only disappointed parents out there now that 11+ results are known and appeals are out of the way. Just wondering if anyone on Wirral would like to share their experiences.

Our DD failed her 11+ test by 2 points. Pass mark was 236, she scored 234. No words can describe our disappointment with this result. DD current Headteacher made a referral unbeknown to us to an Independent Assessment Board back in January. The outcome of this referral was Not Grammar. No additional information was given on how the IAB arrived at this decision.

Leading up to the time of our DD taking the 11+ our family was going through h*ll due to our eldest teenage daughters severe behavioural problems. These problems came to a head around the time of the 11+ when we were forced to make the decision to move eldest daughter out of the family home with ongoing support from us. Obviously, this was a distressing time for everyone concerned.

Now that the 11+ results are known, I am convinced that these events must of had a detrimental effect on DD. Like fools, we never made DD school aware of the issues going on at home. We were so absorbed with all the problems with our eldest daughter that unfortunately we did not consider the impact on our youngest until it was too late!

On 6th March, we lodged our appeal citing the above family problems as mitigating circumstances. On 27th April we attended our appeal hearing. We felt that the panel members were unsympathetic and biased towards the authority. One panel member said it was my fault that DD appeal with IAB had failed, as we hadn't notified the school of the family problems. He suggested that the outcome of IAB appeal would probably of been successful if we'd informed the school. I felt it necessary to admit that I was guilty in this respect.

Questions were also asked regarding DD academic capability. The only evidence we had with us were predicted SAT results for Year 6 (5b's). The chair of the panel said he would expect higher grades than this as evidence of suitability to attend Grammar School. We left the appeal hearing feeling despondent.

Eight days after our appeal hearing, we receive by post a decision letter extract as follows:

Having heard and examined the submissions made by the education authority and yourself, the panel concluded that compliance with your preference that DD be admitted to Wirral Grammar Girls School would be incompatible with the arrangements for admission to Wirral Grammar Girls School which are based on selection by reference to ability and aptitude and further it would also prejudice the efficient use of resources.

The appeals panel then considered very carefully whether DD should nonetheless be admitted to Wirral Grammar Girls School in view of the particular facts that you presented in support of your case. These were summarised by the Chair at the conclusion of the hearing and included the following:

Mitigating circumstances included severe family problems and inappropriate remarks by DD’s teacher causing her distress before the exams.

I very much regret to say that the panel were not of the opinion that these factors were sufficient to outweigh incompatibility with selection under the LEA's admission arrangements or the prejudice that would be caused by the admission of your daughter to the school. Your appeal in respect of Wirral Grammar Girls School has therefore been unsuccessful


If only we'd discovered this forum before our appeal hearing. We would of been much better prepared. The whole experience has been deeply distressing to DD and us as parents.

Since discovering this forum, we've decided to challenge the admission authority, as it would appear that our appeal/hearing did not wholly comply with the School Admission Appeal Code. We currently await their response.

Perhaps ours is just an unfortunate experience, but would be really interested to hear from anyone else.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 8:27 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 9:27 pm
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Location: Wirral
Just to clarify, my daughter with behavioural problems is 19 years old. I hope no one out there suspected child abandonment when I mentioned in my previous post that she had been moved out of the family home :oops:


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 9:35 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 1:45 pm
Posts: 73
Location: Wirral
So sorry to hear of your tough time with Wirral. I took them to the ombudsman last year over the way they handled the appeals - we got a second appeal.

Really not sure what the way forward is for you - hopefully someone with more experience will advise, but very strongly feel that Wirral should abandon the IAB in the current format - not enough parents see the bit about telling the school if there is anything that may be affecting the child, after all, you aren't thinking about your appeal usually when helping your child with past papers!!

Worth a call to the ombudsman helpline - they are very understanding, but be prepared, it does lengthen an already stressful process.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 9:41 pm 
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Location: Wirral
[quote="Grumpy!"]So sorry to hear of your tough time with Wirral. I took them to the ombudsman last year over the way they handled the appeals - we got a second appeal.

Thank you for your kind words of support Grumpy. Could I be cheeky and ask how you got on with the 2nd appeal. We are seriously considering complaining to the Ombudsman also.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 9:48 pm 
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Joined: Fri May 02, 2008 1:45 pm
Posts: 73
Location: Wirral
Ah well, that is the downside - despite the summing up from the school's governor being very positive at the second appeal, we still didn't win! The appeals were re-run last year as they turned down all the children who had been referred to the IAB - which no one, including the panel, agreed with! The ombudsman was very critical of the process.

The reasons for turning you down seem to suggest that they didn't believe your argument. :evil: With only 2 points off, that's pretty unfair - we were only 3 off last year, the school were aware of extenuating circumstances, but didn't want to put them down on paper.... so you just can't win sometimes.

Hope you've got a good fall back school - we did so process was less stressful than it could have been.

Good luck!

(ps you can tell I didn't really get closure on this, as I am still here a year later.....!)


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 10:06 pm 
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Location: Wirral
Grumpy, we're so sorry to hear that your 2nd appeal wasn't successful. You've got me wondering now if the Headteachers referral to IAB was a good or bad thing. We had no control, it happened without our knowing and up til now we assumed it would strengthen our appeal. It's very worrying that last year all the children who had been referred to IAB had their appeals rejected. Makes us wonder if this is still the case now.

We've requested a copy of the clerks notes to see if we can establish what if anything was taken into consideration at the appeal. Will post any additional information, if/when it becomes available.

Thanks for your replies


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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 10:01 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 26, 2009 2:54 pm
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Location: wirral
So sorry to hear the appeal was unsuccessful; we too have been down the appeals process this year without a positive outcome and found the whole thing enormously stressful. I know what Grumpy means about unfinished business as I too am still on this site - I've found it hugely helpful.
If you are seriously considering a second appeal I'd say go for it if you have the strength and energy. That way you will know you have gone to the end of the road for your chid and could do no more. Best of luck.


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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 5:57 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 9:27 pm
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Location: Wirral
Hi cagney40. Thanks for taking the time to reply. Sorry to hear your appeal has also been unsuccessful. The appeals process is, as you say soooo stressful and takes over your life completely. We don't want to go down the 2nd appeal route, as could really do without the added stress. However, we can't ignore the way Wirral have messed up the appeals process for us and probably many more, just as they did last year :evil: We just wanted a fair, impartial hearing, nothing more.

In an earlier post, Grumpy suggested that they didn't believe our argument for mitigating circumstances. I'm sure that this is the case and can understand to some degree why there might’ve been an element of doubt. We couldn't present evidence by way of medical notes, child and family counselling/school records as my daughter with behavioural problems is 19. This meant that as she's classified as an adult, we couldn't access any personal information relating to her (Data Protection Act). This was stated on the appeal form, so it will be very interesting when we get the Clerks notes, to see whether this lack of evidence, was a contributing factor in the panel rejecting our appeal. We'll be so upset if this is the case as we tried to get evidence, but couldn't due to circumstances beyond our control.

It all seems so unfair. Like other parents on here, we are honest, hardworking people, who strive to give our children the best possible start in life and a quality secondary education in order that they become skilled, mature, responsible adults.

Our aim now is to request a 2nd appeal hearing with another panel. I've written to Wirral Admissions requesting another appeal on the grounds that they are in breach of School Admissions Appeal Code. Evidence of this can be found in the small booklet they sent out titled "Primary and Secondary School Admissions and Appeals, A Guide for Parents". On page 18 of the booklet, there is a flow chart demonstrating the Appeals Process. There are 3 procedures on this flowchart that Wirral admissions authority have failed to meet with our appeal. Hopefully this will warrant a 2nd appeal, ideally for all Wirral Parents if it was possible.

Will let everyone know as soon as we get a reply.


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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 7:50 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 10, 2009 9:27 pm
Posts: 38
Location: Wirral
OMG I've just found these minutes on Wirral Learning Grid - School Admissions. My interpretation is that if your child has been referred to the Independent Assessment Board, you have no chance of a fair appeal. Please read and let me know your interpretation of the underlined text.

New Schools Admissions Appeals Code of Practice

JB brought to the attention of the Members of the Forum, the new Code of Practice on Admission Appeals and that the Democratic Services Division of the Legal Department are looking at coordinating all admission appeals. The guidance given in the New Code does stipulate that, where an Authority operates a process to review pupils whose assessment is not a true indication of the child’s potential, then the Appeals Panel cannot review the case again and their ability to grant such appeals is greatly constrained. AH commented that he felt this could be open to challenge and that the status of the IAB would need to be strengthened and that submissions were more consistent and objective. The Members were surprised to hear that the New Code of Practice came into effect from February 2008. JB will circulate a summary of the code when it becomes available


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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 8:08 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7059
This issue is discussed in the Q&As:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/11plus ... rs.php#b18

If I recall correctly, this was a problem in Wirral last year (and the document you're quoting refers to 2008).

What we really need to know is what Wirral's current policy is. If they were going to argue that the referral to the IAB affects your rights at an independent appeal, I would have thought it should have been made clear in the authority's case (sent to you a week or so before the hearing).

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Etienne


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