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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 9:42 pm 
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Following on from the advice in the Q&As about writing a letter of appeal, I thought it might be of interest to take a practical example.

Here is the letter of appeal for Mary in Buckinghamshire.

Note the clear layout (introduction + academic points + extenuating circumstances + conclusion)

Note the brevity (less than a side of A4)

It’s rather good, isn’t it?

Notice any flaws?

(If the long list of academic evidence makes you lose heart, bear in mind the possibility that Mary might be fictitious …….)


Dear Members of the Panel

We would be grateful if you would consider this appeal for our daughter Mary on the following grounds:

Academic Evidence

* Attained 119 and 118 in the 11+
* Recommended as a “2”, and expected to pass with 121-130 by school
* “Very strongly” supported by the headteacher.
* High grades for achievement - please see attached copy of last report.
* VR scores of 126 (=96th percentile) in 2006, and 123 (=93rd percentile) in 2005 – please see Alternative Test Scores in the headteacher’s statement. [1]
* Level 3 for KS1 SATs
* Predicted level 5 for KS2 in English, Maths and Science
* Top group for Maths and English (in a high performing school) [2]
* A well-rounded character. Sociable. Actively participates in church youth group, local swimming club, etc. Junior chess champion. [3]
* We, and the school, and indeed Mary herself feel that she is more than suitable to be considered for a Grammar school placement and that she would have no trouble in achieving and maintaining the academic standard required. [4]

Extenuating Circumstances

* Mary’s grandfather died at the beginning of July. This was obviously an upsetting time for the whole family, and did not help in the lead-up to the 11+. [5]
* Mary felt under a great deal of pressure to do well in the exams because her elder sister is already attending grammar school. [6] Knowing our children as we do, we have absolutely no doubt that Mary is actually much brighter than her sister. [7]

To sum up, we do feel very strongly that she is definitely grammar school material and that the structure and ethos of a Grammar will provide her with the best possible educational opportunities. We also believe that the reasons outlined above provide an adequate explanation as to why she fell short of the pass mark by such a small margin. [8]

Thank you for taking the time to consider our appeal, we look forward to meeting with you and answering your questions.


[1] Good to see at least two alternative VR scores. Shows consistency.
[2] Useful to have a context for "top sets", but only include the bit in brackets if it can be justified. The panel will have statistics showing how well the school has done at the 11+. If more than a third of the children qualified, it’s above average. The panel might also know how well the school has been performing at KS2 relative to other Bucks schools – is it in the top 50%?)
[3] Should be omitted, apart from “junior chess champion”. Focus solely on the two criteria: academic points and extenuating circumstances. Anything else is a distraction, unless it’s an intellectual pursuit.
[4] Should be omitted. The school can speak for itself. Parents’ and Mary’s views are not evidence and don’t count! It’s for the panel to decide.
[5] Three months before the 11? Any evidence that schoolwork deteriorated?
[6] Sibling rivalry is understandable – but difficult to prove.
[7] There’s no point in forcefully asserting things. This isn’t evidence.
[8] Yet more assertions! With weak extenuating circumstances, some cautious humility might be appropriate, e.g. “We hope you would be prepared to take the view that these extenuating circumstances are sufficient to explain a gap of only two marks”. (I would only use the phrase “gap of only two marks” for 119. Otherwise: “shortfall in marks”. (Sometimes parents talk about a gap of "only six marks"! Every point difference could represent many hundreds of children. The Richter scale comes to mind!)

The extenuating circumstances in Mary's case are weak because there’s no evidence. With scores of 119 and 118, however, this might not matter too much. The academic evidence is certainly very strong.

I think it very likely “Mary”’s appeal will succeed! :D

Only my views. Hope they help .....

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Appeals galore!
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 10:42 pm 
Etienne, thank you so much for sharing this skeleton appeal letter with us. I was saving a pm to send you this weekend for comments on our proposed appeal letter but with such a good outline I'll leave you in peace.

Mary did well, thank her for sharing as well!!!

Regards


Ambridge

Can't log in and can't print it out....not on my usual computer though so it might be me


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2006 11:11 pm 
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Thank you, Ambridge. I'll pass on your message to Mary. :D

No more PM'd letters of appeal for me to comment on, please. I'll look at the ones I already have, but there aren't enough hours in the day for me to comment individually on everyone's. The line has to be drawn somewhere. :(

As I've written elsewhere, I wouldn't attach huge importance to the letter of appeal. The supporting evidence, and the questioning at the appeal, are likely to be what really counts.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Thank You!
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 12:46 pm 
Hello Etienne

Just want to say a huge thank you for this example of an appeal letter.
I too was setting aside time over the weekend to compose mine(which i was dreading) and you have now made my job so much easier.
Good Luck to everyone going through the appeal process and thank you for your site - it's a lifesaver at such a stressful time.
Regards
Ana


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 1:03 pm 
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Dear Ana

You're very kind ..........

Good luck

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2006 9:36 pm 
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Just in case anyone was thinking of using size 8 font to pack as much as possible into a page of A4 ........................ :(

The "Letter of Appeal for Mary" is 340 words long, and I've suggested removing certain phrases, so the final version will be shorter.

The simpler you can make your case, the better, because (including all the evidence) a panel might have hundreds of pages of paperwork to get through in just one day of appeals. Don't let the panel drown in too much detail. List your key arguments with bullet points, and make reference as appropriate to the supporting evidence ("See letter from .... dated ......") for further information.

Remember you'll have the opportunity to answer questions and go into more detail at the appeal itself, so it's not as if all the points you think might be worth a mention will not be considered.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 01, 2006 12:45 am 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Etienne

I think this is one of your best posts ever, and that is saying something! (A year earlier would have been great - I know so well where I went wrong in the high emotion of the appeal process, and your post really highlights the traps brilliantly.)

Please could I remind everyone that you need to word your Appeal letter personally to suit your case. If a panel should receive 10 identically worded letters it will not be helpful to anyone!

My own summary would be:

- Try to have one key message - proof of your child's academic ability - plus any truly significant mitigating circumstances, with evidence of these from somewhere.
- Keep it brief - one page only, plus any Head's report and the supporting evidence as numbered appendices.
- Point the panel to your supporting evidence in the appendices, but don't repeat it verbatim. Just make them want to look for it - and make it easy to find.

Think of the motto of the radio show "Just A Minute" - "no hesitation, deviation or repetition". The panel only has a very few minutes to look at your papers, and to consider your case on the day.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 2:58 pm 
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Thank you so much, Sally-Anne and others, for your very kind words.

It's the fact that I don't attach excessive importance to the letter of appeal, and some reservations of my own about "identikit" letters, that has until now made me hesitate to offer a detailed example.

However, I think that current panel members will almost certainly rejoice if they start getting shorter letters and a clearer layout!

And I hope that, as the facts of each case are different, so the content will vary ...........
By the way, don't forget to change the name "Mary" as appropriate .... :D

Best wishes

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 11:01 am 
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this is an absolute godsend! i was really stressing about doing my appeal and had absolutely no idea where to begin, what to put in and what to leave out, thanks to you i now feel that i have some kind of structure to my appeal letter, thanks so much


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 13, 2012 12:16 pm 
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You've managed to unearth a very old thread there! :lol:

A similar version of the letter can be found in the Q&As:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... aneous#e11

Important to note that most appeals will also have to address the issue of oversubscription, so you ought to include reasons for wanting a place too.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... -school#c2
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... school#c18

Good luck!

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Etienne


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