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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 10:25 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
I have been picking up on the fall out from various unfortunate parents not winning their appeals.

Firstly may I say that I really hope that no one would actively de-register from the Forum after failing to win an appeal.

I know from personal experience that it hurts very deeply to lose an appeal, and the reason I am still here on this forum 5 years later is because I wanted to kick the appeals system very hard!

I decided that the best way of doing that was not to become embittered and retreat into a shell, but to learn from my experience and then share that learning with other people on here. The old mare is still plodding on after all that time, and she has kicked the system on many very satisfying occasions over the years. :D

If there is a genuine wish for an area of the Forum to be dedicated to "failed" appeal parents (please note - the appeal fails, the parents do not!) then I am sure that we can do something about that.

I tend to think that a whole new section on the topic might become a bit of a morose place, and I also think that a Sticky on the Appeals section could be very disheartening for future appeal parents.

If I started a Sticky on Everything Else (or her more frivolous sister, Rehab?) how would people feel about that?

Please let me know your views either on here or via PM.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Sat May 15, 2010 10:52 pm 
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Sally-Anne wrote:
please note - the appeal fails, the parents do not!)

Absolutely!

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 2:27 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:12 pm
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Location: Kent
Sally-Anne / Etienne.

I did feel, which is obviously a knee jerk reaction, and suggested that I would de-register from the forum. In the madness of trying to understand and read between the lines of our decision letter I just considered going on to read others were able to achieve what we had not feels so unfair. That does not mean they don't deserve it, but there are such inconsistencies and no measure of equality in decisions.

My initial feelings were that I couldn't possibly offer another parent anything of use. Our appeal was declined after all! However, with my more reasonable head on, if a question is put to the forum and I can offer factual information based on my own experience I would like to. After all without all the wonderful support I received it wouldn't be right to withdraw now would it? :lol:

So at times I may not be around, but i am sure that in the future I will be dipping in and out. Perhaps with news that DS is doing well (I certainly hope to :wink: ) and to support those who ask for help.

More on topic. I think it would be useful to have discussions on decision letters, but agree that it could become a very depressing read for those starting out.....


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 4:20 pm 
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Decision letters are meant to meet the requirements of the Code (that parents should understand the basis on which the decision was made), but explaining what is essentially a rather subjective judgement is no easy matter. Moreover, some decision letters are written by an administrator who was not even present at the hearing, and is just trying to extract the main points from the clerk's (legible?) notes.

As I've written in the pending section of the Q&As regarding one example of a decision letter conveying bad news: "Putting the outcome to one side - not an easy thing to do! - the parents thought this was a well written letter, clearly set out. They were least happy with the short paragraph "Why the Independent Appeal Panel came to the decision it did" - but that's the difficult bit!
NB: the precise wording will vary from authority to authority." [item 2, viewtopic.php?t=15025 ]

If you have a grievance it probably has more to do with a system that provides rough justice. First there's the 11+ which is objective but provides just a 'snapshot' on a particular day. Then there's the appeal which is subjective. and where there's inevitably a huge element of luck in the sort of panel you get, and how strongly the school is resisting the appeal.

On the specific issue that you weren't allowed to answer the question about a key argument, I assume the chair intervened to spare you further distress? Possible points to consider are:
    How significant would your answer have been?
    How did you answer the very last question ("Have you had sufficient time?")?
    Even if the panel had accepted the extent of the mitigating circumstances, did they consider the academic case to be strong enough?
    How would you feel about an ombudsman case that could take many months, and involve even more stress, with perhaps just a slight chance of success?
    If your complaint were successful, how would you feel about a re-hearing, possibly in the autumn term, and with the odds still against you?

T12ACY, you have earned our admiration for putting up such a tremendous fight. You have made a wonderful contribution to the forum, sharing so much with us, and always offering help to others where you could. Do stay around! :)

My feeling at the moment is that, where appeals are concerned, we shouldn't be dividing ourselves up into separate sections. We're all in this together, sharing, supporting, congratulating, commiserating ........

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 4:39 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 16, 2010 8:12 pm
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Etienne wrote:
On the specific issue that you weren't allowed to answer the question about a key argument, I assume the chair intervened to spare you further distress? Possible points to consider are:
    How significant would your answer have been?
    How did you answer the very last question ("Have you had sufficient time?")?
    Even if the panel had accepted the extent of the mitigating circumstances, did they consider the academic case to be strong enough?
    How would you feel about an ombudsman case that could take many months, and involve even more stress, with perhaps just a slight chance of success?
    If your complaint were successful, how would you feel about a re-hearing, possibly in the autumn term, and with the odds still against you?



Personally, yes the chair intervened to spare distress. I believe my answer would have been significant but just couldn't share it..... my own problem!!!!

The Panel decided the evidence of ability was not sufficient so whatever the answer it would probably have made no difference.

Would I want to move to a complaint via the ombudsman? No, I would prefer to channel my energies in to supporting DS in the here and now.

That is what good mums do :D


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 4:48 pm 
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Location: Berkshire
I think that if you feel that injustice was served you should go to the ombudsman. I personally do not care whether I have wasted the time of the LGO, the information commissioner and every one else inviolved in the sorry process, but to be honest there are far too many places where this appeals process is so inconceivably weighted against success that the more of us who stick mud in the system and clog it up so at least somebody somewhere may eventually sit up and take notice. If nothing else, at least with time and statistics the LGO office might eventually say, wait a second we keep getting complaints year after year about this same school or LEA that eventually something sensible might get done.

It is not a good/bad mother decision, it is about what's best for your child. My son has been so desperately upset by the events during his final year at primary school that I will never give up trying to prove that the test result was wrong, and the appeals process was a joke.


Edited to add : bitter and twisted, moi :wink:

Edited again to correct really stupid spelling mistakes :lol:


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 5:30 pm 
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Location: Kent
The trouble is though that there is not much in life that is fair. This is just how it is, and a lesson to be learned!

My DS has been let down very badly, do i want to continue with this fight and keep giving him potentially false hope or show him that he can prove them wrong by trying his best? He is already predicted to achieve higher SAT levels than many in his school going to a GS.

I will opt for moving on, it makes for a happier family and selfish as it may seem they matter more to me than proving the system wrong.

Edit to say: this is right for me but not everyone! There will be very valid reasons to pursue a declined appeal and I wish them lots of luck :D


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 9:33 pm 
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Joined: Tue Feb 16, 2010 11:33 am
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I agree with many of the sentiments here and I intend to stay on and make a positive contribution to the forum (if I can).

I am so, so grateful for the forum and the people who support it.

In terms of the post appeal failure thread...I think it may have some use. Not as a moaning, depressing area but rather as a part of the forum that could help people understand if an decision is one which is contrary to natural justice or maladministration or just a 'subjective' decision from a equitable process.

My feeling about my panel was that it was a charade. The impact on this for my family has been considerable:

I live in the north of the UK - my DS has two main state school choices: the Grammar School or a failing Secondary (oh and when I mean failing I really do mean failing). We have a longshot in for an appeal for a good secondary some distance from us - but this is a really long shot.

We have decided to move on and take DS to a local private school (he passed the entrance exam for this with flying colours). However, this means my wife taking on another part time job and my taking on extra work and we will have to 'tighten our belts' (considerably).


While I have moved on I feel that where the system has failed it should be challenged and that the forum could help us challenge it more effectively.


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 9:47 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 1:51 am
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PJ wrote:
We have decided to move on and take DS to a local private school (he passed the entrance exam for this with flying colours). However, this means my wife taking on another part time job and my taking on extra work and we will have to 'tighten our belts' (considerably).
.


I am pleased for you and your ds that you are looking to the future - i wish your ds all the best and am sure he will do exceptionally well at the private school, i think this forum is full of similar people who make sacrifices to send their child to an independant school - or to give them the best education they can - its that old line as parents we do what we can for our kids and its so true :)


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PostPosted: Sun May 16, 2010 10:53 pm 
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Just to add that, where there are valid grounds, we are always willing to support wholeheartedly anyone who decides to pursue a complaint. We usually do this 'behind the scenes', although the initial discussion may appear in a routine thread.

Even if the complainant is unsuccessful, it can lead to improvements which will greatly benefit others in future - so I'm a firm believer in complaining! :)
How else will things improve?

We would be less than responsible, however, if we failed to caution that:
(a) It can be a very long and very stressful route to take.
(b) There are only limited grounds that the ombudsman can consider (usually a procedural fault so serious as to cause an injustice).
(c) You may find yourself disagreeing with the ombudsman's view of exactly what 'constitutes a procedural fault so serious as to cause an injustice' - and therefore finish up more disenchanted than ever .........

I've not kept precise figures, but (a) some of our past posters have successfully gone to the ombudsman and subsequently won a re-hearing with a different panel, (b) some have successfully gone to the ombudsman but lost their re-hearing, (c) some have had their complaint turned down eventually, and (d) some have become quite ill in the process .........

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Etienne


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