Thanks for the info. You worded your complaint very well, and clearly have a good understanding of the process!
Q1. We (now!) understand that the panels for the first appeals would have taken no account of the (very strong) evidence of DD’s ability, since at the time they would have believed that the LRP was valid. While the Authority have granted second appeals, they have not put in writing that the LRP was flawed, and therefore that the new panel not only can, but should, make its own assessment of DD’s ability. Clearly, given the chain of events, it would be perverse if the panel did not, but what can or should we do to check or ensure that they will?
Only by writing to ask - but I recognise that some authorities/appeal administrators can be more helpful than others!
Another possibility (but leaving it very late) is to ask the chair at the start of the hearing. Strictly speaking
, the chair is meant anyway to offer an explanation of what will happen:
2.31 At the start of the hearing, the panel chair must:
b) explain the procedure clearly and simply, giving details of the issues which the panel will be addressing .....
I have the distinct impression, though, judging by comments we've had on the forum, that the (already complicated) process can be rather murky in your part of the world!
Q2. We have received conflicting advice on what we need to demonstrate or prove:
- Do we need to satisfy them of grammar ability, or is making the waiting list evidence enough?
Grammar school ability, yes. However, an appeal panel must not
be told where someone is on the waiting list.
3.51 The School Admission Code at paragraph 3.19 requires admission authorities to maintain waiting lists for oversubscribed schools. When hearing appeals, panels must not take account of where the admission authority has placed a child on the waiting list, or of the fact that appeals have not been made in respect of other children on the waiting list.
3.52 When making decisions on appeals, panels must not determine where a child should be placed on that list.
- Do we need to provide satisfactory mitigating circumstances as well? We thought that we did, but an article on the Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council website by John Chard of School Appeals, says “If a child has not passed the grammar school test, parents will have to show that there were mitigating circumstances OR (my emphasis) that their child is suitable for a grammar school education”.
Both (either might be sufficient on its own, but you are not
restricted, and I feel it would have been better if he had written "and/or").
Incidentally, although I understand what you mean by the panel "making its own assessment", it's a phrase best avoided (see following extract from the Code). It would be better to talk about the panel 'taking into account the academic evidence'.
3.37 Where there is no local review process (as described in paragraph 3.34) or no local review process has been applied, the panel should consider any factors which appellants contend may have affected the child’s performance (e.g. illness, bereavement); whether the family made the admission authority aware of these before they sat the test; and whether it offered alternative testing arrangements or made reasonable adjustments (e.g. in the case of children with disabilities). The panel may then need to consider any clear evidence presented by the appellants to support their claim that the child is of the required academic standard e.g. school reports giving Year 5/Year 6 SAT results or a letter of support from their current or previous school clearly indicating why the child is considered to be of grammar school ability. The panel must not devise its own methods to assess suitability for a grammar school place unrelated to the evidence provided for the hearing. In determining to uphold an appeal, the panel must be satisfied that there is evidence to demonstrate that the child is of grammar school ability and, where applicable, that the appellant’s arguments outweigh the admission authority’s case that admission of additional children would cause prejudice.
3.38 Where a local review process has been followed, the panel must not make its own assessment of the child’s ability, but must consider whether each child’s review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way e.g. whether the same type of evidence was used in all cases. If there is no evidence that this has been done, the panel must follow the process in paragraph 3.37.
Well done on getting this far!