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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:05 am 
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I've attended 3 appeals now (2 with my own children and one with a friend). The first two panels were firm but fair. The third left me traumatised. Why the inconsistencies? The chairs asked different questions, the difficult one appeared to have made up their mind before I got in. I was accused of lying about dates, my optician was accused of lying as the specialist she'd referred us to found a specific attention problem.
I cannot prove what the chair said was unfair as the notes are not a verbatim account. I would advise all Parents to record the appeal meeting. Most mobile phones have a recording facility.
It's a shame parents have to resort to this to prove themselves.
Bucks say the appeals aim to be fair, informal and transparent. Sadly I did not find this always to be the case. :(


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 2:07 pm 
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I'm very sorry you had such a bad experience. Panel members are made up of individual human beings, and they're bound to be different. It's inevitable that some will be easier to relate to than others.

We've had discussion before about inconsistencies, but that was more to do with decision-making. See:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... aneous#e24

As I've written on another thread, officially the recording of a hearing would not normally be permitted (Code of Practice, para. 2.26), and I would strongly advise against attempting a secret recording.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 2:42 pm 
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To mama me. I have to agree with your post. I have been in some severely stressful situations at work but nothing like an appeal. We had ours yesterday and it was the most shocking thing I have ever experienced. I do not believe this system is accurate or fair and it does not appear to have any relevance as to whether your child has the acedemic ability to perform or not. Why don't the schools have more say as to who should and should not go through. Why is it solely based on 2 exams? If your child has had five years + years of great achievement but falls short on the day for what ever reason why should they be held back but the children that haven't achieved as much or sometimes not worked as hard get the golden score and go through ! When are we going to have a more fairer system? O levels changed to GCSE's when is this out dated system going to be changed? I know our children can achieve just as much at a secondary but the system isn't fair and doesn't award appropriately.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 25, 2011 7:41 pm 
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Lookinglass wrote:
Why don't the schools have more say as to who should and should not go through.
Some schools are over-generous with their recommendations, whereas others are too strict. Judgements would be more subjective, and there would be no consistency.

This thread might be of interest:
viewtopic.php?f=12&t=13293&hilit=some+have+cats

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 3:34 pm 
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Lookinglass wrote:
To mama me. I have to agree with your post. I have been in some severely stressful situations at work but nothing like an appeal. We had ours yesterday and it was the most shocking thing I have ever experienced. I do not believe this system is accurate or fair and it does not appear to have any relevance as to whether your child has the acedemic ability to perform or not. Why don't the schools have more say as to who should and should not go through. Why is it solely based on 2 exams? If your child has had five years + years of great achievement but falls short on the day for what ever reason why should they be held back but the children that haven't achieved as much or sometimes not worked as hard get the golden score and go through ! When are we going to have a more fairer system? O levels changed to GCSE's when is this out dated system going to be changed? I know our children can achieve just as much at a secondary but the system isn't fair and doesn't award appropriately.


Lookinglass I can only agree with you. I went through the 'trauma' of an appeal last year which was unsuccessful. The system is not at all fair. My DS didn't perform on the day but the appeal panel chose not to uphold the appeal despite strong academic evidence and predicted Level 5s for SATS, which turned out to be 2 5as and 1 5b come the end of year 6. He is now at the local comp and not achieving anywhere near his potential and the homework he is given is just ridiculous for example this weeks art homework is to do a drip painting!! He is not interested in doing such childish things at 12 1/2 it is really hard to keep him motivated.

I hope you have better luck with your appeal than I had with mine.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 10:09 am 
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I know many who refused to venture down the appeal road on the hearsay of injustice and irregularity. The exceedingly bright boy who lost a father in the previous year, and just missed the mark was refused, yet the girl who lost the hamster and fell short by a mile..was accepted. The system is far too reliant on the views of three individuals who know nothing of that child, and whose interpretation of evidence is all so often skewed. From my experience, the recommendation of eduacational professionals who have assessed my child, and are personally placed to know whether my child is suitable for academic school or not, has been completely disregarded, and I do not know why. In a court of law, the jury is directed by the judge, and any deviation from relevant fact, or possible misinterpretation of evidence, is addressed as it should be. This does not seem to be the case with the appeal panel set-up, and even decisions are doled out without proper explanation, and without proper recourse for further appeal. The fate of our children's entire secondary school years is decided under a shroud of cost-cutting secrecy. We commend the good will of those who volunteer, but rail against the injustice of what is and can only ever be, an unfair system. Fair access and equality are notions central to much of our law, and yet a system like this is allowed to contravene those laws, and we should not allow it to continue. My child will still get a good, if not better eduaction, because we are in a more fortunate position than some, but that does not detract from my strong feelings on this system. Of course I am happy for those who have happy outcomes, I have friends and family I have celebrated those outcomes with. My DD's friend scored 114 and has almost identical academic credentials, yet an amicable divorce that had been finalised one year before the test, was accepted as a good enough extenuating circumstance, and my child having undiscovered dyslexia (despite thriving academically at school) was not. Is that fair??
My heart goes out to all those who have been failed by this system, particularly those who are trapped in some inferior alternative, angry at their children's denied opportunity, and faced with no other recourse than to accept it and move on.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 11:18 am 
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Location: Gloucestershire
mm23292 wrote:
In a court of law, the jury is directed by the judge, and any deviation from relevant fact, or possible misinterpretation of evidence, is addressed as it should be. This does not seem to be the case with the appeal panel set-up, and even decisions are doled out without proper explanation, and without proper recourse for further appeal.


Our LEA panels are run & clerked by the County Council Democratic Services team (separated by a thick 'glass wall' from the Admissions team). They are used to providing legal advice & opinions to the Councillors.

If we as a panel are swinging towards a decision on an appeal that looks a bit dodgy, be it in favour of the parents or the LEA, our clerks let us know - they would point out the rules that we MUST adhere to. On the one occasion that we tried to insist, the head of the clerks appeared and very firmly told us that what we intended to do would be very likely to end up with the Ombudsman or at High Court (I think we were going in favour of the parents, but had we been going the other way the same would have happened) and re-pointed out the sections of the Appeals Code of Practice and Schools Admissions Code of Practice.

In the past, where the code was unclear, we have even had the county solicitor come to clarify the code.

Appeals are meant to be as informal as possible so anyone can come & present their case without being unduly stressed by formality and have it taken as seriously as if a pile of solicitors burst in. We are given full training every two years and refresher training every year.

We've always been unpaid volunteers since long before cost cuts applied. If we were paid, then we could be accused of 'whoever pays the fiddler calls the tunes'. Magistrates are also unpaid volunteers, guided by a Clerk who is a trained solicitor.

There are times when as a panel member I desperately wanted to allow an appeal, but couldn't do so as prejudice to the school outweighed that to the parents. Sometimes it's difficult to put down why we couldn't allow an appeal when in fact it was because someone elses appeal was an even stronger case.

We do our best, and most of us do care (otherwise why do it?). Many of us have been on the other side of the table appealing in the past both successfully and unsuccessfully.

If you think it unfair, please help other parents by volunteering to be an appeal panel member yourself. Many companies will allow paid leave in the same way that they do for TA, councillors, magistrates and the like.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 1:44 pm 
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Hi Capers, Thank you for this information, it is always good to hear a well informed opinion! I hope you don't mind me probing a few things further..

capers123 wrote:
If we as a panel are swinging towards a decision on an appeal that looks a bit dodgy, be it in favour of the parents or the LEA, our clerks let us know - they would point out the rules that we MUST adhere to.


I can understand there may be rules regarding balancing injustice to the school with justice to the parent, in terms of over subscription cases, and of course, each case will then be competing against the other so to speak, but are there any rules that you must adhere to when determining whether academic evidence is worthy or not?
Just to elaborate on the facts for comparison purposes here, and allowing for the fact that in the 'divorce v dyslexia' battle for the best extenuating circumstance prize, the award can't really be awarded on merit...how can two very similar sets of academic credentials be deemed so different? Both DD's awarded 2.2..one from a high performing state school, with a large % of children going through, AND good accuracy of prediction, so all in all..pretty reliable rating you would say. The other from a prep school of a small class and only 4 going through. Friend was worried about rating as 3 recommended 2.2 and 0 passed, so not so good you would say.
Now moving on to SAT predictions..both good 5's..and good optional SAT scores for Yr 5...although other DD had a few negatives in report so report not even shown.
And last but not least..the extra evidence..CAT's etc..prep school had a whole battery to choose from..so they chose the best..one being a VR test taken 4 months prior to test at 124..whereas my DD had only two tests, no choice as to which we could use, as all placed on the HTR...one beginning Yr 5..other in Yr 6 taken 2 weeks prior to test at 122. And that in an academic nutshell is it. So on that basis of very simple fact, I can only conclude that my pal was lucky with her chosen panel, and I on the other hand was not. I think most would agree that choosing one and not the other as in this case, is anything but fair. So how would any clerical intervention produce any different outcome in this scenario? In the absence of a tick box for academic criteria, it simply comes down to personal opinion...and when that opinion is voiced over and above the professionals who have been better placed to voice that opinion on a child, I am sorry to say, but I don't think that is fair.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 2:55 pm 
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I can understand why you must feel so raw about this, right now. However, you cannot really know everything that was discussed at other people's appeals. There may well be information that your friend does not feel comfortable sharing with you, that was the clincher in her case.

Certainly when people asked me about my son's successful appeal, I said it was on the basis of his strong academic record. And whilst this is partly true, it's certainly not the whole story. There are issues I simply would not wish to share with anyone else.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 28, 2011 4:21 pm 
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I agree with what you are saying Cairo, from an extenuating viewpoint, it is hard to level the playing field..and I know that in her case, the 'extenuating card' was played very skillfully, she admits that herself and that's fair enough. But, and its a very big but, the academic evidence should be viewed more consistently than it is..from the cases I have heard and indeed read on here..that playing field is anything but level
Mitigating factors aside, if two shoplifters steal the same goods, they deserve the same punishment...to be able to expect consistency of law is one of our basic rules of law, and from an appeals perspective, that doesn't seem to be so. So until there is a properly formulated academic threshold devised, the decision wrongfully rests with a random trio of inevitably inconsistent minds.
Should your appeal have been rejected, knowing what you and your school rightfully know about your son, I am sure you would feel a great unjust had been done.


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