I am wondering if appeal places have ever been awarded at SWB on the performing arts basis, despite not being in catchment?
Very difficult to give a straight answer, Jules, because - even if someone has previously had a successful appeal on this basis - there may have been other factors in the case that helped sway the panel.
There are other variables -
a) It's likely to be a different panel each year, and each panel could come to a different view about the strength of the school's case.
b) Different panel members will have different views about what weight to give to being in catchment.
b) The more appellants there are at a particular time, and the stronger their individual cases, the more difficult it could be a win an 'average' appeal. (The most compelling arguments tend to be social/medical.)
I do think it's worth trying an appeal on educational reasons, especially when there's a lot of supporting evidence relating to the school's specialism - but if I've learned one thing, it's that appeals are unpredictable, and no one should ever go down this route anticipating a 'win'. You're right to want to manage expectations!
I'm struck by your reference to "v.v.v. keen
" - I always think it's a good idea at an oversubscription appeal to try and relay to the panel the enormous enthusiasm a child has for the desired school. And if this extends beyond the school's specialism to other aspects as well, so much the better!