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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 6:49 pm 
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Apologies in advance for a long first post but I am struggling over how to approach our son’s appeal. Part of me feels weak at the thought: appealing against non-qualification and over-subscription to a super-selective grammar when we are OOC….but we feel that we have a case, I just don’t know how strong, so could do with some advice:

The background
My son took the Kent Test (11+) last September and failed. We had hoped for him to go to the Judd School so he was always going to need an excellent scor. If his practice tests were anything to go by, he was on course to get 140 in all three papers. On the day he did fine in Maths (140) but in VR (his strongest paper normally) he got mixed up over the number of questions in the paper: he thought there were 50 questions to answer in 50 minutes when in fact there were 80. By the time he got to question 49 at the bottom of the page he had slowed down because he thought he was doing so well time-wise. He then turned the page and saw he had 30 questions to go. In the remaining seven minutes he managed to answer 14 of the final questions, and therefore managed to answer 64 out of the total of 80 questions. In the break following the VR test he discussed with a friend what had happened and said that when they went back in for the NVR test, he just couldn’t concentrate properly because of what had happened. He was also very nervous thinking ahead to the essay as he struggles with handwriting (he has poor motor skills). We had told him the essay didn’t matter: because of where we live and the scores he would need for the Judd, it was kind of irrelevant if he were borderline between a pass and a fail, but this bothered him. So, in VR he ended up with 133 and NVR 115 – and failed.

Academic ability
We have subsequently taken our son to see an Educational Psychologist, mainly for other emotional reasons, but also for a cognitive assessment (Wechsler IV). His results were very high (Verbal Comprehension: very superior; Perceptual Reasoning: very superior; Working Memory: superior). His Processing Speed was average. The psychologist suggests that this lower processing speed will affect his ability to manage in tightly timed testing situations such as the Kent Test and also pointed out that processing speed is significantly affected by anxiety, which again is likely to be a factor in an examination such as the Kent Test. She has suggested that this could be taken into account in the future, perhaps with extra time in exams.
I asked her how he can be so quick in maths and have such a quick sense of humour with slow processing speed, and she said that a lot of the tests relating to processing speed would be affected by his poor fine motor skills. We have wondered whether he is dyspraxic and as early as the first term at school his poor motor skills were noticed and he was included in a “Jump Ahead” programme to try to improve them. The main area it affects him (apart from coming last in every race on sports day!) is his handwriting, which is appalling and slow. I am worried about taking his exercise books to an appeal as they look so terrible, full of comments about poor presentation.

I completely understand and accept why LEAs have to implement the 11+ and don’t have a problem with it, but it is so hard when, in a situation such as this, I feel my son is being judged on his poor exam technique rather than his academic ability. We can present his Ed Psych report, his excellent school report from year 5, the school’s SATs predictions (level 5A for English and Maths) and his rather shabby exercise books, but I just don’t know if it will be enough.

Emotional well-being
To be honest, one of our main reasons for wanting a grammar school place for him is that we think it would be easier for him socially. He has struggled with friendships at primary school; he knows so much about things and is quite intense. The other children don’t dislike him, they just don’t really “get” him. We thought that if he was in a selective environment then the “cleverness” issue would be taken out of the equation socially (yes, I’m sorry, I’m aware how awful that sounds!). He has also been bullied this year.

So which angle to we use for appeal: poor exam technique on the day but otherwise high academic achievement? Poor motor skills and slow processing speed? Emotional well-being? Do we even mention all of this? Is it even worth appealing to the Judd? Sorry for such a long first post but I really could do with some advice.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2011 8:29 pm 
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From Judd's website:

Is A Preference For Judd Wasted If My Son Has Scored Below, Say, 405?
By no means.

Firstly the pass mark could be below 405 (fewer children passed in West Kent this year than last and the standardised scores aren’t always consistent from year to year at the top end).
Secondly, should a first preference not prove successful, the second preference is treated as a first preference – the coordinated scheme works very well in this regard.

If I Don’t Get Judd In March What Can I Do If I Still Want It?
· Take advice from your son’s current school
· Ring The Judd School
· Go on The Judd School waiting list
· Appeal, if you think there are special circumstances

Sorry - tried to put the headings in bold, but didn't work


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 6:47 am 
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Quote:
we feel that we have a case, I just don’t know how strong
I do believe you have a case. Whether it's strong enough, only your particular appeal panel can say for sure. One might expect panels for superselectives to be quite tough - but I would hope they would note the 'very superior' results from the EP, especially in the relevant area of perceptual reasoning.

Quote:
We have wondered whether he is dyspraxic and as early as the first term at school his poor motor skills were noticed and he was included in a “Jump Ahead” programme to try to improve them.
It helps that you have evidence of the motor skills problem. Did the EP not comment on dyspraxia?

Quote:
The main area it affects him (apart from coming last in every race on sports day!) is his handwriting, which is appalling and slow. I am worried about taking his exercise books to an appeal as they look so terrible, full of comments about poor presentation.
But what about achievement and the underlying quality of the work? The presentation simply proves your point, and shouldn't matter so long as he's consistently scoring very high marks.

Quote:
He has struggled with friendships at primary school; he knows so much about things and is quite intense. The other children don’t dislike him, they just don’t really “get” him. We thought that if he was in a selective environment then the “cleverness” issue would be taken out of the equation socially (yes, I’m sorry, I’m aware how awful that sounds!). He has also been bullied this year.
It would help to have evidence from the primary school to cover these points.
Note that they might be an argument for a selective school, but they're not in themselves an argument for a particular school. However, if his 'one and only friend' were to be going to Judd, then a relevant argument would start to take shape.

Quote:
So which angle to we use for appeal: poor exam technique on the day but otherwise high academic achievement? Poor motor skills and slow processing speed? Emotional well-being? Do we even mention all of this?
All - but, ideally, emotional well-being needs to be linked specifically to the school in question.

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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:05 am 
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Thanks for your replies.
The EP didn't comment specifically on dyspraxia, but noted poor pencil control in her report. I will ask her this week.

TBH I haven't looked through this year's exercise books. Another problem is that Yr 6 teacher has been off sick since 1/2 term (last term) and DS has been taught by a succession of supply teachers (this has exacerbated bullying problem) and has meant that he has really not been stretched at school and has been downright bored. So I'm not sure how much evidence of good work there is in the exercise books. Will talk to his (permanent-ish) supply teacher on Monday.

Regarding the emotional/social issues, I'm going to ask the Head Teacher to cover this in her letter. We have 100% support from her (she is v worried about him coping at secondary school, particularly as one of DS's main "taunters" will be going to same secondary as him in Sussex). All I can say about Judd, is that after we looked round DS said "I liked Heathfield, but I felt at home at Judd". I know this isn't a valid reason for appeal, but it made me realise how much it would suit him.

I'm starting to realise, writing all this, how hard it is to put across one's point: how do I explain the character of my son - his exuberance and enthusiasm and the incredible fizzing with ideas every morning? I feel so frustrated by this situation which was genuinely caused by a "blip" in concentration - again, responding to instructions is not his strong point. I can't help but feel that, given the age of the children sitting these tests, that the invigilators could mention the number of questions in each test at the beginning. I know we could have impressed more on him that he should check through how many questions there were in each test before beginning, but still 10 is very young to have a foolproof exam technique....


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 9:48 pm 
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I really sympathise with you. Its hard when you feel that a particular school is right for your child - and perhaps he hasnt reached his full potential.(whatever that is!!)
I had a similar experience with my DS two years ago as he wanted to follow his brother to Judd and being a sensitive soul who finds it hard to make friends we assumed (as his school results and previous NNEF scores predicted) that he would pass easily.
However, he had a meltdown of some sort in the day and failed on NVR by one point.
We were fortuntate that a HT appeal was successful and he got a place at TWGSB.
so, did your HT appeal for you? They would have had good evidence it seems.
Finally, i would like to point out i have had 3 sons at 3 different secondary schools. They have all had very different approaches to things and interestingly my favourite has been the local comp Hayesbrook!!!! They seemed to have the boys interests at heart at all times and not obsessed by results....
sorry, off topic!! Good luck with your appeal. certainly worth a go.


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 10:47 pm 
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Thank you for your comment - I am so grateful for the support. I feel I have bored the pants off the few friends I have talked to about this, so it's a relief to speak to/read of people who have been in the same situation.

In a way we are in a lucky situation - we are in the catchment area for two good secondary schools here in Sussex, one of which in particular I have been very impressed with and have been told that their pastoral care is excellent. I know that my ds will find a bigger pool of children there so socially things may actually be slightly easier than at his small primary school, and academically he'll probably thrive anywhere.

Our HT did appeal on his behalf, but as we are in Sussex, it was the first HT appeal she had done (to my knowledge) and it was unsuccessful. I haven't seen his 11+ essay but I imagine it looked awful (if not illegible) and probably unimpressive given what he had gone through in the previous two hours, so it's not surprising that appeal was unsuccessful. Even if it had been successful, we would still have had to appeal anyway, as our only two grammar school options are Skinners and Judd and his eventual score (388) is so far off the mark.

It's just that awful feeling of knowing that he was capable of getting in and going to a school he would love, but didn't because of nerves. We're appealing with no great hope of success, but just knowing that we have to try and should give it our best shot. We are definitely not telling him that we are appealing. For ourselves we need to know that we have done everything we could, and then we can lay it to rest. Closure!


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 27, 2011 11:32 pm 
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It sounds like you have to go for it . Your son sounds like mine....he's gone wrong somewhere along the way in the test, and it is NOT a true reflection of his ability. You might get a sympathetic panel, and be lucky, but if not at least you know you've done what you can. Your EP report sounds positive, not being an expert, I can't tell about these things, but would advise you to bring as much evidence of high academic achievement as possible, or as much evidence of why he has underachieved. Having been through it it is not for the feint hearted, however, until you have tried and given it your best, you really will not have closure. Good luck !


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 28, 2011 2:03 pm 
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Looking for help

i'm feeling your advice!! After doing everything you know to do, then you must quit beating yourself up about it and beleive that he will do fine wherever he ends up. But indeed, do give it your best shot first.

It is well..


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 9:08 pm 
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My son had a very similar experience during the practise test for Kent.


Last edited by Brenda Jean on Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 07, 2011 9:20 am 
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A couple of years ago KCC allowed parents to view the papers. I don't know if this is still the case.

If you can you might be able to show that there was a marked difference between his marks at the beginning of the paper and the last page.

Good luck.


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