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 Post subject: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:18 am 
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Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2011 9:47 am
Posts: 15
As soon as I received the school offer letter, I knew I was going to appeal.
My friends say I only put 1000% into something and joked that I would have a portfolio going, I had more than that, I had a blooming great file on the school. I knew everthing about it, I would have won "Mastermind" if it was my chosen subject!
So Point 1 - RESEARCH. I googled the school and others nearby, I read the ofsted reports, I visited all the education database sites, I used this forum, I read the schools prospectus, I read the schools web site - every single word on every single page.
Point 2 - RESOURCES. I used every resource available to me. I sat down with the HT and the ClassT, 2 County Councillors, my best friend, mum and sister, spoke to other people who had been to appeals in previous years, books from the library.
Point 3 - CONCISE & EVIDENCE. I wrote and re-wrote my appeal a number of times until it was word perfect. The appeal documents I sent in, consisted of: a covering letter, a front page with 7 major bullet points, a further 2 page document of clear and concise paragraphs of no more than 3 sentences fitting my child to the school, a page of extracts from my childs' school report, covering letters from the HT, Class T and a T from an outside club my child has attended for 4 years. Everything I wrote could be substantiated with evidence, even weak areas can be worded well.
Point 4 - PREPARATION. By the time I sent my appeal in, (we had been given 3 weeks to prepare) I was totally confident with what I had written and that I had left no stone unturned. I was fully prepared and waiting for a date for the appeal.
I had asked the HT to read my finished appeal. The HT said "It's amazing, how can they not take your child", the County Councillor said "This is the best appeal I have ever read", even the Chairman during the appeal said "Your presentation of your case is excellent".
Point 5 - PRESENTATION. As my appeal was so concise, I spent the waiting time writing a 2 page presentation painting a more personal side of my child but still relating everything to the school. I wrote about the books read, my childs achievements - not just academically, use of ICT (the schools' specialism), using words such as tenacity, dedication, totally committed etc. (referring to evidence).
THE APPEAL
The appeal went just as it should. The prejuctice was: Class sizes too large, (extra pupils taken on before and excellent results always maintained), Crowded corridors, (no mention on Health & Safety issues in ofsted, also prospectus said some new buildings with ample space), Classes furnished for 31 pupils, (web site said 3 ICT suites equipped with 32 work stations), Teachers' marking-load is increased, (ofsted said T marking is excellent).
I gave the panel a copy of my presentation and read it through to them.
I was asked about school homework, then no further questions were asked as they said I had supplied them with all the necessary information.
It was all over in 20 mins.
10 days later I received a letter stating that a place should be made available for my child at the school. That the case I had put forward, including the school specialism and good provisions of the school, demonstrated that my child would be well placed at the school.
SUMMARY.
Do your research, use all your resources, write a clear and concise report and presentation, fit your child to the school.
Wishing you every success, hope this will help you, it's something I would have liked to have read to help me.


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 12:29 pm 
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Joined: Tue May 17, 2011 6:57 am
Posts: 39
Well done, hope you have got school you wanted.


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 2:32 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2011 9:08 am
Posts: 50
Location: East Kent
Well done churchill, glad you won your appeal.

Lucky for us we also won ours for FSfG, which is the one my DD really wanted. Sounds like you certainly knew your stuff when you went in for your appeal. We did similar but was so nervous on the day that forgot to say a lot of what we had written down, crazy really but we had all the evidence needed so pleased with the outcome.

I do think realistically it isn't the presentation as much as the hard evidence the child has the ability to cope in a grammar school environment but having said that ours was for non qual. Was yours same or over sub?


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:32 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
tina2476 wrote:
I do think realistically it isn't the presentation
Agreed. The Q&As discuss conciseness, bullet points, etc., but presentation is the 'icing on the cake' .......

Quote:
as much as the hard evidence
As Whiteheart wrote in the feedback section: "All I can say is EVIDENCE EVIDENCE EVIDENCE". Others have made the very same point.

The problem is - you can only work with the case that you have. Where oversubscription is concerned, the most compelling cases are almost always medical/social. If the basis of your case is unremarkable, then all the evidence in the world is unlikely to turn it into a strong case.

Even with a good case one needs the humility to recognise that a degree of luck is going to be involved - the appellant has absolutely no control over how strict the panel might be, or how effectively the school might argue against further admissions, or how much more compelling other appellants' cases might be.

There is no magic formula for winning appeals. Yes - be as well prepared as you can be, do what you can to maximise your chances - but always be mindful that appeals have uncertain outcomes.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 5:43 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:35 am
Posts: 755
I agree with everything that Churchill says regarding research... but I do think that any parents taking this inspiring opinion into consideration should bear in mind that however much you have researched, written and re-written your statement,sought expert and lay advice and submitted strong evidence to prove suitability that the appeal process is not an exact science.

Having gone through 2 appeals now I can honestly say that we have submitted what we believe is strong evidence and strong extenuating circumstances and presented it as succinctly as possible . Self belief in your appeal case is so important and I agree totally that you should do as much as possible to give yourself the best possible chance but I would hate anyone emabrking on an appeal to think that this is a foolproof way to win an appeal because sadly it isn't.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:45 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:21 am
Posts: 2125
Agreed - there are indeed no hard and fast rules, as so much depends on the strength of the school's case and that of the other appellants. However, I do think it is important to present the very best case that you can, because at least then you'll know you did all you could and won't be left wondering "what if"? I suspect that, on balance, a lot of appeal cases are not presented coherently or are argued along the wrong lines (correct me if I'm wrong, Etienne!) - from those who don't use this forum... :wink: . I have to confess, I wouldn't have known where to start without it! So, when an appeal panel is faced with a concise and well-organized appeal with plenty of evidence to back up the claims being made, I think it must put them in a positive frame of mind. Our panel commented early on that they appreciated the care we had taken in preparing our case, as this effectively made their job easier. This set a positive tone immediately, which certainly helped our nerves! So, whilst careful preparation indeed does not guarantee success, it certainly improves your chances imho.

Regarding the Mastermind specialist subject, mine would have to be on the sibling rule and variations thereof in the English education system. :lol:

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Marylou


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 7:26 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8206
Location: Buckinghamshire
Many congratulations on winning your case, churchill. I am with the others however, in believing that there is more to winning an appeal than research and a good presentation.

Consulting others may or may not be helpful. Some Head Teachers are ill-informed about the 11+ process and appeals, and give poor advice; many County Councillors are probably even less well-informed unless they have some personal (and recent) experience of the 11+. Equally, other people may have out-dated or ill-founded advice. 50% of it may well be good advice, but you have no idea which 50%!

What wins an appeal is not slick presentation, but evidence. If that evidence has to be obtained through thorough research (as may be the case for an over-subscription appeal), then it is clearly essential. For a non-qualification appeal the evidence already exists, and even a poor presentation should not mask that if it is strong enough.

Sally-Anne


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Sun Jun 05, 2011 7:41 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
Marylou wrote:
Regarding the Mastermind specialist subject, mine would have to be on the sibling rule and variations thereof
:lol:

Marylou was extremely well-prepared, and from all that I know of her case, it could not have been better presented. It had two other big advantages - firstly, it was being put to what was clearly a very fair-minded panel, and secondly, it seems not to have been overshadowed by a raft of exceptional social/medical cases.

I can think of other very deserving cases that failed, either because the panel was less reasonable, or because there were even more compelling cases (and the panel had to stop at the point where they felt the prejudice to the school of allowing any more appeals had become too great).

I can also recall parents from less privileged backgrounds, who had written absolutely nothing for their submission (lack of literacy/understanding) and couldn’t even begin to present a coherent argument, but whose appeals were upheld thanks to patient, skilful probing from the panel who successfully teased out the crucial facts.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:59 pm 
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Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2011 6:12 pm
Posts: 59
Can I just say, Very well said Etienne...
Obviously I'm thrilled for you churchill and I totally understand you were on a high when you wrote this post
but do you realise it comes across as a bit smug and bombastic?


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 Post subject: Re: How I won my appeal
PostPosted: Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:06 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 1:21 am
Posts: 2125
Etienne wrote:
but whose appeals were upheld thanks to patient, skilful probing from the panel who successfully teased out the crucial facts.


Yes, of course - it's one thing reaching a decision one way or the other on the basis of facts presented, but it must be so much more tricky when the information has to be sensitively teased out in this way in order to ensure a fair outcome. I take my hat off to those who give their time to this most difficult of tasks - I don't think I could do it! :)

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Marylou


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