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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:35 am 
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Hi, sorry for the long first post but I will give the story as briefly as possible and hope you can help:

Our eldest son did very well in school up to key stage 1 (very strong SATS results) and then unfortunately had a very poor NQT in the following year and his confidence plummeted, this was followed by two more barely adequate NQT’s and his confidence remained very low. He was (and theoretically still is) on the SEN register for having issues with disrupted routines and environments.

We removed him from school on in March of Yr 5 and home educated him. His confidence returned and he once again began achieving, moving up to comfortable level 5A’s across the board. The Education Welfare Officer was very positive about the home school environment. More importantly we had a child that was happy again.

He sat the 11 plus for Kent last month and scored:

138/140 verbal reasoning
132/140 non verbal
113/140 mathematics

This gave him an aggregate of 383 where the ‘pass’ mark was 360, but with a minimum of 119 in each section, he was therefore deemed unsuitable for a Grammar School due to, we assume, his mathematics score.

We had been told to hand in a folder of his work on the morning of the test in case he needed to go to review but we were given no advice or guidance as to what should be in the folder. This folder was categorically looked at as it was all put back in a random & haphazard fashion, however obviously it can’t have helped for the review as he didn’t pass. His best friend has scored 134, 130 & 117, is of a similar level, and has been deemed suitable, despite being lower in the verbal, lower on aggregate, and still under the 119 in maths, so we can only assume the head teacher review has carried a lot of weight.

We do not wish to come across as whiny or paranoid, but we are very dissatisfied with the system (I’m guessing we aren’t the first to say that on here), so, where we need help is on whether these points are valid when we appeal:

1. Head teacher review: the heads are told the school children’s scores and can tailor their support to this; obviously we did not have this option.
2. Head teacher review: the school children have an additional 3 weeks to create further evidence; obviously we did not have this option as the folder had to be handed in on the morning of the test and obviously the leap in evidence of progression over 3 weeks would be significant.
3. Head teacher review: the school child has a person to give direct support to a school child; obviously we did not have this option.
4. The 11+ for school children is taken over 2 days in familiar surroundings during normal school hours, the test for a home school child is taken over 1 morning in unfamiliar surroundings on a Saturday, with an 8.30am start and with all 3 tests & a written test taken consecutively with short breaks in between. He did not know anyone at the test centre and we were also not allowed to stay so he had no peer support during the break times.
5. Feedback is given to the school (& therefore the parents) on why a review was unsuccessful, once again giving an indication on where an appeal should be weighted, but none of this feedback is available for a home educated child.

At this point we are unsure how to proceed with an appeal, as despite there being a clear legal right to home school the entire system appears to be set up to support only children from ‘schools’.

Do we use the above points in appeal?

Do we approach from a different angle and make an official complaint about the current set up and focus our appeal purely on academic achievement?

The Q&A’s on here have been very helpful, but they also constantly refer to the help a head teacher’s full support can give. I find it hard to believe that no-one else has experienced the same problems but as of yet haven’t found any clear help. Surely we won’t have to address this nationally?

Last question at this point: at odds with his score he is actually very strong on mathematics and it was our intention for him to sit the GCSE Foundation and Higher papers in the summer term, we/he is very confident about the Foundation paper and optimistic on the Higher, so, if we could find a place for him to sit these exams before Xmas, and assuming he does well, would it help us with the appeal in March?

Any advice would be hugely appreciated; it has been a very frustrating week for parents and son!

Thank you

Ps, I would just like to add that we have 2 other children in the school system, and currently have no intentions of removing them, we just felt that the school was letting our eldest son down very badly and was making him unhappy.


Last edited by Famofsix on Wed Oct 19, 2011 8:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:34 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:53 pm
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I hope you get some proper advice soon, I just thought I'd mention a couple of your points to maybe put them in context:
The test morning - all out of county pupils sat the test the same as your son, in one sitting, without knowing anyone, no support etc and around 1100 of those pupils were 'deemed selctive', so I don't think that will carry much weight.
Head Teacher's Appeal - you may have better luck with this, I would have thought you had a right for a HT to review your child's work, but would like to add that my son's HT couldn't even find the test results when I asked for them, & it wasn't till a second copy was sent through that she actually looked & commented on the score - I don't think we would have had a hope of her appealing on our behalf as I don't think she even read it!
They do seem very good scores apart from the Maths - if you have some really good evidence of his maths ability this would help.
Good luck :)


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 10:17 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 8:51 am
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Agree with SM2000.

It is difficult to appeal when there are lots of children in the same circumstances - ie OOC children taking it in strange places, some where parents are moving long distances into the area and have to travel etc. Appreciate that most of thes kids will have HTs but it has to be said if they are not in the local area they may not be supportive of the test / process or indeed know what to do.

So your grounds for appeal are really related to the maths test not being a good reflection of your child mathematical ability (the other scores being much better). You need to be able to demonstrate evidence of ability - I don't know much about the relative merits of the GCSE - quite a different test, others may know more about it and other ways of demonstrating ability


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 1:33 pm 
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Posts: 7063
I agree with the comments from Herman and starmum2000 above.

In the Q&As there are numerous references to 'the system':
Quote:
it’s not a good idea to challenge the system at appeal, or to argue that your child should be given the “benefit of the doubt”. The system has to be the same for everyone (apart from reasonable adjustments for special needs). However, at an appeal you have the opportunity to come up with alternative academic evidence to try and prove that the result was not a true reflection of your child’s ability.
Quote:
Some parents launch into a general attack on “the system”, but I doubt that this is appropriate for an appeal and would certainly not recommend it!
Quote:
I would discourage parents from giving their own views about the system at a hearing
Quote:
It would be unwise, though, to set out to criticise the system, as this rarely goes down well! If the local admission arrangements are lawful, an appeal panel has to accept them. An appeal gives you the opportunity to ask the panel to consider alternative evidence of high ability.
You really don't want to go there! :)

If you look at my list of possible evidence
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... cation#b11
the headteacher is mentioned only once. The difficulty is rather that most of the evidence is likely to be school-based.

I would advise as follows.
    1. Did your son achieve 2a, or preferably level 3, in maths/numeracy at KS1?
    2. Going through earlier school reports, can you find any references to high achievement in maths? Or favourable comments such as "very quick thinking"?
    3. Yes, you should certainly pursue the GCSE option. Depending on the result, it could be valuable additional evidence.
    4. Reluctantly (because of the cost) I would urge you to get an EP report to try and compensate for the lack of school-based evidence.
    5. Will the EWO write a letter of support - or even be willing to turn up at the hearing - to say what a good job you've been doing with home education?

You will also need to address the issue of oversubscription, and to have prepared good reasons for each individual school for which you are appealing.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... -school#c2

I have a lot of sympathy for your case. The outcome of any appeal is bound to be uncertain (that is the nature of appeals), but in view of your statement that your son "is actually very strong on mathematics" I see no reason why you cannot construct a good case worthy of very serious consideration.

_________________
Etienne


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 2:57 pm 
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I have no experience of appeals so will not even try to advise - but I do have experience of Home Education. Have you tried contacting either Education Otherwise or the Home Education Advisory Service? I am sure this won't be the first time they have come across someone trying to prove that a home educated child is suitable for GS. Also our LEA has a great Home Ed advisory team who offered to help me when I was thinking about secondary schooling -is it possible that you have someone similar who you can get on side? I never once felt that I was being criticised even implicitly for the choices I had made. It sounds as if you are suffering because your child wasn't at school and that - to my very untrained eye - looks a bit like prejudice - with no HT to make any kind of recommendation you appear to be in a weaker position than someone whose child was at school.

Will stop there as I am uninformed on the technicalities - but I wish you the very best of luck.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 19, 2011 7:12 pm 
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Thanks for the advice and views, and I understand what is being said about the condition for other children across the country, however the conditions in Kent were significantly different (more difficult in our view) for home Ed kids versus a school based kid and as they would be the direct comparator it just doesn’t seem right.

Our main complaint however is that we were excluded from any alternative to a HT review – not helped today by another friend today telling us that their son passed after scores of 140, 140, 105 thanks to the HT review (admittedly 140 x2 for verbal is v impressive though).

We have the 2A SATS at KS1, it was at this point where it all went downhill with the school as even though we were told he was a strong 2A the NQT refused to allow him to sit/test for level 3 despite our requests ‘just to see’.

We do have a letter from the EWO already, but will approach her to see if we can update her feedback.

Anyway, we will concentrate our efforts on being positive about his mathematical abilities; it seems that he will have to sit a GCSE in November to ensure we get results before the appeal date, so the Xmas fund will have to take a knocking.

I think we will also get in touch with the home Ed groups suggested, thanks very much, we keep thinking that surely someone else must have had this problem so hopefully they can give us some advice. TBH I was expecting to have calmed down about by today but it still feels very unjust.

Thanks again, and will keep this up to date in case anyone else comes along with the same problem.

And if anyone else has any thought please feel free to share them.

In the meantime I will be off to read through the links again that were given for this site :D


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:49 pm 
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Hi again, just thought I would give an update (and get it off my chest :evil: ), we spoke to Kent admissions today about getting the feedback from the review, and she read it out to us (it’s coming in the post) and in brief it basically says:

“The evidence in the folder fully supports that his maths is at a level that would endorse him being suitable for Grammar

BUT

Despite very high scores in his verbal 11+ tests the folder does not support his verbal/literacy work as being seen as suitable for Grammar”.

So, this may not be the forum for this comment but are they just winding us up?

How is that explainable that when no school child would have their school work assessed after having passed the 11+ tests and then being effectively (& subjectively) downgraded?

We were then told that when we appeal, we will have to appeal on both maths & verbal (despite the 138/140 & 132/140 scores!).

I’m really struggling in not just visiting a solicitor to take this up legally as clearly our son is being discriminated against.

Anyway, rant over!

Really want I want to know is if there is such an item as a policy or procedure for how the 11+ is run? What the rules are etc? Kent admissions seemed to clam up when we requested it and became very vague about its existence.

Also, I know the advice has been not to mention the procedure/system, but bearing in mind that we should have written evidence to support the above injustice, would the advice be the same?

Thanks again


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 7:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi famofsix

I will chip in here with a few comments. They are not comprehensive but they are some early thoughts.

Famofsix wrote:
“The evidence in the folder fully supports that his maths is at a level that would endorse him being suitable for Grammar
That comment should be extremely helpful at an appeal, given that the only weakness in the 11+ was his maths score. Both the other scores were very strong indeed.

Quote:
Despite very high scores in his verbal 11+ tests the folder does not support his verbal/literacy work as being seen as suitable for Grammar”.
The test has proved otherwise - the work in the folder may not have been of the expected standard, but he has proved his ability and potential with the VR and NVR scores.

Quote:
We were then told that when we appeal, we will have to appeal on both maths & verbal (despite the 138/140 & 132/140 scores!).
Your appeal is against non-qualification on all fronts, but the real task is to prove his mathematical ability, through any evidence you have. If the letter does indeed state what you have quoted, that is another very useful point to add to your case.

Quote:
I’m really struggling in not just visiting a solicitor to take this up legally as clearly our son is being discriminated against.
A solicitor is not necessary for a school appeal - indeed, appeal panels will often scrutinise cases with legal representation far more closely than those presented by parents alone. I don't think that you can go as far as to say that your son is being discriminated against - merely that the system tends to be "one size fits all", and your son is "a slightly different fitting". That is inevitable for the small minority of Home Educated children.

Quote:
Anyway, rant over!
I understand the rant completely, having been through an appeal (failed) myself many years ago, but I do feel that if you can focus your efforts on simply preparing a strong case for your son and leave the anger behind, it will be more productive. You have time on your side, so calm down and make the most of that advantage! I had less than two weeks to understand the system and prepare my case (or so I believed at the time - I could have bought more time if I had been better informed), and that was in the days when there was almost no information on the internet and this website was a babe-in-arms.

Quote:
Really want I want to know is if there is such an item as a policy or procedure for how the 11+ is run? What the rules are etc? Kent admissions seemed to clam up when we requested it and became very vague about its existence.
There will be an agreed Admissions Policy for the county, and that has legal force under the School Admissions Code, but I don't think that is where you should be looking in this instance. It is extremely unlikely that your situation would be proved "illegal".

Quote:
Also, I know the advice has been not to mention the procedure/system, but bearing in mind that we should have written evidence to support the above injustice, would the advice be the same?
Yes, every time. Please listen to those of us who are telling you that kicking the system is not the way forward. You need to prove your son's ability if you are going to convince an appeal panel. His VR and NVR scores are very good and if the letter contains the statement you have mentioned, you have moved forward another step.

I am glad that you have posted on here because I can recall very few cases for appeals for Home Educated children. I will certainly be on a learning curve, as will others on the forum. Hopefully it is one that will benefit your son first and foremost, but also others in future.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 8:04 pm 
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Thank you :D

I need someone from outside the house to put perspective on what needs to be done and what to focus on as we keep getting dragged into the unjust side rather than what needs to be the actual outcome.

I will keep the thread up to date as we get more info.

The Home Ed Alliance has been helpful, but they have said the same as Kent Admissions which is that it is very rare for a child that has been home schooled to be then returned to the school system for a secondary education. Apparently lots of home ed children take the 11+ to see where they are educationally but then carry on doing home ed.

One suggestion from HEA was that we should see if the EWO would come with us as they have been very positive about what we have been doing - we were at one point considering returning our son to primary school for the final year and the EWO suggested that we reconsider until he was of secondary school age as we were clearly doing a better job educating him than the school had (this was verbally, have no idea if they would put that on paper). What do you think of that suggestion? Or would a statement/report from them be enough?

Thanks


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:51 am 
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Appeal, for loads of grammars, not just the ones you put on your CAF. Are you wanting a school place whether grammar or not? If so which schools ar e you interested in?

Alternative to sitting GCSE early is get Ed Psych to assess maths ability. See all the stickies about academic evidence for appeals. Sounds like the comments you got about the folder were useful for the maths. Who cares about the verbal / non-verbal tosh, he passed that. Plenty of kids must pass the multichoice who can't write a thing!!

It's usually marginal fails that pass on appeal, and 6 points is more than marginal, but you know, unis make concessions for Home Eded pupils so why not an appeal panel in Kent. Try loads of schools, every appeal panel will have a different view. Concentrate your argument on ability, not the rubbish system. Good luck.


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