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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 8:31 pm 
Our letter to Gravesend Grammar School has been accepted, and they would like to har our appeal late April. We are still waiting for a reply from Wilmington however.

Question to Etienne really...

Our plan in the appeal hearing is to outline our sons academic qualities first and foremost - 11+ Results were VR 134 NVR 119 M 118. Predicted SATS Level 5 across the board. NFR results all of Grammar standard. He has been at an Independant school in a class of 12 Children, and every child passed. We would then try to demonstrate that he has been prepared for Grammar school environment all his schooling life, and that he would be a credit to the school, should he be given the opportunity to attend. We would mention briefly, but underplay the fact that at the age of around 6, as parents we split up, although at no point would we suggest this has affected his marks. Instead we would demonstrate how well as a family unit we all get on, and spend time a lot of time together as a family, and that he has a very big support unit.

Although we have no extenuating circumstances to offer with regards to why he failed so narrowly, we would explain that he was incredibly nervous about the exam due to the pressure placed by the school (Is this wise to say???). We would explain that it would mean the world to him to get to Gravesend Grammar (which it absolutely would)

My questions really is, as an appeal panel, what are you wanting to hear? What things tick boxes? Does the quality of the parents public speaking qualities make a difference, or will the appeal panels questions give the panel the information they need to make a decision? What kind of questions will the panel ask? "So Mr R, What makes your Johnny so special that we should give him a place at the school'? I'm told the panel will test you patience or tolerance with the type questions at times, is this true?

As parents we're terrified of letting him down with a bad 'speech', and not being able to convey his qualities and abilities, so any tips or experiences you have had as a member of a panel would be gratefully recieved.

Thanks in advance


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 9:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
Posts: 8199
Location: Buckinghamshire
Wow Paul - a lot of questions! I've noticed that Etienne doesn't usually come out until the "witching hour" :) , so let me have a first stab at helping you out.

Quote:
Our plan in the appeal hearing is to outline our sons academic qualities first and foremost
Absolutely right. The more you have, the better. Do you have a report or letter from the Head to submit? From the class teacher or subject teachers? If they are prepared to write something, ask them to draft it, and be prepared to ask them to change any elements that seem to create doubt (damning with faint praise, for example!). The stronger the wording, the better. "very high potential", rather than just "potential" for example.

Quote:
11+ Results were VR 134 NVR 119 M 118.
How many marks is he away from the pass mark? (Forgive me - we're Bucks, you're Essex and I have a short memory!)

Quote:
We would then try to demonstrate that he has been prepared for Grammar school environment all his schooling life, and that he would be a credit to the school, should he be given the opportunity to attend.

I'm dubious about the first - the panel may just see pushy parents, and it is very much a matter of your personal opinion about him being a credit to the school. Has he done anything at his prep school to demonstrate that he is a strong member of the school community? That would make your case more effectively than just your opinion as parents.

Quote:
We would mention briefly, but underplay the fact that at the age of around 6, as parents we split up, although at no point would we suggest this has affected his marks. Instead we would demonstrate how well as a family unit we all get on, and spend time a lot of time together as a family, and that he has a very big support unit.
I don't see this as relevant - if it has not had any effect on his academic performance, why mention it? 99% of GS parents will claim a supportive home environment, so it does not mark you out from the herd.

Quote:
Although we have no extenuating circumstances to offer with regards to why he failed so narrowly, we would explain that he was incredibly nervous about the exam due to the pressure placed by the school (Is this wise to say???).
Nerves are commonly cited by parents, and don't cut much ice with a panel, and NO, don't mention the pressure from the school. The panel are looking for a child who can cope with the demands and pressures of a GS!

Quote:
We would explain that it would mean the world to him to get to Gravesend Grammar (which it absolutely would)
Of course it would, but this argument applies to many thousands of children in Essex and all around the country.

Quote:
My questions really is, as an appeal panel, what are you wanting to hear? What things tick boxes?
Academic evidence - time for that expensive prep school to earn their keep and write the right letters and give you the support you are asking for! (No cynicism intended - my sons are at a prep school as well.)

Quote:
Does the quality of the parents public speaking qualities make a difference, or will the appeal panels questions give the panel the information they need to make a decision? What kind of questions will the panel ask? "So Mr R, What makes your Johnny so special that we should give him a place at the school'? I'm told the panel will test you patience or tolerance with the type questions at times, is this true?
I don't believe that any of this is true of panels in general. There may be the odd rogue panel, but they are very rare. Panels do their best to put you at your ease. Your public speaking ability is completely irrelevant - a slick presentation will do you no favours. The questions are likely to be either fillers - "What does he do in his spare time? What books does he read?" - or more searching questions posed by the panel to try to get to know your child - "Does he make friends easily? How does he cope with failure? Does he do his homework readily?" None of the questions are designed to trip you up or make you uncomfortable, but to get a real 3D picture of your son and his suitability for GS.

Quote:
As parents we're terrified of letting him down with a bad 'speech', and not being able to convey his qualities and abilities, so any tips or experiences you have had as a member of a panel would be gratefully recieved.
On this last point I am speaking from personal experience of being on your side of the fence. I went to appeal for my son last year. I discovered this Forum too late to be able to use the wealth of advice on it. I muddied the waters with emotion, I tried to cover too much ground and my basic research - speaking to the teachers, really understanding my child's abilities and getting them to back up the Head's comments on paper was dismal. My only excuse is that it was perilously close to the end of term, and after the initial shock had subsided, it was too late to get the information I needed.

I hope I haven't utterly destroyed your plans, and that I have also given you some pointers for where to go next. Academic evidence, and "less is more" would be the summary. I also hope I've put you at ease on the concept of the Appeal hearing itself.

Whatever the outcome, you will not have let your son down. You will have done everything you can for him, and he will appreciate that. I know - I came out on the wrong side, and my son just said "Mummy - you tried your best". On the support and information I had at the time, he was right. You have this Forum to turn to, so your best will be better than mine was by a long way!

Good luck

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 10:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7059
Dear PaulR

A superb reply by Sally-Anne, full of sound advice, and not much for me to add!

Have another look at the Q&As. Some of your queries are dealt with there, e.g. type of questions asked, whether presentation matters .........

As your case is mostly academic, I doubt that there will be many significant questions. (Have you decided to drop the bullying incident?)

"What ticks boxes for the panel?" - Academic evidence + convincing extenuating circumstances (if applicable). That too is in the Q&As.

Avoid assertions ("he will be a credit to the school"), avoid emotional phrases ("It would mean the world to him"), avoid anything not strictly relevant.

My advice on the separation and especially on "past schooling" remains the same as in the earlier thread:
www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/forum/11plus/ ... ntitlement
Your son's suitability depends on his academic achievements, not the type of school he has attended.

Good luck!

_________________
Etienne


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 11:23 pm 
Sally-Anne wrote:
Wow Paul - a lot of questions! I've noticed that Etienne doesn't usually come out until the "witching hour" :) , so let me have a first stab at helping you out.

Quote:
Our plan in the appeal hearing is to outline our sons academic qualities first and foremost
Absolutely right. The more you have, the better. Do you have a report or letter from the Head to submit? From the class teacher or subject teachers? If they are prepared to write something, ask them to draft it, and be prepared to ask them to change any elements that seem to create doubt (damning with faint praise, for example!). The stronger the wording, the better. "very high potential", rather than just "potential" for example.

Quote:
11+ Results were VR 134 NVR 119 M 118.
How many marks is he away from the pass mark? (Forgive me - we're Bucks, you're Essex and I have a short memory!)

Quote:
We would then try to demonstrate that he has been prepared for Grammar school environment all his schooling life, and that he would be a credit to the school, should he be given the opportunity to attend.

I'm dubious about the first - the panel may just see pushy parents, and it is very much a matter of your personal opinion about him being a credit to the school. Has he done anything at his prep school to demonstrate that he is a strong member of the school community? That would make your case more effectively than just your opinion as parents.

Quote:
We would mention briefly, but underplay the fact that at the age of around 6, as parents we split up, although at no point would we suggest this has affected his marks. Instead we would demonstrate how well as a family unit we all get on, and spend time a lot of time together as a family, and that he has a very big support unit.
I don't see this as relevant - if it has not had any effect on his academic performance, why mention it? 99% of GS parents will claim a supportive home environment, so it does not mark you out from the herd.

Quote:
Although we have no extenuating circumstances to offer with regards to why he failed so narrowly, we would explain that he was incredibly nervous about the exam due to the pressure placed by the school (Is this wise to say???).
Nerves are commonly cited by parents, and don't cut much ice with a panel, and NO, don't mention the pressure from the school. The panel are looking for a child who can cope with the demands and pressures of a GS!

Quote:
We would explain that it would mean the world to him to get to Gravesend Grammar (which it absolutely would)
Of course it would, but this argument applies to many thousands of children in Essex and all around the country.

Quote:
My questions really is, as an appeal panel, what are you wanting to hear? What things tick boxes?
Academic evidence - time for that expensive prep school to earn their keep and write the right letters and give you the support you are asking for! (No cynicism intended - my sons are at a prep school as well.)

Quote:
Does the quality of the parents public speaking qualities make a difference, or will the appeal panels questions give the panel the information they need to make a decision? What kind of questions will the panel ask? "So Mr R, What makes your Johnny so special that we should give him a place at the school'? I'm told the panel will test you patience or tolerance with the type questions at times, is this true?
I don't believe that any of this is true of panels in general. There may be the odd rogue panel, but they are very rare. Panels do their best to put you at your ease. Your public speaking ability is completely irrelevant - a slick presentation will do you no favours. The questions are likely to be either fillers - "What does he do in his spare time? What books does he read?" - or more searching questions posed by the panel to try to get to know your child - "Does he make friends easily? How does he cope with failure? Does he do his homework readily?" None of the questions are designed to trip you up or make you uncomfortable, but to get a real 3D picture of your son and his suitability for GS.

Quote:
As parents we're terrified of letting him down with a bad 'speech', and not being able to convey his qualities and abilities, so any tips or experiences you have had as a member of a panel would be gratefully recieved.
On this last point I am speaking from personal experience of being on your side of the fence. I went to appeal for my son last year. I discovered this Forum too late to be able to use the wealth of advice on it. I muddied the waters with emotion, I tried to cover too much ground and my basic research - speaking to the teachers, really understanding my child's abilities and getting them to back up the Head's comments on paper was dismal. My only excuse is that it was perilously close to the end of term, and after the initial shock had subsided, it was too late to get the information I needed.

I hope I haven't utterly destroyed your plans, and that I have also given you some pointers for where to go next. Academic evidence, and "less is more" would be the summary. I also hope I've put you at ease on the concept of the Appeal hearing itself.

Whatever the outcome, you will not have let your son down. You will have done everything you can for him, and he will appreciate that. I know - I came out on the wrong side, and my son just said "Mummy - you tried your best". On the support and information I had at the time, he was right. You have this Forum to turn to, so your best will be better than mine was by a long way!

Good luck

Sally-Anne




This is great and thanks for taking the time to reply.

The pass mark for Kent was 120.

Yes the Heads report / letter 'highly reccomends', and uses similar language throughout. With regards to the Independant school, we've told that demonstrating his suitablity to Grammar education is a big advantage at the appeal, but obviously this is very hard to do without sounding pushy,aloof, or downright arrogant. I thnk we will probably allow the panel to make their own judgement on that and hopefully their local knowledge of schools will be ebough for them to know that he would be suitable providing our academic evidence was strong enough.

Etienne - regarding the bullying aspect - I completely forgot about that, and yes I do believe we will mention this, although again I don't think we will try to make a big thing of it as I do not believe there are is obvious evidence that his results were affected by it. We do have the Heads support on this however, as we had to complain to the school numerous times on this issue, would a seperate letter regarding this matter from the Head giving details be a good idea?

I'll take a look at the Q&A Now, hopefully a few ideas will come from it.

Thanks a million to you both..


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:28 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7059
Dear PaulR

Ideally the bullying would have taken place immediately before the 11+, or there were some other signs of its effect on your son (if not on schoolwork).

I think it could be worth discussing with the head to see what he thinks.

Best wishes

_________________
Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:06 am 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 374
Location: Bucks
Didn't think I could ever be of use to this forum - my son missed the 11+ cut off by one mark and we failed the appeal but...I have spoken to a number of appeal parents who live nearby but do not attend my son's school (our head is very anti 11+ and has not got a child through appeal in 4 years) who have all been successful and...

We went into the appeal with our heads support (of sorts) which comprised two sheets of A4 on headed school paper which waffled on about 'what a nice boy' 'she strongly supports him' 'in her professional opinion' etc. Nothing concrete about his academic ability at all. My husband prepared an A4 side speech which contained various recent results of school tests my son had sat. The school were not willing to release any results to us on school headed paper, 'we don't do that here'.

After failing the appeal we applied for the appeal papers, the panel clearly stated (2-1) that the school had failed to provide any actual proof of academic ability which would prove he could cope at grammar school, and, on reflection, they were right.

Locally, three kids failed by 3/4 marks and in my opinion, are not as bright as my son (well I would say that, wouldn't I!!), however, they were supported by a head who values the 11+, 'appreciates the system' and sent his appeal-ee parents in with as many recent exam/assessment results as he could find, letters from form teachers specificially relating to actual work completed, letters from language teachers/students who had taught them, letters from governors (in some cases), so these parents staggered in with headed bits of paper with actual academic proof of the childs ability and 11 out of the 12 kids passed (of which I knew 3), one with only 115. The parents only had to say a little speech about mitigating circumstances and what he liked outside school as everything else was in front of the appeal panel on school headed paper.

My point is ...proof of academic standards is absolutely vital. If your child has been asked to attend a maths course, a French course, an interschool science course. marks from recent mock exams, any class assessments, notes from other teachers confirming academic success in writing, poetry, get all of these type of things confirmed on school headed paper, the appeal needs to be academically individualised, any teacher who agrees they have academically shone in their particular lesson, get them to confirm it in a note. I was completely stunned by what I saw from a head who knows what is required and knows how to influence a panel properly.

We didn't (and children in our school next year won't) stand a chance with our feeble bits of paper and our appeal speech, don't fall into our trap, if the school are approachable, hassle them - big time. Tell them what you have is insufficient, you have had advice from an ex-panel person, whatever you have to say, do it, stagger into that appeal with academic evidence, however small and of course, masses of good luck to you all.

xx

PS Life has now returned to normal for us but we licked our wounds after the appeal result for many weeks. Comments initially like 'I can't believe your son failed the 11+' and then 'I can't believe you failed the appeal, if anyone deserves to be at a grammar school, your son does' don't bovver us at all now!!!!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 11:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2007 12:18 am
Posts: 4083
I read all on the Forum and don't normally comment on this thread as there are so many(you know who you are) who do so much good work on this topic..it's a lifeline to all who feel they are sinking!!

But I'd like to say.what a super helpful post you have sent in,AMBRIDGE!!

It's clear,concise and first hand experience of what not to do and what to do!! Sterling Job!


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 Post subject: Thanks LBSWM
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 15, 2006 1:46 pm
Posts: 374
Location: Bucks
Should have mentioned that whilst preparing our appeal Etienne and Sally Anne were just fab, they openly told me that our appeal info was pants (well they didn't actually say that but I got the hint!!) but our hands were tied, our head was not playing, so the very first port of call for all appeal-eees should always be Etienne and Sally-Anne and then look at my post and others like mine to see what not to do!!!!

LBSWM, your postings are just great, kind, interesting, funny, thoughtful and now colourful!! No end to your talents, thanks



x


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:14 pm 
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Posts: 4083
Quote:
that our appeal info was pants (well they didn't actually say that but I got the hint!!)


Now who's being colourful,AMBRIDGE?
You made me laugh there..on such a dreary day!

Hope all appellents know that we are always thinking about them...

Cheers


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 Post subject: raza
PostPosted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 12:31 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 21, 2007 12:33 pm
Posts: 4
Have to agree with Ambridge, Etienne and Sally anne are brilliant. Over the last 2 weeks they have given me alot of support and advice, not forgetting the others on the forum.
Thank you all - still in process of writing appeal, my daughter scored 367 against the 326 score and she along with many others didnt qualify because we are ot of the catchment, but oddly her twin sister was offered a place, today i have decided that the purpose of all this stress is to keep people in emplyment all year round. the appeals cleark, the admissions coordinator, the judges, the lea and the list is endless. not only are we paying for these services via our taxes we are paying with our time and energy which I believe when translated into cash would mean plent of dosh.
funny how it all comes back to money. doomed if you have and doomed if you dont!


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