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 Post subject: Appealing an appeal...?
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:23 pm 
Hopefully someone may be able to offer us some advice on this, as we are at our wits' end....

Our daughter took both the Berks and Bucks 11+ last year. As we live in the borough of W&M, we could only select 3 schools for our common application, so chose Herschel, Burnham and Newlands, in that order, to cover all bases.

She passed the Bucks paper with 126, but failed the Berks by 1 mark, with 110. She has since been offered a place at Burnham, but we appealed the Berks decision on the basis that she simply didn't perform as well on the day as had been expected.

We attended the appeal hearing last week, providing letters of support from her current headteacher, as well as all her key subject teachers indicating a consistently high level of performance. She has predictions of level 5 in all key subjects and has already proved her ability with the Bucks pass. There were no extenuating circumstances as such, we simply put her case to the appeal panel as it stood. At the end of the hearing the panel commended her on her Bucks pass and us on our honesty in putting forward an appeal case that was based around fact, rather than excuses.

We have now been informed that the panel have decided not to uphold our appeal, on the grounds that:

a) the school had correctly and impartially applied its admission criteria
b) the panel was satisfied that our daughter's admission would be 'incompatible' with its admission arrangements
c) the school's case for not offering a place was not outweighed by the information we presented at the appeal

Obviously we feel that the last few months has been a complete waste of time now. Our daughter's result was right on the borderline, but the appeal panel seemed to focus on the fact that she had already been offered a place at another grammar school - which makes us feel that our appeal has not been considered impartially.

What options, if any, are there for us to appeal this decision? Do we have to complain to the ombudsman? What should our next steps be?

Thanks in advance for any help or advice...


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 3:04 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
Dear Confused Dad

Please read section D in the Q&As if you haven't already done so (follow link at top of page).

I suggest you write to whoever organised the appeals requesting a copy of the clerk's notes under the data protection act, and offer to pay any appropriate fee (usually £10, but ask for confirmation).

I cannot guarantee that this will help, but it might. The notes should be sufficiently detailed to explain the reasoning behind the bald statements in the decision letter. We can then consider the chances of pursuing the matter further.

Regards

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Appealing an appeal
PostPosted: Fri Mar 23, 2007 11:20 pm 
I don't know if this is what you want to hear, but Herschel's admission policy is by rank order of score. Even children who passed with a score of 111 have not been offered a place this year as they are heavily oversubscribed. I would imagine that to get in on appeal with 110 would need serious extenuating circumstances, as there are all those on 111 who arguably have a stronger case as their child actually did pass, yet don't have an offer.

However, definitely agree with Etienne that it's worth requesting the clerk's notes.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 8:41 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 3:47 pm
Posts: 1348
Location: Berks,Bucks
The problem is that in Slough, by opposition to Bucks, the appeal decisions are not split between those for scores below 111, and those for a specific school.

As Waddle mentioned, Herschel didn't offer a place to all the children who scored 111, so unfortunely it is unlikely that they would offer a place to children who got through on appeal.

I agree that it is definitely worth requesting the clerk notes.


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 25, 2007 5:11 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
Confused Dad wrote:
We have now been informed that the panel have decided not to uphold our appeal, on the grounds that:
a) the school had correctly and impartially applied its admission criteria
b) the panel was satisfied that our daughter's admission would be 'incompatible' with its admission arrangements
c) the school's case for not offering a place was not outweighed by the information we presented at the appeal

The decision letter is interesting. It suggests that the panel considered three separate issues:
    1. Were the admission arrangements correctly applied? (The answer is usually going to be "Yes" - see Q&As, C2, final paragraph.)
    2. Should the pupil be deemed qualified? I assume the answer being given here is "No," and that this is a quote from the code of practice, page 31, para. 4.51, point 2 (see link in Q&As, A4). However, unless there is further information elsewhere in the letter, I think the wording here is obscure, and does not conform with best practice. The code of practice, page 41 para. 4.82 says: "The written decision ..... should be expressed clearly, using straightforward language that can readily be understood by a lay person." Would any lay person understand that "incompatible with the admission arrangements" implies "not deemed qualified for selective education"???
    3. What was the balance of prejudice? If the answer to "Should the pupil be deemed qualified?" was "No," then I'm not sure why the panel needed to move on to decide the balance of prejudice. Again, unless there is further information elsewhere in the letter, it does not follow the requirements of the code of practice: "The decision letter should ....... indicate the establishment of prejudice by the admission authority" (i.e. Did the panel formally accept that the authority had a case?). "The letter should also explain in full why the panel decided that the individual circumstances of the parents' case were considered sufficient or insufficient to outweigh the prejudice arguments of the admission authority ...." (para. 4.81)

Confused Dad appeared most puzzled by the decision not to deem his daughter qualified.

The number of children who qualified but did not get a place should only become an issue if they appeal and have a strong case (as opposed to just being on the waiting list), and the issue should only be relevant at the "balance of prejudice" stage.

Not sure that I fully understand what goes on in Slough :D, but those are my thoughts!

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Etienne


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