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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 1:45 pm 
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Joined: Mon Jan 22, 2007 1:22 pm
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Location: Lincolnshire
I just had to share these appeal 'filler' questions with you. Once or twice my husband looked at each other as if saying 'is he serious'?

Does your son have a mobile phone?
Do you have a parental lock on your computer?
Does he go to church? (not a church school)
If your son came home one day and said a boy in his class had a knife at school what would you do?

Beat those!

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Louise


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 2:22 pm 
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Louise

These questions are not just irrelevant, they seem to me unacceptable.

So sorry to hear the outcome of your appeal.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 4:04 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Thanks Etienne.
I could feel quite concerned about the panel although very pleasant and non-threatening I was surprised that they were all aged 60 plus, with one (chap who asked the questions above ) being at least 70. Their chairman was an ex grammar school headteacher, one panel member desribed as being in the redcross and the third having been in local business. The Head of the lower form sat in on the appeal. He represented the school and gave the speel regarding not achieving the pass mark. He sat to my husband's right and was noted to be taking notes while we gave our presentation. I'm assuming he had input into our result and in some ways I hope, so although not sure if this is correct procedure, as i'm not sure how 'with it' a couple of the panel members would be regarding sats results and info given by an educational psychologist. I'd like to stress that I am not ageist I just thought there would be more of a cross section of people. This appeal was for a Foundation School and I know you have voiced concerns before about these schools. Any thoughts?

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 6:08 pm 
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Hello, Louise

The composition of the panel looks all right technically. Panels tend to be elderly - unfortunately younger people often don't have the time to volunteer for this sort of unpaid work.

The school representative should have had no input into the appeal other than what was said at the hearing (and the documents circulated in advance to everybody). I trust that he entered the room at the same time as you, and came out when you did. It would be a serious matter if he was alone with the panel at any time.

In my view the chairman should have stopped the panel member who was asking irrelevant questions. It's uncertain whether this shortcoming, on its own, is significant enough to amount to an injustice, but if I were you I would ask to see the clerk's notes (to study what was said during the decision making), and/or refer the matter to the ombudsman. (See the thread "Grammar School Appeal".)

I am concerned about the success rate for foundation and VA school appeals, and the ombudsman has noted in the past that they tend to make more mistakes than LA panels.

Even if you have no case that an injustice was committed, it's very helpful if you are willing to do a bit of probing and to ask questions, because people organising the appeal, and if necessary panel members, will have their attention drawn to any shortcomings. This helps to raise the standard of appeals, and benefits future appellants.

It would be interesting to know who appointed these particular panel members and on what basis - It cannot be easy for a foundation/VA school to set up its own appeal panel with total impartiality. It sounds like the prosecution choosing the judge and jury! Even if the panel's actions are entirely proper, it's difficult to avoid the perception that they might not be as independent as they should be.

Best regards

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 7:48 pm 
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Thanks Etienne. Yes the school rep did enter and leave the room at the same time. I hear what you are saying and will think about whether to ask to see the notes. It's imperative that all members of the panel are professional and ask relevant questions to make you think that they are thinking about the child's academic suitability for a grammar school place. Those questions mentioned above don't indicate this. would one have expected the school rep to take notes?

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Louise


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 Post subject: Filler Questions
PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 8:46 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:39 am
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Location: Lincolnshire
I too was asked the 'knife question' - totally innappropriate for an appeal question in my mind - I cant really see why my answer would inidcate why my son is suitable for grammar school, any thoughts??


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:03 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Hello Louise,

I am really sorry to hear about the outcome of your appeal.

I also share Etienne's concern about some of the questions you were asked. I think, also, that you were appealing for the same foundation school as Doobie?

It is not enough for the appeal panel to appear kindly and avuncular - they must consider the evidence carefully, be fair, and be seen to be fair. If there is a question hanging over this then the Ombudsman should be considered.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:07 pm 
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Location: Lincolnshire
Etienne,

Is there any right to see the notes taken by the appeal clerk? I know that this seems to be a common occurrence in Buckinghamshire, but when I asked one of the Lincolnshire admissions team whether appellants could ask to see the notes (for community and controlled school appeals) I was told no.


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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:39 pm 
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Hello, Alex

There might be some "wriggle room" for LAs!

According to the Dfes, "Where a request has been made under the Data Protection Act for access to personal data contained in the records of proceedings, whether that data should be disclosed will depend on a number of factors including: the identity of the person making the request; the nature and individual circumstances of the appeal; the way in which the data is held; and the interests of any third parties identified in the data. Appeal panels or clerks may therefore wish to obtain their own legal advice before responding to such a request."

If the authority refuses to release the notes, I would ask them to put their refusal in writing, together with their reasons.

I would then complain to the ombudsman about those aspects of the appeal that appeared unfair.

The ombudsman will almost certainly ask to see the clerk's notes if he decides to investigate the complaint. He has the powers of a high court judge, and the authority cannot refuse his request for the notes.

My experience was that the ombudsman (London office) routinely sent a copy of the clerk's notes to the complainant in due course. There are, if I recall correctly, three different ombudsman offices for different parts of the country, but I would have thought they would all have the same policy.

Regards

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 28, 2007 9:45 pm 
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I hope the notes record these 'dodgy' questions - when we got our appeal notes they had huge gaps and did not record questions I wrote down as being inappropriate.

e.g. 'Did you complain about the bullying?' - we had included several letters [and the fact that none had been responded to] in our case papers !!


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