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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 12:09 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
I have just posted this link on the Kent section, but I think it deserves a wider audience.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/education/article1821612.ece

These people are very much the exception - most panels are fair and sympathetic. What alarms me most is the suggestion that these people are being kept on as panel members and re-trained! They should be got rid of!

At the end of every Appeal the Chairman should ask you if you believe you have had a fair hearing. If anything like the scenarios described in the article happens to you at an Appeal and that question is asked, "Just Say NO", won't you? Get the clerk's notes and hot-foot it to the Ombudsman.

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 1:09 pm 
The 'Times' is misleading, so don't waste time worrying about this. They just put it there to put down Grammar Schools - how long did it take them to dredge it up?


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 Post subject: appeal bullies
PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 1:16 pm 
We had an appeal recently- not at the school mentioned in the report, but still in kent.
We were in and out within 10 mins and feel decision was made before we went in!
We were not asked any academic questions only sporting ones which we were very baffled by as we were only prepared to talk about academic abilities. Also this school was full and we feel did not want any more children. We were not send any appeal papers beforehand which we felt was a bit odd and were not asked if we felt we had a fair hearing!
We came out of appeal feeling that we had let our child down because we had not given a clear picture of his strong academic history. We have learnt from this unsuccesful appeal that we have to point out certain things to the panel as we are sure they didn't even read our evidence!
P.S the headteacher sat in on the appeal and seem totally bored and at one point looked like he had his eyes shut!


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 2:42 pm 
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in contrast we had our appeal yesterday, Panel members were lovely and friendly and gave us a 40 minute hearing and asked us at the end if we thought the hearing had been fair and had we managed to say everything that we wanted to say. Even though the odds are stacked against us statistically looking at how few have got in on appeal to this particular school over the last 3 years I am happy that the process was fair and carried out with kindness and courtesy.


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 3:16 pm 
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Hi, Sally-Anne

I was horrified when I read the article. Most panels, as you say, do their best to be fair and sympathetic, and Scooby's experience is reassuringly the norm.

It saddens me that the conduct of this particular panel has caused so much distress to those parents who had the misfortune to come before it, may add to the anxiety of those still waiting for an appeal, and risks bringing the system into disrepute. I wholeheartedly agree with you that these panel members should never be used again.

It's good that we have an ombudsman system to remedy this sort of injustice. He really does investigate cases fairly and impartially.

Interestingly, I understand it's no longer best practice to ask appellants "Do you feel you've had a fair hearing?" The ombudsman doesn't like it, preferring something along the lines "Have you had the opportunity to say all you want? Is there anything else you wish to add?" It was a fairly pointless question anyway, because anyone complaining [after the event] usually claimed "We didn't want to say anything that might upset the panel" or "We felt under pressure to say 'Yes'".

Regards

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 6:04 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
Regarding the head teacher with the closed eyes - I'm not surprised, to be honest - they have little to do other than give the schools case, and answer any questions the panel or parents may have.

We're scheduled 20 mins per appeal, which is why we were running over 1 hour late within 3 appeals! We had more appeals this year than in past ones. Some parents didn't need more than 10 mins - either they had very little to say because they had almost no case or very little to say because they had such a strong case.

One appeal ran to 45 mins - primarily because it was such a difficult family situation, and at times I felt as if I was a family / divorce counsellor! We did ask some very sensitive questions because we needed to know the answers to fully understand the complexities of the appeal. Things such as being a single parent may well have a bearing on the reason the child didn't do well on the day of the test - even knowing if said parent has a new partner.

However, I feel so strongly that I'm NOT there to judge the parents. Religion, marital status, ******** orientation, race, disabilities, even parental eloquence have nothing to do with the likelyhood of success or failure of the appeal. You could argue that we have less children of african / asian / chinese origin passing the appeal, but in our neck of the woods, they happen to be a very low ratio of the population, so that's the only reason. If we lived in a more culturally mixed area we would have more appealing, so more succeeding in those appeal.

For someone to be shouted at is wrong. We're not there to argue with parents - how can they make the best case for the appeal if they are made to feel unwelcome, unvalued or disliked? We're there to serve the cause of natural justice, not to favour schools, LEA's or parents.

Capers

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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 8:49 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Thank you Capers

You offer a great insight into the "other side" (dare I say "the Dark Side" :lol: ) of Appeals.

I am glad that you also try not to judge parents, as difficult as I am sure it must be on occasions. The process is about the children.

I went to my son's appeal alone, out of choice (ish!). My husband and I are very happy together, but both of us are strong personalities, and I really wasn't sure that we could put up a harmonious "double act" on the day. I do everything to do with school - talking to the teachers, school gates gossip, etc. I told the panel that he was away on business (true, but it could have been cancelled if needed).

I would have been absolutely horrified if my lone appearance at the panel had been criticised for that reason!

I had a fair hearing (although the panel's body language was not great throughout) but I did agree at the time that it was a fair hearing.

Etienne - they asked me that question 18 months ago. When did "best practice" change?

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Tue May 22, 2007 9:43 pm 
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Sally-Anne wrote:
Etienne - they asked me that question 18 months ago. When did "best practice" change?

Not sure exactly, but I think it's been filtering through to authorities and to panel members over the past 2-3 years.
:D

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Etienne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 24, 2007 9:57 am 
The Ombudsman's report on this debacle in Kent is up on his website at http://www.lgo.org.uk/news/info.php?refnum=137&startnum= (link too the actual report at the bottom of the page).


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