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PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:31 am 
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Son sat the entrance test and missed the cut off by a half percent. It is a cut off and the letter was very clear that we won't be offered the place we really want in March so I'm starting to prepare for the appeal now. (Thanks to everyone posting here for such a wealth of good information).

He attends a small state primary with only 30 in the cohort and has been consistently outperforming the others. Arguably there is not much competition and the school put their emphasis into "narrowing the gap". He's done well despite the school and not because of it. I asked the head if she'd back our appeal and got the reply:
"I am happy to provide any information or reference for [him] that <the school he wants to attend> may request. As with any secondary school, it is not the primary school's responsibility directly to back any appeal that the parents make, other than providing any requested supporting information which I am more than happy to do."

He has to be the least demanding child in the entire school and when we finally ask for help with something important we get a real jobsworth response. I can appreciate that it's not the school's responsibility to provide a reference for a child but I don't think it's asking much for impartial feedback on our child. NOT getting her support gives a strong message to any appeal board that she thinks he is unsuitable. I'm a biased parent and may have overrated him but if so I would benefit from a straight answer so I can balance whether it is really worth an appeal.

Doesn't it reflect well on schools if their children go on to attend selective secondary schools? (… maybe not if their emphasis is on uniform mediocrity!)
Is this a typical initial response when parents approach heads and ask for support with appeals?
Do parents get the same response when they ask for help to get children statemented?

I thought it was best to have a rant here where it won't do any damage ;-) and cool off before I go and speak to her but any ideas on how best to play this one would be appreciated.

... update to my own post ...
I drafted that yesterday but didn't manage to post it. I'd also tried to contact his Y5 teacher but she's on recent maternity leave and understandably a bit distracted!! She came back today to say she'd support us and to be honest I think she's much better placed than the head.

I would still be interested in knowing if others have similar experience when asking for support from their primary school.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 12:13 am 
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Sorry to hear about this, but unfortunately it does happen.

Some LAs - opposed to selection - go so far as to instruct their primary schools not to co-operate with any appeals for a selective school.

Elsewhere it may be the headteacher/governors who are lukewarm.

Fortunately, appeal panels will usually be familiar with this sort of situation, and understand.

http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... cation#b20

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PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:36 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
There is another reason for not a primary not to support any appeals: a head or teacher may feel that if they support one child, they have to support all of them, even if they didn't think that some of the children were suitable for grammar. Parents will talk amongst themselves - can you imagine how a parent denied support or getting luke-warm support would react if they found another was getting a strong endorsment?

It's not just from state schools that vary in their support level - some privates sell themselves on how many of their pupils get through the 11+ - others prefer to either keep the children for their senior schools or sell their ability to get them through the common entrance into public schools.

As Etienne said, panels are more than used to different attitudes from different schools.

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PostPosted: Mon Nov 12, 2012 6:30 pm 
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Many schools have a blanket policy that they do not support appeals except in the sense of providing factual information. They will confirm a child was working at level 5b in Year 5 and achieved Level 3’s in their Year 2 SATS for example but will not write anything that constitutes an opinion or a personal recommendation.
The reason for this is that many children may be appealing and the school do not want to be in the position of supporting some Year 6’s but not others. Also, as with references of all kinds nowadays, people are very careful about what they commit in writing just in case it comes back to bite them, is contested or in the worst cases leads to action against them.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:18 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
London_Mum wrote:
The reason for this is that many children may be appealing and the school do not want to be in the position of supporting some Year 6’s but not others. Also, as with references of all kinds nowadays, people are very careful about what they commit in writing just in case it comes back to bite them, is contested or in the worst cases leads to action against them.

Thinking back, I do remember once hearing appeals for 4 children all from the same primary school. The information sent out by the school was pretty similar apart from slight variations in the wording of the supporting letter. Each letter said that the child was nice, helpful, worked hard in class, would be OK with the level of work at a grammar school, etc, so if the parents happened to compare the letters, they'd all be happy, but one letter said something along the lines of 'would thrive at a grammar school'.

I can't remember what the outcomes of any of the appeals were (it was several years ago, and we heard a lot for that grammar) and doubt if that one statement would have swung things for that child - we look at so much more than that - but it was the closest that we ever got to that head favouring one child. Can you imagine what rows could have happened at the school if any of the parents had noticed? If they had younger siblings, would the parents have moved them to another school in disgust?

Another aside is that often the letters 'to whom it may concern' from the heads giving the predicted SAT scores that parents submit say "If you need any further details, please do not hesitate to contact us". I find that so fraustrating, as we can't - it's down to either side to present the information, as the panel only looks at what is given and does not investigate.

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PostPosted: Tue Nov 13, 2012 1:45 pm 
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capers123 wrote:
"If you need any further details, please do not hesitate to contact us". I find that so fraustrating, as we can't - it's down to either side to present the information, as the panel only looks at what is given and does not investigate.
Indeed! A bit like parents who write "If you wish to contact my GP for further details, please feel free to do so"!
Schools should know better, though.

Interestingly, in Bucks all the local state primaries have long been required by the LA to write a report for appeal purposes. I don't see why that should be a problem, provided what is written is fair comment (e.g. a pupil clearly on target for 5a's might reasonably expect more praise for academic ability than someone borderline 4/5!). I can recall a few parents who argued that the head had underestimated their child's abilities, but I can't recall anyone who felt there had been a comparative unfairness.

It seems to me what is more of a problem is when headteachers are asked by parents to accompany them to an appeal. Bearing in mind that heads wouldn't normally have the time to do this for every pupil, such a manifestation of support for one or two pupils can be invidious in the extreme!

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 15, 2012 2:53 pm 
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Wow thanks for some very level headed responses fortunately I'm sensible enough to know when to not do a knee jerk reply! I've thanked the head for clarifying the policy and asked for copies of reports etc. offering to go formally via the governors (that'd be me!)

Reading between the terse formality I think I actually do have her full backing ... just not in writing!

The reason I felt so bad was from reading this list:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... cation#b11
Second on the list is support from the Head. I don't think it is supposed to be in any particular order but I instantly interpreted this as a failure on my part to secure the second most important bit of backing! (Please don't take that for one second as a criticism of the advice given here as I think it is excellent.)

After more reading I think his reports will actually carry more weight because they haven't been contrived towards achieving a particular result.


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