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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 1:56 pm 
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I have taken alot from this site, so much useful information - so helpful I can't tell you, but this is the first time I have had to post.

My son achieved 116, his attainment marks (YR 5) are all 4's except maths which is 5c

The headmistress said she would 'recommend with reservations' (3:3) - although she did say he has really picked up this year and this could quite possibly now be a 2:2 (she said that she could review it with the other teachers). Her problem with him is his emotional state; he has suffered from separation anxiety since a 1 night school residential in year 3 - which was handled appallingly by the school. We have had problems ever since. Although since Spring/Summer this year he has really tried hard not to be upset going into school and has now even managed to walk to school with his brother once a week (5 min walk) This is huge for us. He has never stayed over at friends and will not go on scout camps or school overnight trips. So a result of this is that the HT doesn't think he would cope with the pressure. I'm inclined to disagree - there is a year of schooling before then and he's doing so well right now.

I also haven't been given any predicted year 6 grades - should this have been made available to me? He has low VR scores (yr 4-109 & yr 5-110) - so I don't feel I can make an informed decision as to whether to put us all through a review. He scored higher than a number of children that had been tutored, I know this actually doesn't mean anything but I think maybe the school believe he 'over performed' on the day. We went through extra papers at home, and he put in 100% more effort after visiting the schools - he was blown away by the GS's - something clicked for him, and then in turn for me too).
The thing is the other children have a very good academic background AND a history of good marks, whereas my child is a 'very good average' (HT's words)

We've all talked last night and will possibly not send this to review. I'm actually getting really emotional writing this because I think would really do well at a GS and that its exactly that environment that he does need.
I believe he has the ability but am convinced we don't have what we need to get him through a review. Then in the next second I think - let's give it a go - what is there to lose?

My other issue, probably my main one is that my son doesn't want to appeal - he says he wants the whole thing to be over and that he's happy to go to the local secondary school, also admitting that it's closer to home, and he wouldn't feel so anxious about being there. But then he's 10 - does he really know the implications of this decision - how far do I take his desires into account?

I find this all so painful, I don't necessarily need him to go to a GS, I just want him to go to a good school and our local secondary, on paper, really is not. I feel that we have let him down by not getting him some tutoring.

I mentioned the possibility of an appeal later in the year to the HT, thinking possibly I would know more about his most recent marks and might just be time enough for me to get everything together and also I would rather fight his case in person, than just handing over a piece of paper. But she said that the the only purpose of the appeal is to make sure the review was fair?

I'm lost.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:27 pm 
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Hello and well done to your son for scoring so well - I'm so pleased to see someone say "achieved 116" because it is a good score.

It sounds as if you and your family are really thinking this through rather than knee-jerking into a review. I can't advise you what to do, and my own experience of this pre-dates the current review/appeal process, so please don't take what I'm about to say as a recommendation, merely what I did/would do.

My daughter had similar scores and similar SATs at this stage, although the other way round: stronger in English than in Maths. She wasn't tutored either. She had a strong recommendation from the head (1:2) I think, but ultimately, the academic evidence wasn't there because she was projected to reach SATs 4a in Maths - not enough. We had - as expected - an unsuccessful appeal in February and she began at an upper school in the September. However, her work level progressed very quickly between the projections in November and the actual results in July. She achieved 5a in English and Maths after all so we felt that she was not in the right place. The good news is that she thrived at the US and got a real boost to her confidence from being one of the higher performers there. She duly sat the 12+ and is now at a GS and doing extremely well.

Why do I say all this? From what you're written, I wonder whether waiting for an appeal might give you some advantages. Firstly, it will give your son time to continue developing his confidence. Secondly, you will have time to see if his SATs levels are developing at the necessary rate to give you a stronger academic case. There is a downside of course. Depending upon where you live and how popular the catchment GSs are, you may struggle to get a place even if the academic case is there.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:42 pm 
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Thanks so much for taking the time to respond with your experience. This is exactly what is going through my mind - I think this review business and the way it is handled will not benefit him. I think it's fair to say that not all children develop at the same rate, but that doesn't mean the potential at the end of YR 6 won't be apparent and I know my sons emotional maturity lets him down at the moment.

Your story has given me hope though, and it's definitely something we have spoken about. My worries are though;

a) Taking him out of a school he may be settled at - at what point of the year did your daughter join the GS?
b) Missing out on a period of grammar school education and then possibly having to 'catch up'-how did she cope?
c) Finding a place available for him, not too about this. Must investigate!

Thanks again - this website is invaluable! :D


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:48 pm 
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I think anotherdad has given well-balanced advice above.

Quote:
But then he's 10 - does he really know the implications of this decision - how far do I take his desires into account?
You're right to listen to him - but if even parents are struggling on this forum to work out what to do for the best, I don't believe a 10 year old is better placed to take such decisions.

Quote:
But she said that the the only purpose of the appeal is to make sure the review was fair?
Completely wrong. No one is obliged to go for a review, and if you haven't been to review, then it cannot subsequently be argued that you've already had a fair review. In that situation you would be entitled to a full hearing of your case at an appeal in the summer term. Ideally you need to have good reasons for wanting a place at a particular grammar school (if it's oversubscribed), or you need to be applying for a grammar school that might have spare places.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:01 pm 
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Thanks Etienne, I really appreciate your response,

We have two very good local GS's - are we able to disregard our initial choices and say that we are happy to accept a place at whichever school has a place for him?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:10 pm 
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La-de-da wrote:

a) Taking him out of a school he may be settled at - at what point of the year did your daughter join the GS?
b) Missing out on a period of grammar school education and then possibly having to 'catch up'-how did she cope?


a) she moved, as all late transfers do, at the beginning of year 8. So she did a full year (Y7) at the upper school. It was a tough decision because she was settled, had friends, etc. but ultimately it was about selecting the right environment for her academically (notice I use the word "right", not "better" - GSs aren't inherently better than USs, they just cater for children with different needs). We don't regret the decision and neither does she. Don't underestimate how much better than adults children are at settling in and coping with change!

b) no worries on this score either. I'm proud to say that we had a recent parents' evening and she is at or near the top in most of her subjects. That is a credit to her work ethic - she is clearly bright but is a self-motivated hard-worker which is another part of being at a GS in my opinion. The only significant difference we have found is in languages. In Y7 at US she studied two languages and the focus was on vocabulary in both. Her new classmates at the GS only studied French in Y7 but to a much greater depth, including grammar. So she is way ahead of classmates in one language and working hard to catch them up in French!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:20 pm 
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That is great news - you must be so pleased that you took those extra steps and that now she is in the best place for her AND she's doing so well!

This information is just what I needed to hear - it gives him (and us) some breathing time, enabling us to make the best decision for him rather than stumbling in to a review that will more than likely be unsuccessful!

Thanks again!


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 3:25 pm 
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As an outsider (currently marvelling open-jawed at the number of appeals going on in Bucks...brave Etienne and Sally-Anne for taking all this on) the thing which jumps up at me here is, are head teachers entitled to voice in this context any opinion whatsoever on what is essentially a personality issue? It looks like very dodgy territory indeed - oh little Johnny is a bit shy/loud/choose your own adjective, and therefore he 'might not cope with grammar school'. It is a big leap, isn't it? I thought that all this head teacher involvement was meant to be a comment on intellectual aptitude, not whether a child exhibited stress at coming to school. :shock: I dread to think where this line of attack could end, with HTs being able to make all kinds of judgements about a child.

Sorry to divert your thread slightly Ldd, but I just had to query the idea of a head making a decision to support, or not, a child because of his 'emotional state' and wondered if an expert could clarify whether this is, I was going to say 'legal' but perhaps 'allowed' would be better; and whether this involvement goes as far as deciding, for example, that a child's home life was too disordered for it to 'cope', and therefore putting forward 'reservations' which might influence a panel?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:05 pm 
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La-de-da wrote:
Thanks Etienne, I really appreciate your response,

We have two very good local GS's - are we able to disregard our initial choices and say that we are happy to accept a place at whichever school has a place for him?
In the past, (1) if you were a Bucks resident, and (2) your child was qualified either via the 11+ or via an appeal, and (3) you were unable to get a place at one of your GS preferences, the LA used to offer a place at another GS with a vacancy. Not sure whether this will still be the case under the new system. :roll:

Another possibility would be for you to change just one of your GS preferences to make sure it includes a GS that is usually undersubscribed. (Chesham, for example, is a good grammar school that has previously been undersubscribed in year 7, but I don't know how far away you are.)
Any change of preference would take effect after the first round of allocations. You would need to ensure that you registered a change of preference before the summer term appeals.

Amber wrote:
As an outsider (currently marvelling open-jawed at the number of appeals going on in Bucks...brave Etienne and Sally-Anne for taking all this on) the thing which jumps up at me here is, are head teachers entitled to voice in this context any opinion whatsoever on what is essentially a personality issue? It looks like very dodgy territory indeed - oh little Johnny is a bit shy/loud/choose your own adjective, and therefore he 'might not cope with grammar school'. It is a big leap, isn't it? I thought that all this head teacher involvement was meant to be a comment on intellectual aptitude, not whether a child exhibited stress at coming to school.
Thanks for a very interesting observation, Amber.

I certainly agree that this shouldn't affect any judgement about 'academic potential'.

Bucks then has a separate category:
Quote:
Attitude to work

1 = Self-starter. Independent worker. Consistent. Highly motivated.
2 = Hard working. Reliable.
3 = Output varies
4 = Lacks self organisation. Requires support
I can see that, in assessing motivation etc., the head could get drawn into 'justifying' her judgement, and move on to risky ground. It would depend how any written comments were worded.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:21 pm 
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Thanks Etienne, at a time when you clearly have so much to do. :D

I am a little shocked by those categories and do wonder how much weight is put on them. To me they look value-laden and you don't require a huge leap of imagination to think that things like whether the dad made a big contribution to school funds; or conversely the mother always forgets to turn up to parents' evening or hear the child read might just creep into the Head's mind when s/he tries to picture each and every Year 6 child. To me at least, very scary, not least because 2 out of my 3 would have definitely been rated somewhere between 3 and 4 on that scale...and all are at GS!

Will pull out now, but thanks for the explanation.


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