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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 5:38 pm 
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Do appeal panel members receive any training or guidance (other than a copy of the admissions code) in how to decide whether the academic evidence placed before them shows whether a child is of a high enough academic standard for the school in question?

If not, what's the point of them hearing such cases?

Is there a requirement for them to be trained in any way?


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:29 pm 
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I don't know about training, but I do know for a fact that there is no absolute definition of 'academically suitable' for GS, at least not in Bucks. In our appeal against FCO, we emailed County to ask for a definition of academically suitable.
The reply from County came back that there was no definition, and each panel was free to make its own judgement.
Easy to prove a lack of consistency, then...


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:37 pm 
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Quote:
1.10 Panel members and clerks must not take part in hearings until they have received appropriate training. Admission authorities must arrange and fund up-to-date training for appeal panel members on any aspect felt to be relevant to the functioning of the panel. As a minimum, this must include the law relating to admissions; their duties under the Human Rights Act 1998 and Equality Act 2010; procedural fairness and natural justice; and the roles of particular panel members (for example, chairing skills). It is the responsibility of the clerk to ensure that all panel members have received any training necessary to enable them to fulfil their role.

In a selective area, I would have thought appropriate training would include the different types of academic evidence likely to be encountered, e.g. ed psych reports.

However, no one can really instruct an appeal panel in what is "a high enough academic standard for the school in question" because each case has to be looked at on its own particular merits, taking into account all the circumstances.

What do you do if the academic evidence is contradictory? What do you do if the academic evidence is different?

See: http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... cation#b30
"The appeal process cannot possibly be 100% objective. Some schools do not do SATs. Some schools do not do CATs. Some schools are over-optimistic. Some heads – outside the LA – refuse to co-operate. Some parents show school reports, some don’t. Some parents bring school work, some don’t. Sometimes the academic evidence is contradictory.
No set of criteria could encompass all the possibilities ......."


I think it was Capers who once pointed out that, if it was easy to devise a set of objective criteria, you wouldn't need an appeal panel - you could just feed the information into a computer.

At the hearing it is, of course, open to the admission authority - if they have a view - to comment on the validity of any alternative evidence presented by the parent.

The final decision, whatever it is, is going to be a matter of judgement.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 7:05 pm 
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Yes you are right Etienne, and my question was not well phrased. I was really meaning that the performance level a panel should be looking for in a child applying to a superselective is a league apart from the performance they need to see evidence of in a non super-selective selective in a county like Kent or Bucks where at least 25% of children can go to grammar school.

However, I'm aware of a selective county where the LA does not provide any training or guidance to appeal panels on any of this whatsoever other than referring panels to the admissions code. As a lot of schools are academies these days I guess it's up to the school as admissions authority to provide training and guidance for the panel maybe, and nothing to do with the local authority?

Is there any requirement for an admissions authority to train and guide its appeal panel? And isn't it in the schools' interests to do this?

Otherwise there could be quite a few people on panels who, even with the best will in the world, may not properly understand how to interpret academic results, CAT results, KS2 and KS2 results, the various different tests that Ed Psychs use etc etc.

And how can one know if one is going to face a panel where the people do or don't know about these things? If they don't know much about them, aren't they going to be more more impressed by only a small score shortfall on the day and whether or not the "extenuating circumstances" sound impressive rather than the child's academic performance outside the test room on that one occasion?

I'm thinking it might be better to feed the information into a computer!


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 7:46 pm 
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mystery wrote:
Yes you are right Etienne, and my question was not well phrased. I was really meaning that the performance level a panel should be looking for in a child applying to a superselective is a league apart from the performance they need to see evidence of in a non super-selective selective in a county like Kent or Bucks where at least 25% of children can go to grammar school.
As I've said, it is open to the school to give its view on any alternative evidence at the hearing.

Quote:
As a lot of schools are academies these days I guess it's up to the school as admissions authority to provide training and guidance for the panel maybe, and nothing to do with the local authority?
If they're handling their own appeals, that's right.
They'd have to be very careful, though, to ensure that the training is impartial ......

Quote:
Is there any requirement for an admissions authority to train and guide its appeal panel?
See my quote from the Appeals Code above.

Quote:
Otherwise there could be quite a few people on panels who, even with the best will in the world, may not properly understand how to interpret academic results, CAT results, KS2 and KS2 results, the various different tests that Ed Psychs use etc etc.
The chair is going to be very experienced, I would have thought, otherwise he/she wouldn't be chairing!
And one, if not two, members of the panel will have a background in education.

Quote:
I'm thinking it might be better to feed the information into a computer!
If you could write a suitable program, I'd quite like to see it ....... :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:01 pm 
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Thanks Etienne. The general guidance about training in the admissions code doesn't seem really to adequately cover the nature of non-qualifying appeals. I suppose the proportion of secondary schools across the country which are selective is very low, which could account for this.

Even though the chair may be very experienced in appeals, their expertise in non-qualification appeals could still be low? Panel members with education experience should help ... but having handed over Ed Psych reports to a small number of primary school teachers I am not sure if that necessarily helps, and having seen some primary teachers treat CAT scores as though they are exactly the same thing as Kent 11plus scores I am even less sure.

I think you provide excellent guidance on here to parents as to what academic evidence it could be useful to have ready for appeal and also how best to present it. I worry though that with some panels it will just fall on deaf ears.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:40 pm 
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mystery wrote:
I'm thinking it might be better to feed the information into a computer!

That's called the 11+! And as a coder married to a coder, we're sure you couldn't write that programme, emulating 3 different people, with different backgrounds, hearing & balancing loads of wildly differing appeals. It's also the appeal of a panel made up of 3 individual humans - we all have differing opinions so you get a more balanced outcome, though it still may not be what you wish to hear.

Maybe an expert in chaos theory could help here! :D

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 09, 2013 10:13 pm 
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Quote:
Thanks Etienne. The general guidance about training in the admissions code doesn't seem really to adequately cover the nature of non-qualifying appeals. I suppose the proportion of secondary schools across the country which are selective is very low, which could account for this.
I agree - when you look at the proportion of the Code that is devoted to grammar school appeals, it's minute!

Quote:
Even though the chair may be very experienced in appeals, their expertise in non-qualification appeals could still be low?
I think it's unlikely - I wouldn't normally expect them to chair a type of appeal they were not familiar with.

Quote:
Panel members with education experience should help ... but having handed over Ed Psych reports to a small number of primary school teachers I am not sure if that necessarily helps, and having seen some primary teachers treat CAT scores as though they are exactly the same thing as Kent 11plus scores I am even less sure.
Agreed that they might not know how CATs relate to GS standard, but there's never going to be a clear answer to that.
Ed psych reports can be difficult, and training should certainly be given.

Capers wrote:
Maybe an expert in chaos theory could help here!
:lol:

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 8:43 am 
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If a parent had their appeal heard by a panel that clearly did not understand the evidence / had not been appropriately trained, is there something they could do about it afterwards?


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2013 11:20 am 
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Our county has a few grammar schools but mostly has comprehensives. The head of our local grammar school says that they use 'their own' independent appeals panel exactly because the appeals panels run by county do not understand selective schools. The trouble is this panel is reconvened year after year and seems to get too close a relationship with the school, becoming like a second selection system. They have, on at least two occasions that I know of recently, made decisions that are illogical and inconsistent, both with the regulations and with decisions they have made before. I feel that panels need to be able to justify their decisions in a much more robust way so that they can be seen to be fair, consistent and objective (to borrow a rather overused phrase). The ombudsman system only looks at maladministration not illogical decisions so it is difficult to challenge decisions that sometimes defy belief, for example that a bullied child should have performed better in an exam because they would have wanted so desperately to change schools. I think just as the panel needs evidence from the parent so the parent needs evidence from the panel to show how they justify their decision.


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