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 Post subject: Evidence
PostPosted: Fri Apr 04, 2014 9:00 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:33 pm
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I have sent some information to the appeal box. Thank you for taking the time to read it.

My questions are:
1) In your opinion would you consider the circumstances described as a valid reason for a large shortfall in marks? Is written confirmation from the school sufficient evidence and if I can't get this how would you suggest that I approach this at the hearing?
2) Will school reports and written confirmation of current levels achieved suffice for evidence of ability? Would it be beneficial to request support from previous head/class teacher/both or is that overkill?
3) Do relevant comments on school reports regarding specific interests and talents, high levels in specific subjects and academic extra curricular clubs matching school specialty provide evidence for reasons for wanting a place?
4) Do previous larger class sizes provide evidence of ability to cope with more pupils and if so will this be taken as given or will evidence be required?

Once again many thanks

mini me


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 11:56 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7059
Welcome! :)

mini me wrote:
1) In your opinion would you consider the circumstances described as a valid reason for a large shortfall in marks?
My feeling is that general arguments (such as those affecting a whole year group) tend not to have as much impact as those exclusive to a particular child - but the circumstances you describe do sound serious.

Ultimately it's a decision for the individual appeal panel how much weight to give to an argument.

Be aware, though, that the academic case has always been more important than extenuating circumstances.
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=24978

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Is written confirmation from the school sufficient evidence
I would have thought so.

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and if I can't get this how would you suggest that I approach this at the hearing?
I would submit my own report in advance, detailing the facts, with references to external evidence where available.
The points should be numbered, and as concise as possible.

At the hearing you should try to avoid a situation where your case becomes 'unbalanced' (i.e. you are talking more about extenuating circumstances than about evidence of high ability and reasons for wanting a place at the school).

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2) Will school reports and written confirmation of current levels achieved suffice for evidence of ability? Would it be beneficial to request support from previous head/class teacher/both or is that overkill?
You need as much academic evidence of high ability as possible:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... cation#b11
This is critical.

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3) Do relevant comments on school reports regarding specific interests and talents, high levels in specific subjects and academic extra curricular clubs matching school specialty provide evidence for reasons for wanting a place?
Yes - but see:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... school#c34

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4) Do previous larger class sizes provide evidence of ability to cope with more pupils
Quite possibly - it depends whether the admission authority can answer the question "What evidence do you have that this has caused prejudice?"

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and if so will this be taken as given or will evidence be required?
You could ask for the numbers at the hearing, but if I were you I would get all the facts in advance:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... school#c26

I wouldn't submit this as evidence initially, but it would provide the basis for a question at stage one (and the evidence would be available if needed):
"I believe that in previous years you've exceeded the admission number. Is that correct?
If so, could you tell us what evidence you have that this has caused prejudice?
"

Hope this helps.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 4:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:33 pm
Posts: 19
Etienne,

Many thanks for taking the time to share your experience and expertise with me :D I honestly wouldn't know where to start without the advice on this forum.

I take on board all your comments. Really sorry but I have a couple more questions.

1) The school still advertises its specialty :D I have sent information to the appeals box regarding this. Do the current working at and predicted levels look OK in support of ability in this area? Do I have a right to request that information from the school to help me prepare my appeal?

2) I appreciate your thoughts regarding the use of general arguments. Would written comments consistently mentioning lack of confidence in own ability in the subject in question help demonstrate why she was perhaps particularly vulnerable to the circumstances? If so should I just refer to this on the day?

3) I fully intend to focus on academic evidence and reasons for wanting a place. Having submitted concise details in advance of the extenuating circumstances I intend to simply mention it quickly, (hopefully supported by evidence) and then state something along the lines of 'Given the timing, I believe this significantly impacted on her performance in the test, performing much below her capability'. Could you offer any advice on how to best phrase this? Or should I not say it at all and leave for the panel's judgement?

4) Does the family connection to the school and a DS in year 7 at another grammar school help support the suggestion that combined with the circumstances she felt under pressure on the day? If so, should I simply just quickly mention this briefly on the day? There is something that she wrote during school work that makes me think this (sent to appeals box)

Many, many thanks :D


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 5:41 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 03, 2012 8:29 pm
Posts: 72
mini me wrote:
1) The school still advertises its specialty :D I have sent information to the appeals box regarding this. Do the current working at and predicted levels look OK in support of ability in this area? Do I have a right to request that information from the school to help me prepare my appeal?
Hi. Specialities in a grammar are a bit of a red herring. Unless the school specifically set aside a number of places for that speciality or otherwise select for it during the admissions process, then the panel will probably give it no, or little, weight. It's something that will be nice for the child if they win the appeal, but not a reason to win it.
Quote:
3) I fully intend to focus on academic evidence and reasons for wanting a place. Having submitted concise details in advance of the extenuating circumstances I intend to simply mention it quickly, (hopefully supported by evidence)
make sure you send in any supporting evidence in advance. The panel will not have to accept anything presented on the day - and if they do, may not spend the time considering it you wish for.
[quote]


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Sat Apr 05, 2014 7:45 pm 
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NancyB wrote:
Hi. Specialities in a grammar are a bit of a red herring. Unless the school specifically set aside a number of places for that speciality or otherwise select for it during the admissions process, then the panel will probably give it no, or little, weight. It's something that will be nice for the child if they win the appeal, but not a reason to win it.
This might be so if - as is often the case - the subject no longer has the same 'weight', and evidence of the child's aptitude is minimal.
However, if the school is renowned, locally and beyond, for the strength of one of its departments (as I believe is the case here), and if the child has a marked aptitude (and strong supporting evidence), then it seems to me a perfectly valid educational reason.

See Dejavu’s case which she won despite no places "specifically set aside for that speciality", despite a panel known to be 'tough', and despite a strong school case.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeal ... school#c2a


NancyB wrote:
make sure you send in any supporting evidence in advance. The panel will not have to accept anything presented on the day - and if they do, may not spend the time considering it you wish for.
If they don't have time to consider late evidence, then the correct procedure would be to adjourn and make time.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a7

mini me wrote:
1) The school still advertises its specialty :D I have sent information to the appeals box regarding this. Do the current working at and predicted levels look OK in support of ability in this area?
Quite possibly. It's complicated by the fact that we're talking here about a subject that is started 'late', and as I'm not a teacher I'm not best placed to advise. I think you're right to research this point further.

What I would like to see is some evidence of an interest in the subject that goes beyond the curriculum (and extends into associated subjects that the school is noted for).

Look again at Dejavu’s case and the extra-curricular activity.

mini me wrote:
Do I have a right to request that information from the school to help me prepare my appeal?
Absolutely. Paragraph 2.8 of the Appeals Code: “Admission authorities must comply with reasonable requests from parents for information which they need to help them prepare their case for appeal.

Also, under the Data Protection Act, you have a right to any information in your child's school record.

mini me wrote:
2) I appreciate your thoughts regarding the use of general arguments. Would written comments consistently mentioning lack of confidence in own ability in the subject in question help demonstrate why she was perhaps particularly vulnerable to the circumstances?
Yes, provided there is alternative evidence of high ability.

mini me wrote:
If so should I just refer to this on the day?
I think it should be made in advance, not least so that you can reference the supporting evidence.

Would the current school be prepared to state this in a letter of support as well?

mini me wrote:
3) I fully intend to focus on academic evidence and reasons for wanting a place. Having submitted concise details in advance of the extenuating circumstances I intend to simply mention it quickly, (hopefully supported by evidence) and then state something along the lines of 'Given the timing, I believe this significantly impacted on her performance in the test, performing much below her capability'. Could you offer any advice on how to best phrase this? Or should I not say it at all and leave for the panel's judgement?
I don't think you need say anything. (Ideally it's a comment that would come from the current school.)

mini me wrote:
4) Does the family connection to the school and a DS in year 7 at another grammar school help support the suggestion that combined with the circumstances she felt under pressure on the day?
Yes.

mini me wrote:
If so, should I simply just quickly mention this briefly on the day?
I would rather see it as part of your written case - but this needs to be well 'balanced'. For example:

      1. The academic arguments. (Not sure how extensive these are going to be, e.g. recent evidence of reasoning ability).

      2. Extenuating circumstances:
      (a) Pressure (sibling rivalry etc.)
      (b) Confidence issues
      (c) On top of this, disadvantaged by the background situation (very much a 3rd place argument!)

      3. Reasons for wanting the school:
      (a) Curriculum argument
      (b) Strong family links

I repeat - part 2 above mustn't dominate the appeal!

mini me wrote:
There is something that she wrote during school work that makes me think this (sent to appeals box)
I wouldn't put this in writing, as on its own, in isolation, it doesn't make for a compelling case. Hold it in reserve. If someone asks you a suitable question at the hearing, you could perhaps offer it as "one example".

If you haven't yet read through all the Q&As, it would be worth doing so. :)
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Sun Apr 06, 2014 8:23 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:33 pm
Posts: 19
NancyB-Thank you, I appreciate you taking the time to help :)

Etienne, once again my deepest thanks.

I have read the Q & A but I appreciate you pointing me in the right direction :D

beyond the curriculum (and extends into associated subjects that the school is noted for).

Look again at Dejavu’s case and the extra-curricular activity.


I do have evidence of an extra curricular club in this area and I will speak to the relevant school teacher and see if there is any support there. I will approach the school with a request for information & I will think long and hard about how else I can support this reason in line with your thoughts. There are other reasons for wanting a place at this specific school in addition to this but I felt given the speciality and the disparity between schools in this particular area that this has potential to be the strongest but I appreciate it's all about the evidence.

I have academic evidence in line with the Q & A with the exception of alternate evidence for reasoning :( as the school do not do CATs.

I shall disappear for now and try to get my head around all of this and follow up all my lines of support.

Your advice is much respected and appreciated :D


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:09 pm 
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Joined: Thu Apr 03, 2014 9:33 pm
Posts: 19
Hello again, I hope everyone has been enjoying the Easter break :D

I have a couple more questions if I may :?:

I have received a reply from the school concerning my request for information to help me prepare my appeal. Unfortunately they have refused to answer a couple of questions :( I have sent details of the school reply to the appeals box.

Can the school refuse to answer these questions and am I obliged to provide further information to justify the reasons why I want this information?

How do I handle the school's refusal to answer these questions at the appeal itself given that I was hoping to use this information? I am conscious that given the timing of school holidays this year even if I approach the school again I may now not receive an answer in time for my appeal.

Finally, with regard to receiving information about the arrangements for the appeal, does the reference to 'no later than 10 school days' in the admissions code (2.7) mean actual school days i. e. excluding school holidays and bank holidays or could this be interpreted more flexibly as 'working days'? :oops:

Many thanks for all your advice and support, it really means a lot to feel like there is someone on your side. In light of the school's response I'm actually feeling very intimidated and am beginning to question whether there really is any point pursuing it :cry:


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7059
Hi

mini me wrote:
Can the school refuse to answer these questions and am I obliged to provide further information to justify the reasons why I want this information?
It depends under which heading you were making the request.
      • If it was under the Appeals Code, then I think the school might possibly be justified in checking that the request is "reasonable" (the word used in the Code), if they cannot understand its relevance.
      Frankly, though, I think it would be much more sensible of them to give the benefit of any doubt, and draw the line only at requests that are self-evidently unreasonable!

      • If it was under FOIA (Freedom of Information Act), I see no reason why you should have to justify the request.

With regard to the second bit of information, it is not "personal data" unless someone could actually identify the individual concerned from the figure you have requested. I'm sceptical about this! It's not clear to me why the school thinks a child could be identified in this way.

If you made your request under FOIA, I suggest you ring the Information Commissioner's helpline to check whether they view your questions as valid. The ICO helpline is 0303 123 1113.

(As far as I'm aware, every time a forum member on here has gone to the Information Commissioner about a school's refusal to provide information, the school has turned out to be in the wrong!)

Quote:
How do I handle the school's refusal to answer these questions at the appeal itself given that I was hoping to use this information? I am conscious that given the timing of school holidays this year even if I approach the school again I may now not receive an answer in time for my appeal.
You simply tell the panel that you requested information from the school which you felt would help you prepare for your appeal, and they refused.
Depending on the basis on which your request was made, you could then add:
      • "I thought the Appeals Code said something about the duty of schools to respond to reasonable requests?"
and/or
      • "I was so surprised by the school's response that I checked with the Information Commissioner's Office. I spoke to [name] on [date and time] who said that my requests were lawful, and the school should have complied."

Keep it brief, factual, not too legalistic (e.g. don't say "Under Paragraph 2.8 of the Appeals Code ......".
Look a bit nonplussed, or hurt - but not angry.
At this point you're not making a complaint - you just want the panel to be aware.

Quote:
Finally, with regard to receiving information about the arrangements for the appeal, does the reference to 'no later than 10 school days' in the admissions code (2.7) mean actual school days i. e. excluding school holidays and bank holidays or could this be interpreted more flexibly as 'working days'? :oops:
Strictly speaking, it does mean what it says - although it wouldn't surprise me if the requirement is sometimes breached where the Easter holidays are involved! (This would only matter if it caused you an injustice.)

Quote:
Many thanks for all your advice and support, it really means a lot to feel like there is someone on your side.
Glad to be of help.

Quote:
In light of the school's response I'm actually feeling very intimidated and am beginning to question whether there really is any point pursuing it :cry:
Don't worry about the school - it's the panel that matters, and they could turn out to be quite nice! :)

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:35 pm 
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Etienne, thank you so much once again for your in depth reply.

I had requested the information under the Appeals Code, so will try again using FOIA and hope for a swift response once the school is open. It's just all very disheartening, not to mention time-consuming! I will let you know how I get on with the second request.

many thanks again :D


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 Post subject: Re: Evidence
PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:42 pm 
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Just to advise you that, although there is an 'expectation' that they should reply to FOI requests promptly, they normally have an absolute maximum of 20 school days in which to respond.

It might be worth the 'belt and braces' approach -
      • a brief explanation as to why you are seeking the information under the Appeals Code,
plus:
      • "Please note that I am also requesting this information under the Freedom of Information Act, and do not believe that any individual could be identified as a result."
      [You might wish to take advice about this last point from the ICO helpline first. If the ICO tell you it's a valid request under the Act, you'd be in a stronger position.]

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