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 Post subject: Appeal letter caution
PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 5:10 am 
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Our appeal was not granted, and we are totally gutted, still haven't told DD as I was too upset last night so wanted to calm down a bit.

I wanted to share some thoughts on the letter we received in the hopes that the mods can use it to help others in the future as this place has given me so much support and info over the last year.

First sentence: 'thank you for attending the admissions appeal in support for DD to be offered a place at SHS' Gave a little squeel here as thought that meant she had a place, and sent DH to open the wine.

3rd paragraph second page: 'The panel found DD was of the academic ability' still looking good......getting excited now...

5th paragraph second page: ' I'm sorry to advise you that after very careful consideration of all of the points raised, the panel had decided not to grant your appeal as they felt there where stronger cases for admission' gutted :(

Lots of waffle in between that first sentence and the actual outcome, such a rollercoaster of emotions. Please everyone read right through the letter before getting excited.


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 6:20 pm 
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swoops wrote:
Our appeal was not granted

I'm so sorry to hear that.
Quote:
I wanted to share some thoughts on the letter we received in the hopes that the mods can use it to help others in the future as this place has given me so much support and info over the last year.

First sentence: 'thank you for attending the admissions appeal in support for DD to be offered a place at SHS' Gave a little squeel here as thought that meant she had a place, and sent DH to open the wine.

3rd paragraph second page: 'The panel found DD was of the academic ability' still looking good......getting excited now...

5th paragraph second page: ' I'm sorry to advise you that after very careful consideration of all of the points raised, the panel had decided not to grant your appeal as they felt there where stronger cases for admission' gutted :(

Lots of waffle in between that first sentence and the actual outcome, such a rollercoaster of emotions. Please everyone read right through the letter before getting excited.


It looks to me as if the clerk has been quite careful in what they wrote, and the order they wrote it. That first paragraph is being polite, as parents don't have to appeal for their children - in the same way that the panel members don't have to volunteer to do the job. It sounds nice to me to thank the parents for turning up and doing their best.

I think that in two part appeals for grammars, the panel first has to decide if a child is 'of the required academic standards' - which could be by getting a high enough score in the test or by proving why they should have got a high enough score (3.13 a i). So, yes, you were right to get a little excited, as they must have found that she was bright enough.

As I understand it, the panel then have a pile of children suitable. If there's a lot of them, it may be obvious that the school couldn't cope with that many, so not all of the appeals can be allowed.

I suppose a letter could be blunt - saying 'Dear Mrs X. Sorry, the appeal was not upheld. Here's why:' - but could you imagine a parent opening that? I've read time and time again on here of parents complaining that they're not given enough details of of the panel came to their decision, so this clerk looks as if they've set it out carefully.

NB.


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 6:42 pm 
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Swoops - I had exactly same reaction to the letter, and at the end of it my blood was boiling. All the waffle and fluff could have been come after they told us yes or no.
Have you told your DD now? How did she react?
My complained she felt sick all day and cancelled her plans with friends today as so upset.
It is such a horrible time.


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 6:47 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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If you look at the specimen letters here:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a24
- they give the decision at the beginning, before going into details.

NancyB wrote:
I've read time and time again on here of parents complaining that they're not given enough details of of the panel came to their decision
I do agree with NancyB that this is a problem.

Quote:
the panel had decided not to grant your appeal as they felt there where stronger cases for admission
I have reservations about this line.
It sounds as if they're saying that your case did outweigh the prejudice to the school, but that they're applying para. 3.9 of the Code:
"3.9 In multiple appeals, the panel must not compare the individual cases when deciding whether an appellant’s case outweighs the prejudice to the school. However, where the panel finds there are more cases which outweigh prejudice than the school can admit, it must then compare the cases and uphold those with the strongest case for admission."

If that's what they meant, they should have said so, as they risk being in breach of para. 2.25:
Quote:
2.25 The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible so that the parties can understand the basis on which the decision was made.

What matters more than the wording, though, is whether the panel followed correct procedure in arriving at its decisions .......

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 7:21 pm 
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imustbecrazy wrote:
Have you told your DD now? How did she react?.


Nop not yet, such a chicken!! We have decided to tell her tomorrow. Poor excuse but didn't get home from work till 7, had a dreadful day at work, tired beyond belief and just can't deal with any more stress right now.

imustbecrazy wrote:
My complained she felt sick all day and cancelled her plans with friends today as so upset.
It is such a horrible time.


It's horrid, DD has only ever wanted to go to SHS ever since they visited in year 1, I really do feel for you and your DD, will we be meeting you at Archway?

imustbecrazy wrote:
Swoops - I had exactly same reaction to the letter, and at the end of it my blood was boiling. All the waffle and fluff could have been come after they told us yes or no. .


Not the best worded letter in the world.

Etienne wrote:

If that's what they meant, they should have said so, as they risk being in breach of para. 2.25:
Quote:
2.25 The panel must ensure that the decision is easily comprehensible so that the parties can understand the basis on which the decision was made.

What matters more than the wording, though, is whether the panel followed correct procedure in arriving at its decisions .......


Well, we are educated professional people and even we had difficulties interpreting the letter.
However even if we think they didn't follow the correct procedure or the wording is incorrect where would it lead us? As far as I can work out from all the lovely helpful people and tips here their decision is final, and can't see what or where a complaint would lead to..........


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 8:04 pm 
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You could raise concerns about the letter with the ombudsman (or EFA, if it's an academy), and query whether the decision making process followed correct procedure.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/ombudsman

If the ombudsman/EFA think the wording is unsatisfactory, wrists will be slapped and improvement required. That's all!

However, the advantage of getting the ombudsman/EFA involved is that they'll check whether correct procedures were followed - and if they think there's been an injustice, you'd almost certainly get a fresh hearing in front of a different panel.

Any downsides?
• They may or may not agree to investigate. (I suspect it's more likely than not, but it's not my decision!)
• The process would probably take two months or more .......

It's good that the panel were satisfied about academic ability - but I would want reassurance about what the panel did or didn't do between paragraph 3 and paragraph 5.

I'm assuming, of course, that nothing significant has been omitted from your summary of the letter. :)

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 8:40 pm 
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Between paragraphs 3 and 5 it pretty much explains that they had to uphold the cases that had the strongest case for admission. They say they where able to grant 8 places out of 39, and ours was not significantly compelling enough to outweigh prejudice to go over the 8 places.

Looking over the past few years they have always taken 8 on appeal, and their class's are set to cope with these extra 8 over PAN, so in someways I feel it's all a bit of a sham, because the panel know they can give 8 places so in reality we where appealing for one of the extra places the school has 'saved' rather than a real extra place


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 8:52 pm 
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Etienne, your response is actually quite encouraging, Swoops and I find our selves in the same position, (and I too am educated and found the letter confusing). It seems as if the letter was a standard letter, they did list all my reasons I made for this school, and noted panel considered these. They too said they found her to be of academic ability for the school. However, it seems other cases were stronger than ours, they mentioned they couldn't go into specific cases. I have no idea of the reason why we were turned down other than someone else had a stronger case.
How do we find out if they carried out the correct procedure for the decision making process?
One final question how do raise all the questions to the ombudsman? I am completely confused on this procedure!


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PostPosted: Thu May 29, 2014 9:46 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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swoops wrote:
Between paragraphs 3 and 5 it pretty much explains that they had to uphold the cases that had the strongest case for admission. They say they where able to grant 8 places out of 39, and ours was not significantly compelling enough to outweigh prejudice to go over the 8 places.
Looking over the past few years they have always taken 8 on appeal, and their class's are set to cope with these extra 8 over PAN, so in someways I feel it's all a bit of a sham, because the panel know they can give 8 places so in reality we where appealing for one of the extra places the school has 'saved' rather than a real extra place

The missing bit could be significant.
Para. 3.9 of the Code finishes:
Quote:
Where a certain number of children could be admitted without causing prejudice, the panel must uphold the appeals of at least that number of children.
If the sentence "They were able to grant 8 places out of 39" means "8 places without prejudice" then the sequence could have been:
• Panel decided 8 places could be offered without prejudice
• 8 strongest cases chosen
• Remaining cases then considered, but none of them outweighed the prejudice to the school (taking into account the extra 8 ).

Alternatively, the sequence may have been:
• Panel did not decide that places could be offered without prejudice
• Each case was balanced against the prejudice to the school.
• The panel took the view that more cases outweighed prejudice than the school could cope with
• It therefore compared the cases and upheld those with the strongest case for admission - up to the point where it felt the school could not take any more pupils.
• This point just happened to be reached after 8 cases ......

Provided the panel followed these steps (either version 1 or version 2), then procedurally I think they would have acted correctly.

It's not entirely clear, though.

imustbecrazy wrote:
How do we find out if they carried out the correct procedure for the decision making process?
You could ask for a copy of the clerk's notes, but
• they may try to resist giving you a copy
• the notes may or may not shed light on what happened, depending on how good they are.

Alternatively, the ombudsman/EFA can investigate.

Quote:
One final question how do raise all the questions to the ombudsman? I am completely confused on this procedure!
If you follow the link I provided further up, you'll find another link to a complaint form. There may not be room to say much more than "Decision letter breached 2.25 of the Appeals Code" - but in the event of a complaint, an investigator is likely to phone you to discuss any concerns before agreeing whether or not to take on the case.

Now that the bit between paragraphs 3 and 5 of the letter has been filled in, I'm more inclined to think the correct procedure may have been followed, and that the issue is more to do with the wording.

If you want to be sure, however, see if the ombudsman/EFA will look into it ......

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 12:31 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:35 am
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In 2010/11 we went through a few appeals for a secondary school place for our ds. I remember the confusion about the decision letters and I do sympathise. I did complain to the Ombudsman and just wanted to say that we found it a relatively simple process and the initial contact with the Ombudsmans office was really helpful. Once they receive details from you they call you to ask a few more questions and then decide if there are sufficient grounds to merit an investigation. If you are uncertain about the letter do consider asking them for their opinion.


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