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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 5:24 pm 
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Posts: 9
Dearest all,

I am at the end of my resources now - trying to make sense of a process which seems rather kafkaesque.

To give some background (I am happy to send details to the private mailbox):

My daughter applied to a selective school, and missed the pass mark by a small margin. However, this was hardly a surprise since she had to take the exam under extremely stressful circumstances (suffice to say, this involves a contested shared residency). I had written to the school prior to the exam to try and move her exam date to one which would be less catastrophic, but the school refused (a point which my solicitor friend, who has worked in public decisions, made clear was not just). So, she did her best on a date when her head was full of worry about bigger things than secondary schools.

So, we appealed. We made sure to evidence every point, including her exceptional academic ability which, by any measure, could not be better (level 6 SATs etc). The result was a letter informing us of the appeal not having been successful. A remarkable piece of writing it was: it managed to contain multiple logical fallacies as well as generally squirming around the Appeals Code in a way that seemed (to me and the solicitor friend ) obviously and easily spotted by the EFA. We wrote an appeal highlighting and detailing the ways in which the IAP erred in following the Code.

The EFA recently got back to me (late). Their letter was short, and concluded that the decision letter could have been simplified. What little explanation there was, seems to be equal to 1 + 1 = giraffe. It makes no sense!

They write that no injustice has been caused, but I am having difficulty understanding this, considering our hopes of our lives finally working out in a normal way just crumbled.

I am desperate, and will see this through one way or another.

Please could I have some opinions? As I say, I am more than happy to send details into the private inbox.

Thank you so much if you can spare some time on this.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
Welcome! :)

So sorry to hear this.

Provided you're not challenging the panel's judgement (only serious procedural errors are grounds for a complaint), and provided any breaches of the Code appear to have caused an injustice (e.g. the panel's decision is likely to have been different, had the breaches not occurred), then it would be worth seeing what the DfE think.

Not many cases get referred to the DfE, but we did have a case a year or two ago where they overruled the EFA, suggesting that the process is more than a 'rubber stamping' exercise.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 6:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2011 8:34 pm
Posts: 930
You have been through the mill I guess and the result is more disappointment.
What sort of selective process did the school use? If it takes the top scorers up to PAN and is super-selective there may well be other children with higher scores who have not got a place either. 2 years ago my DS also missed the cut off score for his GS by only 3 marks but that translated into 60 children with a higher score who did not get a place either. What is the history of successful appeals in the past if there are very few then it will be an even steeper struggle if non qualification as well as over subscription.

I don't know about going to the D of E but Etienne thinks it might be worth while giving it a go but I guess you need to be prepared that it still may not go your way.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:56 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:38 am
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Thank you for the replies - very much appreciated. I just have to see this through, there's no option for us I'm afraid. I've let go of things in the past, and am still living in the shadow of those decisions. I know that at some point, on hearing the facts of the case, will at least understand and at least nod to show this. It has to be so, unless I'm completely delusional. But if I am, so are the solicitor friends who have helped me with this (although they are not education specialists).

I'm not an expert on different selective systems, but the point of it was that my daughter's family situation meant that she was under unbearable stress on the day (I really, really am afraid of going into details in public though). This could easily have been prevented had she been allowed the other date; thus making it more equal to the experience of the other girls. She is obviously desperate to change her situation, but I am powerless to do much because of the circumstances. This probably sounds a bit cryptic and vague, but I just can't share this in public.

I have already written back to the EFA to ask to see the Clerk's notes which I tried to acquire prior to the complaint taking place. I also asked to see the 'letter from a panel member', which they stated they used to make a decision. Surely, as this is about our case, I am allowed to at least see the papers?

Is the next thing just to fill in the complaint for on the DfE webpage?

Secondly, if I send the decision letter to the private inbox, will anyone look at it? I feel very alone and completely depressed about this. I would love to actually talk to someone because the whole thing is just so complicated. I know this forum is not the place to do that, but at least there are knowledgeable people here.

Thank you.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 7:57 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:38 am
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Hi Etienne - could you please point me to the direction of the case you mention? I'd like to read it. At least to feel less alone.


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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Quote:
Hi Etienne - could you please point me to the direction of the case you mention? I'd like to read it. At least to feel less alone.
Sorry, no - the case was removed because the school had been named, and the personal circumstances were such that the parent was at serious risk of being identified.

We didn't really become involved until after the DfE decision, when we helped with the re-hearing.
If I recall correctly, the re-hearing was 8 months after the original refusal of a place!
The wheels of justice can move slowly ......

The clerk's notes
As far as we know, everyone on here who refused to take "No" for an answer has eventually got hold of the clerk's notes under the Data Protection Act.
However, if the other side dig their heels in, I'm afraid it could take the Information Commissioner a year to take action.

mamaduck wrote:
I just have to see this through, there's no option for us I'm afraid. I've let go of things in the past, and am still living in the shadow of those decisions ......
if I send the decision letter to the private inbox, will anyone look at it?
I don't mind having look at the decision letter - but (a) I can only comment on the forum, and (b) are you sure about this? How are you going to feel if we happen to think the decision is justified? The process is already extremely stressful for you. Might we not be adding to the stress? :?

If you "have to see this through", come what may, might it not be better to press ahead with the DfE?
Anything we feel able to say will just be our opinion - the only opinion that matters is the DfE's!

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 9:47 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:38 am
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Thank you so much - I will send. I understand that you may not say what I want to hear (I'm not even sure what that might be, exactly), but - life is such an uphill struggle it seems, I'm not expecting anything to be easy. So, it's okay. I'll just go and find the link... Presumably this is needless to say, but please avoid writing things which could make this identifiable or anything like this. So, the inbox...just a second. Thank you!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 10:31 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:38 am
Posts: 9
My questions (after sending the background files):
- Did I do the right thing requesting access to the additional case letters etc?
- Does the EFA have any responsibility to make the reasons for their decision clear? Do they have to be relevant?
- Am I imagining it that they are, in fact, not even commenting on the main points of my complaint? Stupid question, but is it understandable to be upset?
- Slightly unrelated, but the 'review' which took place (when pupils above PAN were admitted) - should this not have been also published on their website?
- Is the DfE website form my next step?

Thank you!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 04, 2014 11:27 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7063
mamaduck wrote:
- Did I do the right thing requesting access to the additional case letters etc?
I would have thought so, but best to check with the ICO for an authoritative opinion.

Quote:
- Does the EFA have any responsibility to make the reasons for their decision clear? Do they have to be relevant?
This ought to be the case!

Quote:
- Am I imagining it that they are, in fact, not even commenting on the main points of my complaint? Stupid question, but is it understandable to be upset?
Ideally - for clarity - I would have liked to see a complaint with numbered paragraphs (and sub-paragraphs where necessary). With luck the EFA will then answer using the same format, which makes it much easier to go back to them saying "Sorry, but what's your response to para. 2b?"
As it is, I've not enough time to digest everything fully. I thought you said you were sending just a decision letter ..... :?

Quote:
- Slightly unrelated, but the 'review' which took place (when pupils above PAN were admitted) - should this not have been also published on their website?
Yes - but unless you've been disadvantaged, this is likely to be a 'technicality'.

Quote:
- Is the DfE website form my next step?
With detailed references to natural justice, the HRA, etc., it's clear that lawyers have had quite an input!
As cases go, this was complex. An appeal panel could easily have spent half a day on it, if not longer. I wonder how much time was actually scheduled, bearing in mind that a private company was engaged to manage the appeals. (Most cases are probably allocated around 30 minutes!)

I couldn't predict the outcome, but I think it's worth seeing what the DfE make of it all.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:05 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:38 am
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Thank you so much! And sorry if there was more material than expected. I just thought that it would be quite difficult to reply without knowing what I was referring to, because, as you say, this is a complicated one. I appreciate your time and thoughts - and I'm happy to keep the board in the loop with progress.


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