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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:44 pm 
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We appealed to a GS and lost. At the appeal we stated our case for both non qualification and oversubscription. DS passed the exam but ranking not high enough to gain place.

We showed mitigating circumstances as after the exam had very high temperature and viral infection and was subsequently off school for a week - backed up by doctors note and confirmation from school.

DS's head teacher wrote letter stating that his NFER scores were 98th percentile for maths and 99th percentile for English and has always been one of the top in his class.

Science teacher wrote letter stating he is top in class in Science and English teacher wrote letter stating incredibly high achievement in English working well above his age.


The GS is a science and sports specialist school.

We stated that DD has always wanted to be vet and gave supporting evidence linked to experience working with animals & animal rescue in spare time. The GS has links to VET colleges. We argued that this was the only school that offers this.

The GS is the only school that offers the competitive sport that he does as is national champion in.

The panel asked no relevant questions at the end - we were shocked.

Letter arrived informing us we were unsuccessful spelling his name wrong 3 times! Stated that they recognised he was unwell in second exam - he was unwell for first exam! It said DS wants to be a vet so tries hard at science - we never said this, we showed consistently top of his class in science and won award for it. It then recognised the sport that only they offer which DS is national champion.

Reasons for rejection: DS good at science and sport but all schools offer this. DS was ill on day of test and did not perform to best of her ability but tests are based on performance on the day. DS is bright and enthusiastic but so are all appellants. Therefore unsuccessful.

Can anyone advise - it really doesnt look like they've taken our points into consideration.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:20 pm 
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It can occasionally happen that decision letters contain errors - Clerks may prepare a number of letters on the same day and be under time pressure. It is far from ideal though.

In the first instance, you need to apply for the Clerk's notes: http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/ombudsman#d4

Those should show whether the panel considered your evidence correctly, and the reasons for each panel member's decision.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 5:46 pm 
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Musty35 wrote:
The panel asked no relevant questions at the end - we were shocked.
Not a good sign, but not an easy issue to pursue.
Is this an academy? If so, in the event of a complaint you would be asked by the EFA which section of the Appeals Code has been breached.
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appeals/general#a4

Quote:
Letter arrived informing us we were unsuccessful spelling his name wrong 3 times!
I agree with what Sally-Anne says.
If this was just a clerical error (rather than mistaken identity!), they might get their knuckles rapped, but nothing more.

Quote:
Stated that they recognised he was unwell in second exam - he was unwell for first exam!
As above - someone would have to decide whether this was a minor clerical error, or whether it caused a serious injustice.

Quote:
It said DS wants to be a vet so tries hard at science - we never said this, we showed consistently top of his class in science and won award for it.
It might be argued that the panel didn't take his achievements fully into consideration, but one would need the clerk's notes to see whether there is evidence that they did or didn't.
In other words, is it just another instance of a badly worded letter, or did the panel fail in its duty to consider all the evidence properly?

Quote:
Reasons for rejection: DS good at science and sport but all schools offer this.
If they are going to reject all curriculum reasons out of hand, there would appear to be no point appealing on this basis!
Unfortunately it's almost impossible to challenge the panel's judgement - the issue is whether there was a procedural error. Did the panel give proper consideration to your argument including the school's specialisms?
      Quote:
      The GS is a science and sports specialist school.
      Funding for specialisms no longer exists, but do they still advertise themselves as a science and sports specialist school?

Quote:
DS was ill on day of test and did not perform to best of her ability but tests are based on performance on the day.
It is true that mitigating circumstances are no longer mentioned in the Code, but I would have thought the panel has a duty to consider any relevant evidence. If the argument is that the only thing that matters is performance on the day, it rather begs the question "What is the point of an appeal?".

I agree with Sally-Anne that your next step should be to try and get hold of the clerk's notes.

If you'd like to send a copy of the decision letter in its entirety to the Appeals Box, I'll take a closer look at it for you.
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=9907&p=108023#p108023

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2016 9:02 pm 
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Thank you very much Sally-Anne and Etienne for your responses. Apologies for late reply but I've only just got home.

Yes the GS still advertises as a Science and Sports specialist school. The school is now an academy.

I have sent a copy of the decision letter to the appeals box.

I agree that if they are not going to take any of the relevant specialisms or mitigating circumstances into account then it's pointless appealing. It's devastating to feel that despite all the effort put into an appeal that no one was really interested in what you had to say and then to receive such an awful decision letter.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:17 am 
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Hi Musty35

Thank you for sending in a copy of the decision letter. On the whole it appears to comply with legal requirements, such as consideration of the admission arrangements.

The only additional reservation I have (additional to those discussed above) is that it states your case was not "sufficiently exceptional" to outweigh prejudice to the school.
It could be another example of a badly worded letter, or it might be rejected as a semantic point, but strictly speaking there's no requirement in the Code for the appellant's case to be in any degree "exceptional" - it's a simple balancing of the arguments. According to section 3.8 of the Code, at the balancing stage the appellant's case would need to be sufficient to outweigh the prejudice.
      Quote:
      3.8 The panel must balance the prejudice to the school against the appellant’s case for the child to be admitted to the school.
Section 3.9 of the Code does go on to say:
      Quote:
      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.
      It might be easier in this instance to justify the use of the word "exceptional", but if the panel were applying this provision of the Code, the decision letter would have had to say so.


Although the clerk's notes might give you more ammunition, and strengthen your grounds for complaining, authorities have up to 40 days to respond under the Data Protection Act 1998. The good ones will probably respond within a couple of weeks, the bad ones might even try to resist!

It would be helpful to have sight of the clerk's notes, but perhaps you could consider saving time by skipping the clerk's notes, submit a complaint immediately to the ombudsman (or EFA, if it's an academy), and just sit back and see what they think? (I'm afraid that, even if you were to send off a complaint straight away, you might not get a decision until September at the earliest.)

If you decide to proceed, I'd advise you not to raise the misspelling of DS's name, or the lack of relevant questions at the hearing, as I'm quite sure you'll get nowhere with those issues.

To sum up the points that might be worth pursuing

      • The mistake with regard to when DS was feeling unwell, provided that it coincides with a significant underperformance in the test. (Of course, without the clerk's notes we can't be sure whether it's a clerical error in the decision letter, or - more seriously - whether the panel made a mistake and considered the wrong information.)

      • They say "DS was ill on day of test and did not perform to best of his ability but tests are based on performance on the day." Mitigating circumstances may no longer be mentioned in the Code, but they are not prohibited! Surely the panel has a duty to consider relevant evidence such as a child unexpectedly becoming unwell during the test? If their argument is that the only thing that matters is performance on the day, it rather begs the question "What is the point of an appeal?"

      • Why didn't the panel take into account his achievements in science and sport, and weigh them up in relation to the fact that the school still promotes itself as specialising in science and sport? Instead, they appear to have closed their minds to any curriculum argument: "DS good at science and sport but all schools offer this." But not all schools excel in science and sport!

      • They say our case was not "sufficiently exceptional" to outweigh prejudice to the school. There's no requirement in the Code for the appellant's case to be in any degree "exceptional" - it's a simple balancing of the arguments according to section 3.8 of the Code. The appellant's case needs only to be sufficient to outweigh the prejudice. Why did the panel set what appears to be a higher threshold?

I wouldn't want you to get your hopes up. It's a long shot, as you realise, and that's the wisest way in which to approach this.

Remember not to get drawn into the merits of the panel's decision - the only issue that can be considered is whether the process was flawed!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:43 am 
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Etienne,

You are amazing, thank you so much for the advice. Am going to lodge a complaint with the EFA as i have nothing to lose and will update you when I have a response.

Best wishes and thank you so much again!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 8:10 am 
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Posts: 230
Musty35 wrote:
Etienne,

You are amazing, thank you so much for the advice. Am going to lodge a complaint with the EFA as i have nothing to lose and will update you when I have a response.

Best wishes and thank you so much again!


Having gone through this myself, it is essential that you get a copy of the Clerk's notes before lodging an appeal with the EFA. You should write to the school and to the Clerk requesting copies, if they refuse siting para 2.27 of the appeal code, you need to contact the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - they will compel the School to release the notes.

The EFA will not look at your case, they will only consider whether there was any Maladministration. Because of this, you need check the School Appeal Code and Clerks notes to determine whether the appeal was conducted in accordance with the code


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:00 pm 
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mattsurf wrote:
Having gone through this myself, it is essential that you get a copy of the Clerk's notes before lodging an appeal with the EFA. You should write to the school and to the Clerk requesting copies, if they refuse siting para 2.27 of the appeal code, you need to contact the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - they will compel the School to release the notes.

While I agree that it is always best to have sight of the clerk's notes before lodging a complaint, admission authorities have 40 days in which to respond - and then some of our members have had to wait up to a year before enforcement action was taken by the ICO.
This may not have been your experience, but it depends on the ICO's case load.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 5:42 pm 
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Etienne wrote:
mattsurf wrote:
Having gone through this myself, it is essential that you get a copy of the Clerk's notes before lodging an appeal with the EFA. You should write to the school and to the Clerk requesting copies, if they refuse siting para 2.27 of the appeal code, you need to contact the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) - they will compel the School to release the notes.

While I agree that it is always best to have sight of the clerk's notes before lodging a complaint, admission authorities have 40 days in which to respond - and then some of our members have had to wait up to a year before enforcement action was taken by the ICO.
This may not have been your experience, but it depends on the ICO's case load.


Good point. In my case the ICO took action within 5 weeks. The reason I mentioned it is because visibility of the clerk's notes were essential. Our original complaint to EFA was dismissed because we did not have the notes, it was only when we had a copy of the notes that the EFA re-opened the case


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 28, 2016 6:32 pm 
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In our experience the ombudsman's handling of complaints was better. In most cases the LGO investigator sent a copy of the clerk's notes to the appellant, which made the process more open and transparent.

I hope something comes of this proposal:
viewtopic.php?f=35&t=15484&p=578520#p578520

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