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PostPosted: Sun Mar 19, 2006 7:24 pm 
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I ordered this book from this site Thursday afternoon, and it arrived Friday morning. Incredibly fast service.
I would strongly recommend that anyone thinking of making a parents appeal buys this book. It is a source of invaluable information on how to structure an appeal. It seemed expensive, especially buying such a book without being able to glance at the contents. However, it is worth every penny. :) :)


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 2:05 am 
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I'm sorry to have to disagree.

I note that the author briefly publicised his book on appeals in a recent post under another thread. I took the opportunity to read the book this weekend, and I cannot recommend it.

It has factual errors: for example, "the appeals committee, made up of ……a representative of the local authority ….". As far as I can recall, this was prohibited at the end of the 1990s!

It gives, in my view, bad advice: for example, "Concentrate on one main point ……. Do not be tempted to argue on all three grounds …." (i.e.academic, health, circumstantial). On the contrary, I think the appellant really ought to try and demonstrate that there were extenuating circumstances to explain the underperformance, and that there is strong academic evidence that under normal circumstances the child would have qualified. If the child is very bright, it begs the question why did he/she not pass? And what is the point of extenuating circumstances without high academic ability?

I would query the author's insistence that "spelling and grammar are thoroughly checked …." Having sat on many appeals, I never once came across a panel that was in the slightest exercised about the appellant's spelling and grammar! It's the arguments that are being judged, not the quality of the parent's English.

I think it important that parents should be clear what they are appealing against. Are they appealing because their child was not deemed qualified, or are they appealing because their child qualified but the school is full? From the beginning the author fails to distinguish properly between selection appeals and two-stage transfer appeals.

I had assumed from the opening sentence of page 6 that the author was about to discuss selection appeals ("appeals can be worth pursuing if your child has missed the pass mark by a few points"). Immediately, however, he goes on to say "Most appeals are not successful due to the pressure on places". This should have nothing to do with determining the result of a selection appeal!

Any attempt to conflate two different types of appeal would seem to breach the Dfes Code of Practice on Appeals. The Code appears to distinguish between selection appeals on the one hand: "Most admission authorities for selective schools use performance in an entrance test as a basis for determining whether a child is of the required academic standard for admission …………. Panels may take account of parents' arguments as to why their child did not perform their best on the day of the test, or of any evidence to support their contention that the child is suitable for admission to a grammar school"
and two-stage transfer appeals on the other: "In the case of applicants who have been refused admission to a particular school because there are more eligible children than places available …….an appeal panel would follow the normal two-stage process" (i.e. a transfer appeal).

On page 7, in the midst of what is clearly a discussion of selection appeals, the author mentions the "emotional bond" of a sibling, and the "awkwardness of travel arrangements". These are the sort of arguments one would expect at a transfer appeal!

The confusion between selection and transfer appeals continues in the specimen letters: for example, on page 20 parents are appealing because their child did not pass, but there is a request for a particular school on the basis of a sibling and travel arrangements!

The author refers to Buckinghamshire in his 12+ section, but clearly has not researched Buckinghamshire appeals (worth doing since Bucks, as far as I know, is the only wholly selective authority in the country). At Buckinghamshire selection appeals, any statement indicating a preference for a particular grammar school would be considered irrelevant. The only issue under consideration is the general one whether or not the child should be deemed qualified for a grammar school education.

The author does have some good points, but it is with regret that I have to say that in my view they are outweighed by the serious flaws in this book.

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Etienne


Last edited by Etienne on Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 10:13 am 
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Location: Berks,Bucks
I also had a look at a copy of this book over the week-end, and I must say that I was very surprised by the shortness of the book. Considering its retail price, I expected something a lot more comprehensive.

But said that, my views were that the book was broadly consistent with Etienne's views that appealers need to show both the child high academic ability and extenuating circumstances. Altough the author states in the advice part (ever so short!) "Concentrate on one main point ……. Do not be tempted to argue on all three grounds …." , all the sample letters I looked at (I didn't read much the 'academic type') have a strong paragraph on academic ability followed by the description of an an extenuating circumstance.

Most appealing parents would not have read Etienne's advice, and lacking this or any other source of information, the insight into the appeal process that the book gives, even with its inaccuracies, might be more valuable than no advice at all.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 4:12 pm 
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Dear Etienne

Yet again you amaze me with your outstanding knowledge.

I re read the book this weekend......my understanding of appeals is minor in comparison to yours......I must therefore agree with your thoughts regarding the books content.

I think the main website would greatly benefit from a section dedicated to appeals.....guess who would the perfect person for the job?.....thats of course if you could find the time and the energy!

Keep up the good work.

Patricia


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 9:17 pm 
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Thanks, Patricia. You're too kind :oops:
I noted the suggestion you made elsewhere last Friday (endorsed by Sally-Anne), and have been giving it some thought. A similar idea was floated back in January. What I intend to do, when time permits, is to try and consolidate some of the advice. Forumadmin has agreed to make this freely available on the main website as a resource for the convenience of newcomers and anyone else who doesn't want to plough through all the various topics to elicit information. I will continue to try and answer questions in the Bucks section and possibly elsewhere if my attention is drawn (e.g. by private message), and if I think I can be of any assistance. Appeal procedures should be more or less the same throughout the country, but testing arrangements obviously vary.

Catherine, you're right to point out that the author doesn't follow his own advice (isn't that a bit odd?). My concern with his specimen letters is a quite different point: the confusion between two different types of appeal, and the practical consequences that could flow from this (the risk that some parents could be misled).

Regards

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 20, 2006 10:31 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Thank you Etienne - I know it will take time, but it will be of tremendous use to so many people, and might save you a lot of work in future on this forum. (Say in early December 2006, Bucks section?!)

I shall look forward to seeing it in due course.

Sally-Anne

Thanks also to Forum Admin for always listening to suggestions!


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2006 12:59 am 
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Thanks, Sally-Anne.
I'll be sure to get my skates on well before the next round of Bucks 11+ results! :D

Regards

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 4:05 pm 
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Dear Etienne and Catherine

Dont you think that its a bit odd that the author has not responded.? ...if it were my book I would be straight on here to put forward my side of the 'argument'......no reply suggests to me that perhaps he knows there are errors.

Patricia


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 8:29 pm 
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Dear Patricia

Yes. I'd be surprised if he weren't monitoring the forum.

The book says he "has many years of teaching experience both in the Secondary and Primary sector ... (and) ... runs courses for children in Mathematics, English, Verbal Reasoning and Non-verbal Reasoning," but there's no mention of what qualifies him to advise on appeals. As a benchmark, panel members are expected to undergo training every year to ensure that they understand the appeal system and are up to date. I would have hoped that anyone offering a book on appeals at just under £20 would be at least as well-trained and knowledgeable.

However, the flaws in the book suggest to me that the author has only a limited understanding. To repeat one of my previous examples, how could anyone with any knowledge of the system possibly write that a representative of the local authority is one of the members of an appeal committee?
A representative of the local authority sitting in judgement on a case against the local authority??? Now this isn't a mere technicality. What about the independence of panels? What about impartiality? What about natural justice? Doesn't it occur to the author that there's something not quite right here? Has he read and understood the Dfes Code of Practice?
Such a basic error does not inspire confidence in him. It could also mislead nervous parents into thinking that the system is weighted against them, and possibly discourage them from appealing.

The author publicised his book in another thread, saying "(it) shows you how to set out your one page appeal statement which is crucial for success". Crucial? - not in my view. My experience of selection appeals over many years was that presentation makes little difference. Most cases are won or lost on the fundamentals (you either have them or you don't: lots of good indicators of high ability + convincing mitigating circumstances + the evidence). Presentation might be the "icing on the cake", but appeal panels are quite good at teasing out important points from even the least articulate appellant.

The opening advice on appeals is very limited (3-4 pages). Some of the points are valid, some are not. The confusion between selection and transfer appeals is a serious weakness that starts in the advice section (page 7) and continues through into the specimen letters (e.g. page 20). The problem is how are parents to know which bits of the book are right and which are flawed? In my view anyone purporting to offer advice on appeals at this sort of price should not be making any errors at all.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2006 9:22 pm 
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Location: Berks,Bucks
Dear Etienne,

Here's a link to the appeal guidance to parents for the Slough grammar schools.

http://herschel.slough.digitalbrain.com ... dmissions/

Whereas Bucks CC make a clear distinction between selection and transfer appeals, the advice to parents given in this document appears to refer to both kinds of appeal (partcularly the 'decision' part)

How would you interprete this? Couldn't this also create confusion for appealing parents?

Regards

Catherine


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