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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 1:16 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:42 am
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Location: Medway
Hi, can anyone give me some guidance, maybe on their experiences ... My son didn't have a good day on the Medway test, he was a bit 'out of sorts' on the day, but social and self pressure being what it is, he wanted to go, rather than sit the exam another day, in another school in a strange environment. He was not far off the mark, but none the less he was under the 525-pass mark.

We requested a review, with the full support of the school. In fact I went to the school and assisted to ensure that I was aware of all example pieces of work being sent in, and that it was collated and compiled properly, to make easier work for the reviewer. I submitted my request with a covering letter, as did the school.

We discussed in detail the possible outcome with the school and key teachers. These staff have been in the same school for over 15 years and have proven to be pretty accurate in their judgement. Their opinion was that although he was not an academic Olympian, his schoolwork was easily adequate to demonstrate his ability, and could foresee no problem.

His English, which is usually his strong point was remarkably low, so our focus of attention was on his school work in this subject.

You have probably guessed the outcome of the review, which I am not best pleased with. I have had his schoolwork assessed four times now, be professional teachers and coaches, and no one can see what the problem is. . other than Medway EA. Their Review comments ...all 3 of them , written in very poor English , commented on the school draft work not being in his school book , but on loose paper , and the grammar in his science book not being as good as in his English book.

That's it . No actual fact or statement, that maybe direct or indirect speech was not used, poor spelling, ability to maintain the thread of a story ... nothing other than subjective comment.

When we submitted the school work, his loose paper (draft work) was stapled to the final work, accidentally this was folded, and two pieces of work were double stapled, making reading of the final and draft pieces virtually impossible.

When the schoolwork was returned from the council, the staples had not been removed

I don't think that they even looked at it.

Looks like I am stuck with the appeal to the school (Grammar) to actually get my placement.

I have written to the council and the Director of Child Services lodging a grievance about this, to which I was at least expecting a meeting , but so far no luck.

As a matter of principle , in addition to the future of my son's education I want to get this decision overturned and feel that my son have not had a fair review , or at least been given an explanation as to what is wrong with his writing ability.

I am finding this a hard door to open .... has anyone ever managed to get an audience with , or successfully got Medway to reconsider.

In expectation

AJ


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:17 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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Sorry to hear this, AJ.

My own authority no longer has a Review process, but if it did, its response to your situation would have been "If you're unhappy, you can go to appeal."

The only other possibility I can think of is that you ask your local Councillor whether there is anything he/she can do to intervene and get some answers for you.

Good luck

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 10:28 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:42 am
Posts: 5
Location: Medway
Thanks for your comments Etienne.

I have already got my local Councillor involved who have given me some contacts higher in the food chain.

The council are no only offerring me an appeal to the school , however I am taking issue that I consider the review to be inconsistant and non conclussive. I am currently reading through the data protection and freedom of information act for reference before I speak to the ombudsman.

If the EA could explain what is defficient with his school work , then I would accept the situation , but currently they are not willing to divulge any more info.

Regards AJ


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:11 am 
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The data protection act is worth trying, but be prepared for the possibility that the "minutes" of the review panel will say little more than "not upheld" ......

Not entirely sure about this, but the LG Ombudsman may not want to get involved until after an appeal has taken place. I would suggest ringing their helpline at some point for a preliminary chat to sound them out.

You seem to be doing all the right things. Hope you can get somewhere with this .........

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 11:59 am 
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 8:03 pm
Posts: 1827
Location: Gloucestershire
Etienne wrote:
Not entirely sure about this, but the LG Ombudsman may not want to get involved until after an appeal has taken place.


We don't have reviews here in Gloucestershire either - as I understand it, they're informal, rather than statutory. I would definitely recommend going to appeal (by which I don't mean appealing against this review, but against the original results, etc).

If the appeal is not conducted properly, by all means take it to the Ombudsman, but please note that if it is conducted properly and fairly, you will have to abide by the appeal panels decisions (as will the school).

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Capers


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2008 5:20 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:25 am
Posts: 229
Hi

I was sorry to hear about your circumstances which unfortunately I am all too familiar with.

The school we applied for also offer a "review", but it was completely pointless and the school use this as an opportunity to dissuade possible appellants for launching official appeals. The school amissions governor actaully told us on two separate occasions that our appeal would definitely not succeed. She also told us that the only grounds that an appeal panel would accept would be death of an immediate relative on the day of a test. This was of course most unhelpful and we found it quite intimidating.

I have had absolutely no success thus far with any of the persons contacted for asistance, and astonishingly the Ombudsman could not see what is blatantly going on in our area even after having it virtualy spelled out, or worse possibly chose to ignore the points raised.

Despite what sounds like doom and gloom, I would thoroughly recommend that you put together an appeal as daunting as it may seem. We certainly feel that we did our very best to sort out the situation, and had we not done so - would always have wondered about what success we might have had.

This brilliant web site offers great support and information. I wish you the very best of luck whatever decision ytou make.


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 5:31 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 18, 2008 12:42 am
Posts: 5
Location: Medway
I can tell you many a similar storey. His overall score was 501 . Before the actual test he had sat a number of ' assessment' test. Not the ones from WHS but with private coaches. Generally his core has been about the 550 marl all year. His Math and VR were OK, but his English score was remarkably low, and then with his age adjustment, we have ended up where we are. From his school work , his worst English piece is graded at 4b and his best at 5a , we can only guess that he completely missed the plot on the creative writing. His entire school has unusually low English scores across the , which is very strange. This is a school that has a proven consistent record . They expected maybe 10% off their pupils not to get their expected grades. As it turned out ONLY 20% got their expected grades and the majority are at least 20 - 30 points LOWER than they should be , as due to low scoring in the English. Even the school have appealed to try an ascertain what is wrong with the English paper. Its as if the school have not been teaching the children correctly , or the papers for this school have not been marked marked against the same criteria as for other school. Within the school , there is a pair of twins ... one is a Mensa child and the other is not so gifted , and has some learning difficulties and was not to sit the test ..... would you believe they got the SAME English exam mark ???
The English teacher has worked in the same school for over 20 years , and is completely bemused.
Unfortunately , the council stance is that they have no evidence that the marking and examination process was in appropriate , therefore they do not have a case to answer , and have pointed out that we can wait to the next stage and raise these issues in our appeal cases.

My answer to this is not repeatable here , as this in addition to a few other facts that I have come across , implies that my son's review was not processed correctly. I actually suspect , that his work was at the lower end of the pile , and once the 2% target have reached , the lids came off the sandwich box , and the rest is history. Whether we are successful or not this is a miss justice , and we should not be in this position at all. Through misadministration or some other clerical error , I am having to jump through hoop after hoop , because of a 'criteria' that has been applied to my sons school work.

He is in top stream in Maths and English at school , has letters of recommendation from his teachers , school principle and the tutors / coaches that we have had to use for the Kent test (our backup plan). All this has been presented as evidence , but most of the information was rejected (deemed as not based on official curriculum). In the meantime , I know of many other children who have had a successful review , and I also know the quality of the other children's work , which is far lower . How can they get through , and I can't ?

This is the reason why I am requesting under the data protection and freedom of information Act , to see the exam papers , as so far the only detrimental comment I have on his work from the council is related to his science , in fact the comment is that his grammar is better in his English work than in his science. !!! , which acknowledges he is capable , if not consistent.

Sorry I have gone on a bit here , but as you know , this becomes personal and full of passion. We are not just upset because our son didn't pass , and are not trying to force a square peg in a round hole. We have 2 other older children with different abilities. We just request a fair and equal chance for our son who ahs proven his ability in his school work , but not , unfortunately in this exam.

I will keep you posted with developments. I have requested a meeting with the head of child services , have ongoing dialogue with the head of admissions , and should be meeting with the ombudsmen next week.

I will keep you abreast of developments.
TTFN AJ


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2008 6:03 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
Posts: 7059
Dear AJ

A very interesting case (albeit infuriating for you).

I suspect there are other LAs that are inclined to secrecy as far as their review procedure is concerned, and think they can get away with it because it's non-statutory.

You seem to have good reason to suspect that the LA may not have followed its own procedures properly, and I do wish you success in your quest for transparency.

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PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 12:50 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jun 30, 2007 9:25 am
Posts: 229
Hello Aj

Goodness what a time you've had. I really do feel for you as I share much of your experience. It feels as though you are banging your head against a brick wall sometimes.

We are considering entering our child for 12+ (yes - that's how long the appeal process has taken!). The appeal process was extremely difficult to negotiate and we were left with an impression that it was a futile exercise.

The Ombudsman said:

That it was o.k. for the school admissions governor to have told us (twice) that our appeal would not be upheld.

That it was acceptable that the same clerk had sat (employed by this foundation school) for 8 consecutive years, and one panel member for 5 consecutive years along with him.

That this long serving panel member was allowed to claim that she had no knowledge of the poor standards at the allocated alternative school when the clerk expressly stated that she was employed for her local knowledge.
(She is Head of Teacher Training at an F.E. College two miles form the allocated school which is a feeder school for her college).

That it was acceptable for the school to hold their appeals in a darkened oak panel room set out like a court of law. This was intimidating and oppressive and we feel designed to be so, flouting the Admissions Code of Practice guidelines for informality at appeals.

I had advised the longstanding clerk that I recognised the name of the panel member before our appeal as I also work at the F.E. College. He assured me that I could not possibly know her as she was from outside the area. At that time we were under the impression that everything was above board and honestly managed, therefore we trusted this advice.
At the appeal I thought the panel member bore a striking resemblence to my colleague, but fearful of causing any fuss - remained silent.

Immediately afterwards I contacted the clerk and said that although I didn't wish to be obstructive, that I felt that this member of the panel was indeed a colleague of mine and that in the interests of fairness we really should resit the appeal hearing with completely independent panel members. This was refused, the clerk insists that my colleague does not know me socially and therefore it was o.k for her to hear our appeal.

We believed at that time that there was a possibility that our appeal might be upheld having provided evidence from Doctors about disability, Head Teachers recommendation (HT attended appeal to represent child), and other government evidence regarding special circumstances.
The child achieved straight level 5 SATS etc etc.

Therefore - worried that if our appeal were upheld and others were not, we did not wish to find our position in jeopardy. We requested a fresh appeal and this was refused.

The other anomalies / evidence / astonishing revelations which came to light post appeal made no difference to the decsion by the Ombudsman.
Surprisingly we do not hold this against the Ombudsman's office because they are based some 250 miles away and have no idea what's going on in this area. It is truly frustrating to receive the child's recent school report with each box ticked "excellent", " a pleasure to teach", "asset to the school", "hard worker", "committed to his studies" and so it goes on.

I read the posts from other families with great empathy and sadness at the mismanagement of children's education, all over the sake of either funding / policy / general mistakes. All my very best wishes are with anyone entering "the process" right now and much support is available of this site from experienced moderators - thank goodness!

Best wishes.


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