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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 5:21 pm 
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Location: Bucks
Not sure if it should go here or in Appeals...? And it's going to be a long one ... Sorry !

Ok - we got the clerk's papers & as I suspected - the panel seemed to skim over the key piece of evidence provided. [Letter from Y6 teacher]
Both myself & OH agree that we should pursue a complaint/Local Ombudsman. But after the train wreck of the last few months, we'd like to proceed in the best possible way :roll: Hope you guys can help with C & Cs..?

Of the panel, 2 refused & 1 allowed. Both panel members that refused acknowledged that DS was experiencing ongoing medical problems but they can not disregard the NFER VR score [118] and Y5 report - which does not allow them to overturn the test result.
In addition, the Chair also comments:
..has support of H/T and Y6 teacher but calibre of comments in Y5 report have not convinced me to uphold this appeal.

DETAILS:
Y5 Report: June 2007 Most subjects very strong
Numeracy: [The worst subject]
He showed in his end of year test that he is not as strong on working with graphs, adding decimals and multiplying tens and units by tens and units, where he made some basic errors. In future he must learn to estimate his answer before attempting the question - not just in lessons but in tests also. He also needs to learn to take the trouble to check his work carefully for mistakes before handing it in.

Y5 Report Targets:
To push himself more in class in order to realise his potential.
To contribute more to class discussions.

Additional Evidence:
Silver award in primary maths change Nov 07. [He's very capable at Numeracy]

Letter from Y6 Teacher:
.. is a very able student. He is currently working in the top groups for all the core subjects and shows considerable promise in all subjects but particularly in Science in which he demonstrates not only a very strong subject knowledge but also a capacity to use high level thinking skills.

.. has worked hard this year to counter his natural reserve and now freely engages in class discussions, being prepared to offer opinions and engage in discussions. These contributions are always valuable. In addition he has an excellent attitude towards his class work. He listens to and acts upon criticism and advice and demonstrates a mature approach to his work.

COMMENTS:
1st Para: Kind of overrides the Y5 Numeracy.
2nd para: Shows his increased maturity for both Y5 Report targets.
...

I believe the panel failed to take into account a key piece of evidence. They appear to acknowledge the "supporting letter from Y6 Teacher" - however the content appears to have been completely ignored.
Yet, they accept as current the content of Y5 report.

The Y6 teacher's letter shows that he understood what was required from Y5 report and has made the decision to apply himself at school.

We were virgin parents to appeal process and perhaps should have pointed out that the Y6 letter is an update to Y5 report ? However, didn't want to set off on wrong foot by trying to teach grandma to suck eggs... :wink:

At the meeting, I did comment about his sudden maturity and starting to take greater pride in his work - unfortunately, this is not in the clerk's notes.

Any comments & advice appreciated....
Nx


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 10:23 pm 
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Hi Nicaukids

I'm sorry that the outcome of the Appeal wasn't favourable for you.

Obviously I can only comment on the evidence that you have posted. It appears to me that the case was close, but that ultimately the panel decided that the consistent academic performance that they were looking for wasn't demonstrated in your son's case. The process will have been something along these lines:

1. Acknowledging the positive points (HT support and Year 6 teacher's letter) and considering them (as stated in the clerk's notes. Whilst obviously a favourable element in your case, these letters cannot entirely supercede the Year 5 report, merely help to mitigate the negative comments.

2. Likewise acknowledging the positive and negative points in the Year 5 report, and beginning to balance that against the Year 6 comments and Head's letter.

3. Balancing both of those points against the score of 118 (and the other score, if that was lower) and then deciding if the additional medical evidence was sufficient to have made 11+ score unrepresentative of his academic ability.

The panel will of course have also looked at the Order of Suitability at some stage during the discussion, but as you don't mention it, I am guessing that it was not a strong point for or against in your son's case.

The notes state clearly that all the evidence was considered. The clerk's notes are not a word-for-word record of the the proceedings and inevitably, because the outcome was unfavourable, will tend to focus on the reasons for that.

I am afraid that I would personally have to advise you against an Ombudsman Appeal. There is nothing to suggest that the panel did not consider all the evidence, and the Ombudsman would be very likely to conclude that the correct procedure was followed.

I am truly sorry that I can't be more optimistic for you.

Best wishes
Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2008 11:39 pm 
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Hi Sally Anne, thank you for your reply.... More Questions I'm afraid:

His 2nd paper score was 111. [He said he panicked as he didn't complete first paper].
The panel member that allowed advised he was satisfied that performance was adversely affected by health which must have been accompanied by some anxiety. Taking into account progress in reading ability [Feb 07: 12.7 Sep 07:14.4 ] & SATs predictions - I am pursuaded.

OoS: 9th, 2:1, with passes at 8 & above + 12. [Good I think]

VR Score in Feb 07 was also 118. His reading age improved from 12.7 to 14.4 in that same period. Yet the "Refused" panel did not assume a similar increment on VR score (given the fact he was ill). THIS BIT I disagree with... but know I can't do anything about it :x

While I know the clerk's notes are not verbatim, it would seem they miss the most important part - the content of latest information, Y6 Teacher letter.
Can I ask, why would a Y5 Report hold more gravitas than the letter from his current Y6 teacher, when he has clealy been working towards Y5 targets?
Look forward to your comments.
Nx


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:39 am 
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Dear nicaukids

First of all, a couple of observations (wearing my old IAP hat) that have nothing to do with the process, but might possibly be of interest.
Quote:
His reading age improved from 12.7 to 14.4 in that same period.
I doubt that, and I suspect the panel member who drew conclusions didn't realise that these tests are a snapshot - and, like a snapshot, sometimes blurred. I accept there's enough evidence of a good reading age, but I wouldn't accept that these two results are entirely accurate - nor (most importantly) that the apparent improvement could be applied to a completely different test (the VR score) anyway.

Secondly, school reports are interesting in that they tend to show "warts and all", whereas most references seem to be positive - rather like the order of suitability where, on average, only around 43% of the "2"s actually achieve the predicted score of 121+. You don't say anything about the accuracy of your headteacher - would I be right in thinking that he/she tended to be optimistic? I will eat my hat if the vast majority of "2"s scored 121-130! :D

With regard to a complaint, I rather agree with Sally-Anne in thinking your chances are slim. You have every right to disagree with the panel, but I think you'd have a hard time convincing the ombudsman of a significant procedural fault (based on what we know so far).

Regards

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 12:46 am 
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Hi Nicaukids

With the other score at 111, you had a lot to prove at the appeal. It is easy to think of it as being "just 3 marks", but the panel will look at both scores in balancing your case.

Another factor will have been (I assume from your mention of another 118 score) the absence of any previous VR score above 121?

If I understand you correctly there were 21 on the OoS, your son was 9th and everyone above him passed? That is good but probably not outstanding, as the panel will have been trying to decide where the cut-off point was - above or below your son. It also depends on the Head's overall rankings, etc. However, it doesn't sound as though it was a major factor in deciding your case, which is probably about right.

The clerk's notes don't actually miss the positive evidence - they acknowledge that it was considered by the panel, and we know that from the comments of the panel member who found in your favour as a result of (amongst other things) the progress in his reading ability.

Unfortunately the other two panel members apparently didn't see your son's recent progress in quite the same light, and felt that it was not sufficient to explain away the gap in the scores. The Year 5 report seemed to them to tally with the 11+ scores, and they therefore felt that that the balance of the evidence lay in that direction. Thus, the notes refer to their comments on that.

(N.B. The Chair refers to the new evidence again in saying " ... has the support of the Head and Year 6 teacher", so again it is clear that the evidence was considered, even if the evidence itself is not re-stated. The brevity of the notes precludes that.)

I think school reports do sometimes carry more weight with panels than letters of support, for two reasons. Firstly, the report reflects a whole year of academic work, wheras the newer evidence will not necessarily do so.

Secondly, the report was not written with an 11+ Appeal in mind! There are some Heads and teachers (I am not suggesting that yours fall into this category) who will write almost anything for an 11+ Appeal, so panels will tend to want to see pretty compelling evidence.

Appeals such as yours that hinge partly on "recent progress" are always much harder to win than those where the child has a very consistent track record over several years.

In the end I think there were a few areas of uncertainty that swayed the other two panel members, and the 111 score was probably a fairly significant factor. On 118/118 I think it might have been a different outcome, and you might have got the benefit of the doubt on the issue of the Year 5 report.

I hope that helps you to understand it a little better.

Best wishes
Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 7:25 am 
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Thank you both for all C&C's

Etienne, you're right - only 30% of H/T 2's got over 121 :D

Sally-Anne, we only have the 1 previous VR score from Feb 07 - Think I might ask school on Monday if there are any more ?

Have a good weekend.
Nicky


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:29 am 
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Hi Nicky

I think unfortunately it is too late for that.

The HT's form has a space for recording any previous VR scores, and if any scores over 121 were omitted from that, then I'm afraid there is only the Head to blame.

Best wishes
Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:27 am 
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Hi,

Sorry to learn about your situation - I have to agree with Sally-Anne & Etienne.

The Ombudsman complaint route is astonishingly difficult - with (in our experience) little consistency in outcome for complainents and a requirement for extra-ordinary circumstances.

On paper at least - our complaint to the Ombudsman was a foregone conclusion in our favour. At the very first stage - the Ombudsman's office agreed that many of the breaches of the Admission Appeals Code of Practice did indeed take place. The HT supported the appeal in every possible way. The child had been top in maths for two consecutive years before taking the 11+.
His VR score outperformed over 75% of all entrants for the selction tests in our area - not just his class.
In SATS results he out performed 63% of the children who were successful at 11+
We provided clerk's notes showing several instancves where in his response to the Ombudsman the clerk had strayed far from the actual events recorded by the adminsitrator at the appeal hearing.
We also provided doctor's evidence that the child was ill during the tests - and so the list goes on.
Despite agreeing that all the breaches had occurred, the Ombudsman refused to order a fresh appeal.
It is the opinion of several education and health professionals in our area that if our complaint was not upheld - then no one's would be.
I wish you the very best of luck whatever you decide to do.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:40 am 
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Hi Nicky

I am just sending you a PM

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Sun Mar 16, 2008 6:56 pm 
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Hi, Nicaukids,

It sounds as if the panel did consider everything, but gave a different importance to evidence than you would give it. That in itself to me implies that you have no grounds to take it to the Ombudsman - you can't do it just because you disagree with the panels decision - you've got to know that the process of the panel was incorrect.

To demonstrate in a trivial manner, if a parent sent in a certificate from the cubs to the panel, thinking it was most important, and the panel were not given it, that could be a case for the ombudsman. However, if were were given it but deemed it not useful, then that has been done properly.

It sounds to me like you have a bright child, in the top set, scoring quite well, but borderline for grammar, and maybe unfortunately, the panel decided that there was not enough evidence to allow the appeal.

In your original message here, I can't see anything in the letter from the Y6 teacher that would make me ignore the Y5 report Maths section. In my childs school, being in the top set for Maths means that you're in the top 1/3rd of the class, yet not all of that top set will pass the 11+.

Sally-Anne wrote:
I think unfortunately it is too late for that.


Ye, sadly you can't re-appeal because you have new evidence, and nor would the Ombudsman be able to overturn the panel because of it - it should have been presented at the time of the appeal. If it were possible, you'd be at a disadvantage, as there would probably be no space left in the school to fit your child into.

What alternative schools have been offered? Are they acceptable, or could you appeal / go on the waiting list for one that your child would fit into?

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