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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 1:04 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:57 am
Posts: 8
Dear Etienne

Where to begin - I am sure this is a familiar tale!

Our son is a 5A SATS achieving child with a special gift for history. He is certainly no genius (can be lazy and sometimes does not focus) but is "very able" and always has been. DS had minimal tutoring (our fault) for the 3 London Borough of Sutton grammar schools (hugely competitive, any boy in the country can apply – these schools are in the very top tier for results etc.). DS failed to get a place but did fantastically well, just failing to make the waiting list each time. The 2 boys from his year who got places at the grammars were tutored from age 7 (please take note other parents of naturally clever children!).

Needless to say, on 2nd March, DS was not offered a place at any of the local comprehensives we listed due to huge over-subscription, and we are barely 2kms away from these schools! He was offered a place at a boy’s secondary school which is just out of special measures. We have declined this offer as the school is wholly unsuitable for him. It is a definite non-starter. My husband and I were absolutely distraught for 24 hours, followed by anger that a child with so much potential could be casually thrown aside as part of some social engineering experiment.

Therefore, no school for September. We have started the appeal process for our first choice comprehensive, a school we liked enormously at the Open Evening (my husband preferred it to the grammar schools). My husband and I made a reasoned, informed choice based on visiting schools etc. Why did we ever bother when we had no choice to begin with?

Our specific appeal query is that the newly acquired Humanities specialism of this school, together with our son's particular academic inclination in history, is obviously a perfect fit. This will be the main grounds for appeal but do we need to get any proof?

For example, should we ask a secondary school history teacher to independently assess DS (we don’t know any!) or will a letter from his school be enough? We are still furious with his primary school as no-one has bothered to call us or offer to help and they are aware of the situation.

The other grounds for appeal are the usual: feeder school, good pastoral care for sensitive child, easier to walk to etc. But these appear to be arguments common to most appeals and I am not sure they will make much impact with an appeals panel. I should mention that last year only 3 out of 33 appeals were successful in our area.

Any advice much appreciated.

Yours, in desperation.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 2:34 pm 
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Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:37 am
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Hi

By no way am I an expert (one should be along shortly!).

We are also in the same situation of not having a place anywhere in Sept! Any appeal forms you complete, I think you need to make this point clear i.e. if they don't give you child a place he has nowhere (obviously a lot more eloquently put than that!).

Hope all goes well for you - keep fighting!

Lottie


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:08 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 12:18 pm
Posts: 490
Location: kent
I do hope you get some advice on this thread from an appeals expert like Etienne.

My personal view is that saying that you have no school place for your son will not help your appeal to an oversubscribed school. If I was on the panel it would just make me feel that you were a little odd or had not understood the admissions booklet - clearly neither is the case.

One does not normally turn down the offer of a place until you have another place that you prefer. If I were you I would accept a place at the unpopular school before it is too late, and then pursue places at schools that you prefer via waitings lists and appeals.

Please remember that your applications have been dealt with by a purely bureaucratic system which appears to offer you some choice, but at the end of the day whether you get the school of your choice depends really on living extremely close to a popular school. I don't think it amounts to social engineering.

I would have thought that your son's strong interest in history would be a plus point at appeal as it is a humanities school. As it is not selective, I am not sure his ability at history is relevant.

Anyhow, hope you get some better advice than I can provide on here. Good luck!!


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:44 pm 
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Dear appeallingmummy

Your main point will carry more weight if there is some proof. I would not be looking for a report from a secondary school history teacher (it might lead to some doubts - could this be someone you know privately?). I would like to see a supportive letter from the primary school, and ideally mention of the fact that your son pursues this interest in his spare time. No need to go into detail in the written submission, but be prepared to do so at the hearing. I would like to know what (relevant) television programmes he watches. There ought to be time for him to develop an interest in Egyptology and to fit in a visit to the British Museum as well! :D

I do not think you should make an issue of not having a school place. I'm afraid it's not their problem. You should be focusing solely on why you want a place at this particular school. Of course, if you are asked about your situation, you can reply accordingly - but you don't want to sound desperate and turn it into one of your grounds for appeal.

Quote:
The other grounds for appeal are the usual: feeder school, good pastoral care for sensitive child, easier to walk to etc. But these appear to be arguments common to most appeals

I think you're right, although the feeder school argument is certainly a valid point (even if it's open to lots of other parents too). If you actually have some sort of proof that your son is very sensitive, then you can legitimately link that with the school's reputation for pastoral care.

With a 10% success rate for appeals, it won't be easy - but you seem very realistic. Please don't hesitate to come back if I can be of any further help.

_________________
Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 3:56 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:57 am
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Thank you Lottie and Perplexed. It is good to get a response!

Lottie - we fight the good fight together - good luck.

Perplexed - you are absolutely right about the turning down of the initial school place we were offered (not one of the 6 on our carefully chosen list - I really don't know why we bothered if we are out of all the catchments). Not content with hearsay, I researched the school DS was allocated and it appears in an official list of the worst schools in the country - not good at all. All the advice I have seen is not to be too hasty - but the deed is now done and I suspect we were rather knee-jerk about it (i.e. my child will not go to that school, over my dead body etc.).


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 4:18 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 20, 2008 11:57 am
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Many thanks Etienne for your reply.

I have just drafted a letter to DS school asking, nicely, for a letter of support. I will keep you informed.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 10:11 pm
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Location: kent
Can someone please explain how waiting lists are meant to move if everyone is hanging onto places until a better school becomes available, I am in the same situation turned down the school offered to us as it was 23 miles away and just praying we get in on the waiting list for our first preferance school . Thank you.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 9:24 pm 
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Joined: Sun May 13, 2007 8:03 pm
Posts: 1827
Location: Gloucestershire
appeallingmummy wrote:
Our son is a 5A SATS achieving child with a special gift for history. He is certainly no genius (can be lazy and sometimes does not focus) but is "very able" and always has been.


Hi,

Sorry to hear of the muddle you're in. I'll not give advice, as Etienne is great on that. However, the thing that jumped out at me was your first sentence.

Being lazy and not focusing are to me often signs of boredom. One symptom of Gifted & Talented children can be what you describe as they're not being streatched enough, likewise poor handwriting and 'poor classroom work but testing well'. Hunt down the NAGC web site - they may have some advice for coping with your sons attitude to work (although for some of us it continues into adulthood).

As for the 11+, it just sounds as if the tutor-culture reigns supreme in your area. Shame.

Good luck

_________________
Capers


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:59 am 
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Joined: Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:37 am
Posts: 96
Hi Appealingmummy

You should start a new thread, with your exact area and ask for advice - that way you've got a better chance of someone noticing you, and being able to help you more specifically.

I have had someone from my area send me PM's (Private Messages) and their advice has been totally relevant and subsequently invaluable.

Lottie


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 12:01 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 5:26 pm
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2nd time arround wrote:
Can someone please explain how waiting lists are meant to move if everyone is hanging onto places until a better school becomes available, I am in the same situation turned down the school offered to us as it was 23 miles away and just praying we get in on the waiting list for our first preferance school . Thank you.

Dear 2nd time arround

Someone holding a place at the school you want might appeal successfully for another school that they prefer. There can also be movement when families leave the area, or decide belatedly to go down the independent route.

The amount of movement varies considerably from area to area. 0, 1, 2 places might be offered from the waiting list. Exceptionally, at one popular secondary school I know of, in an area of high mobility, 15+ places became available one year.

_________________
Etienne


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