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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 7:34 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
I was filing our appeal papers today and noticed how little real input there was from the school for our (unsuccessful) appeal.

Although there has been a lot of general comment about "the head has been great" or "the school haven't given us any advice", there seems to be no consensus on what information the school could/should provide to parents appealing. Obviously it varies by each case, but is there common information that people have got hold of for appeals from the schools that has been useful?

In hindsight I know that the school has a lot of information that would have helped us, but I just didn't know it existed at the time. There was no intention to withhold it from us, but just a lack of understanding as to what would support our appeal.

Examples could be:
- child's ranking in the school on exam results
- past VR/NVR etc scores, and type of test
- letters from form teachers/subject teachers/Head teachers
- records of other achievements

Was anyone given a member of staff to talk to - form teacher or other - to help them with their appeal?

I jus wondered what support other people were given. I thought it could be useful to future appealers - and we may still have to go through it again of course! :x

Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 9:36 pm 
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Hi Sally Anne, We went through the appeal process this year and found the school to be very co-operative. Once we knew she had not reached the pass mark an appointment was made between us, her head of year and the headmistress. They had readily available her year 5 test results and her current CATS results. They expressed their opinion that she should have achieved a '1' recomendation (score of 131-141 i believe) and wrote a statement of support showing the above mentioned results, her predicted KS2 levels and they also stated she was currrently working at level 5. This was all sent in with the appeal forms and on the day i now know i was asked alot of 'filler' questions - how did she feel after the tests?, what is she currently reading? hobbies? I feel this was because the school were very thorough with their statement and left nothing uncovered. Hope this helps


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 25, 2006 11:31 pm 
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Dear Sally-Anne

Just a few comments from my perspective on your interesting post about evidence for selection appeals.

1. child's ranking in the school on exam results
- could be useful information, if it can be shown to be a high performing school (but I suspect that exam rankings may not be available at most state schools).

2. past VR/NVR, CAT scores, etc.
- high scores could be very useful.
Unfortunately (a) some schools don't do alternative reasoning tests, (b) some heads don't understand how standardisation differs from the 11+ and draw false conclusions, (c) some schools give summarised information which is less helpful, e.g. the average of the three CAT scores, or the average of all the Richmond tests, (d) some heads give carefully selected information to try and help the appellant (this might not work when there are two candidates from the same school, and widely different test dates!).

3 & 4. letters from form teachers/subject teachers/Head teachers + records of other achievements
- could be useful provided that the focus is on academic ability or extenuating circumstances.
Unfortunately (a) some state school heads churn out identically worded letters, (b) some private school heads focus too much on extra-curricular activities such as sporting prowess!

The ideal situation, I think, is one where the parent has a clear idea of what an appeal panel will be looking for (see Q & As), even if the school doesn't, and the school welcomes an open and frank discussion with the parent.

The best evidence any parent could hope for is strong support from a headteacher whose predictions are known to be very accurate and realistic.

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 26, 2006 10:00 pm 
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Hi Etienne

I find it interesting that the information available from schools varies so much. I found it very difficult to get hold of information from the school, not because they weren't supportive, but because the appeal deadline was so close to the end of term. Everyone was running around like headless chickens!

I wonder what the strongest support you have ever seen from a Head teacher is? The official form is woefully brief, so the Head is limited to a very few words in each category. Have you seen other information being submitted by a Head?

Also, please could you remind me (not that I think I want to hear the answer!) - if we get another near miss on 12+, is there an Appeals process, other than the Transfer Appeal for a specific school? I looked at the Bucks website and couldn't find the answer.

Thanks for your input, as always.
Sally-Anne


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 6:50 am 
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(For anyone else reading this, Sally-Anne and I are talking specifically about Bucks when it comes to the details, although the topic itself may well be of wider interest.)

Hello, Sally-Anne

The deadline for 11+ appeals is tight, especially when one considers how busy the end of the autumn term can be, although you could have submitted additional information in January/February (not much help if your appeal was right at the beginning of the spring term!).

I did sometimes see a separate letter of support from the head, although my view would be that the two-sided official form is sufficient to cover the range of academic indicators, and that what matters is quality rather than quantity! The best support I ever saw would lie in the choice of words used by a reliable head.

In the section "Strength of Support", is the head using phrases like "very high academic ability", "great potential"? Does the head write "I support this appeal," or "I strongly support this appeal," or "I cannot stress how strongly I support this particular appeal"? No need to write lengthy paragraphs!

This has then to be compared with the order of suitability and predictions available from most schools in Bucks. "I support this appeal" from a headteacher whose predictions are very accurate would be strong evidence in itself. If the very same head were to write "I cannot stress how strongly .....", that would be a fantastic recommendation!

When it comes to the 12+ (and yes, you would have the right of appeal!), the only evidence apart from the score that is automatically put before the appeal panel is the one-sided form used to inquire whether the school supports entry to the late selection test, i.e. it is intended for Admissions rather than written specifically for an appeal. In this situation I would advise a separate letter of support from the head, provided that it focuses on academic ability/extenuating circumstances, and doesn't go on interminably about sporting prowess!

There is no order of suitability for late selection. If I were a head whose school has a good record of predictions for the 11+, I would remind the appeal panel of this in any letter of support.

I think one should also submit as evidence the latest report to parents, although from an appeal panel point of view, school reports vary enormously in their usefulness. Some go on in excruciating detail about "What we have studied this term/this year" and seem to think it politically incorrect to touch upon anything to do with achievement! A panel is likely to be most interested in achievement grades and how well they correlate with grades for effort.

Hope this is of some interest

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Etienne


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 27, 2006 9:04 am 
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Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2006 7:10 pm
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Location: Buckinghamshire
Most interesting as always, Etienne!

I was particularly interested to learn that there is almost a "code" in the Head's wording. Ours was "support very strongly", so I guess we were not too far off the mark.

Your advice on 12+ appeals is very helpful, as it obviously pays to have all the information prepared well ahead. I shall follow up with the Head on that in due course and perhaps ask you for more information nearer the time.

I'm sending you a PM on a related question.

Thank you again
Sally-Anne


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