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 Post subject: Diabetes
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 1:32 pm 
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Hi there,
Newbie here. Just discovered your website, thank you for all the information and advice.

I have a very specific query about mitigating circumstances following our daughter’s disappointing 11+ result, apologies if it’s been asked and answered elsewhere before.

Our daughter has had Type I diabetes since she was 6 (4 years) and unfortunately it is of a very brittle nature, meaning that she veers between blood sugar readings of 2 and 30 – anything outside of, say, 6-10 has a notable effect on such areas as concentration, focus and attention span. She also wakes most nights needing food and drink and it will typically take around 30 minutes for her blood sugars to stabilise before she can get back to sleep.

So I guess what I’m asking is:

a) would her ongoing medical condition be considered a significant mitigating circumstance? (her consultant and DSN – diabetes specialist nurse – will write to provide factual evidence of the point above

b) Type I diabetes takes huge amounts of work but is not a very well understood condition. I am wary of lecturing the panel about its effects, but also feel it’s important for them to appreciate how serious it is (since the age of 6 Ellie has had to have 4 injections a day, and do 6-8 finger-prick blood tests, so has to manage it herself at school). How do I strike a balance?

Her teacher is broadly supportive, ie she’ll score a ‘!’ in attitude and application, but is concerned that Ellie’s academic results have been a little up and down – at her best she has done very well, but she does have ups and downs. Our contention would be that because of the diabetes, her best efforts are more reflective of her true ability and the weaker ones testament to the fact that she has ‘off’ days (NB her worst CAT score was at a time when her only sibling was having a 5-hour orthopaedic operation), but of course we can’t actually prove this!

Sorry for the long first post!


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PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:07 pm 
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Welcome, Rob.

Quote:
a) would her ongoing medical condition be considered a significant mitigating circumstance? (her consultant and DSN – diabetes specialist nurse – will write to provide factual evidence of the point above
Yes, I think so.

Quote:
b) Type I diabetes takes huge amounts of work but is not a very well understood condition. I am wary of lecturing the panel about its effects, but also feel it’s important for them to appreciate how serious it is (since the age of 6 Ellie has had to have 4 injections a day, and do 6-8 finger-prick blood tests, so has to manage it herself at school). How do I strike a balance?
Best to let the panel read in advance statements from the medical people, headteacher and yourself about your daughter's condition and how it affects her. At the hearing I agree you shouldn't lecture. Just say "I would like to stress what a serious condition this is. I hope you found the information I've already provided helpful - the letter from the consultant, the letter from the nurse, the headteacher's statement, and my own), but if you have any questions I'll be happy to try and answer them."

Quote:
Her teacher is broadly supportive, ie she’ll score a ‘!’ in attitude and application, but is concerned that Ellie’s academic results have been a little up and down – at her best she has done very well, but she does have ups and downs. Our contention would be that because of the diabetes, her best efforts are more reflective of her true ability and the weaker ones testament to the fact that she has ‘off’ days (NB her worst CAT score was at a time when her only sibling was having a 5-hour orthopaedic operation), but of course we can’t actually prove this!
I agree - but why can't you prove the last point? CAT scores usually come with dates (which could be confirmed by the school), and there ought to be some evidence available that the sibling was in hospital at the time.

The further away from 121, the more compelling your case needs to be. I suspect the key issue is not going to be the extenuating circumstances - important as they are - but what evidence there is of very high achievement on your daughter's "good days".

You might wish to consider an ed. psych report for additional evidence of ability. EPs are usually quite good at putting children at ease in a one-to-one situation. Unfortunately their reports are very expensive, and there's no guarantee you'll get the results you want. See the Q&As, B3:
http://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/11plus ... #section-B

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Diabetes
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 4:26 pm 
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Etienne,
Thanks for your response.

I guess what I meant about proof was that we can’t prove that Ellie’s better marks are more reflective of her true ability.

Her CAT scores are, frankly, all over the place. Some years she has done better in VR, others in NVR. Last year’s scores were worse than the previous year’s (due partly to a truly terrible teacher who was off for long periods with stress, but that’s not an avenue to go down with an Appeal Panel, I would imagine!).

So we can find good scores for Ellie, but run the risk of being accused of cherry-picking. because we can’t supply evidence of consistent high achievement. As you can see, it all comes back to the diabetes (incidentally it is classed as a disability and we are in receipt of DLA on her behalf).

Also HT has said she has some reservations about Ellie’s suitability for grammar school but she really has no idea of the day-to-day impact of the diabetes. Our daughter is very independent and never involves the teachers. It’s probably our fault for not making a bigger issue of it over the years.

Could I ask you, with your Appeals Panellist’s hat on, what questions you think an Appeal Panel might ask with reference to the diabetes and its impact?


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 Post subject: Re: Diabetes
PostPosted: Tue Nov 25, 2008 5:03 pm 
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Dear Rob

Quote:
Her CAT scores are, frankly, all over the place. Some years she has done better in VR, others in NVR. Last year’s scores were worse than the previous year’s (due partly to a truly terrible teacher who was off for long periods with stress, but that’s not an avenue to go down with an Appeal Panel, I would imagine!).
It might be worth a brief mention to explain any problems in the curriculum. (It shouldn't have much to do with reasoning tests.)

Quote:
So we can find good scores for Ellie, but run the risk of being accused of cherry-picking. because we can’t supply evidence of consistent high achievement. As you can see, it all comes back to the diabetes (incidentally it is classed as a disability and we are in receipt of DLA on her behalf).
I think you must cherry-pick, and that in your case a panel won't be expecting consistent achievement. What it actually comes back to is: what evidence is there of high achievement?

Quote:
Also HT has said she has some reservations about Ellie’s suitability for grammar school but she really has no idea of the day-to-day impact of the diabetes. Our daughter is very independent and never involves the teachers. It’s probably our fault for not making a bigger issue of it over the years.
You need to tell the panel this.

Quote:
Could I ask you, with your Appeals Panellist’s hat on, what questions you think an Appeal Panel might ask with reference to the diabetes and its impact?
Although they'll probably ask a few questions, you really don't need to focus on that. What you should be concerned about is whether you have enough evidence of high ability - however inconsistent it may be!

Sally-Anne sometimes says appeals should be 90% academic, 10% extenuating circumstances. I'm not sure I'd go that far - I'd probably settle for 50/50! What worries me is that your case might turn into 10% academic, 90% extenuating circumstances.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Diabetes
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:53 pm 
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Posts: 1268
Thanks for the helpful advice yesterday. I’ve now got my daughter’s CATs results and they were as follows:

Year 5
VR 122
NVR 108
Quantitative 116

Year 4
VR 109
NVR 120
Quantitative 120

Year 3
VR 115
NVR 114
Quantitative 112

I readily admit I haven’t a clue how to interpret these, but there doesn’t seem to be much of a pattern! Why would there be such big differences?
How can her Year 5 NVR score be so far down on her Year 4 score, and behind even her Year 3 score? Can anyone help?


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 Post subject: Re: Diabetes
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 5:04 pm 
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Dear Rob

No single test is ever totally reliable, so all children's results will vary. Your daughter's do vary significantly more than most - but it's going to be your case that her condition leads to inconsistent results.

Ideally a panel would like to see CAT scores in the mid-120s, but her most recent CAT VR is reasonably good.

Have a look at the Q&As B9 to see if you can find any other indicators of high ability that would fit your case.

Your task is to convince the panel that on a "good day" she can excel.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: diabetes
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:04 pm 
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Thanks again Etienne, I think I’m beginning to build a case now!

What other indicators of high academic achievements are there?

I know her reading age is some 3 years ahead of her actual age, and she loves reading. Her spelling is above average but nothing fantastic – she was a slow starter because she had a series (3) of grommet operations in Year 1 and a spectacularly incompetent teacher in Year 2 (who was ‘let go’ in the middle of the year), but I’m assuming those are too long ago to have much bearing now.

Her reports are always very good but tend to focus more on her attitude and application, and both we (and the teachers) know there are no issues in those areas.

We know she’s been predicted level 5s in her SATs, but not what level 5 yet as we’re seeing the HT tomorrow.

Are there are any other specific areas I should be looking at as evidence of her academic ability?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2008 7:02 pm 
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The reading age sounds excellent. I assume you have it in a school report? If not, ask the head to include it in the headteacher's summary sheet (there is a box for previous test results).

Spelling age doesn't matter quite as much.

Level 5 predictions are good.

So many school reports these days have little to say about achievement! Check them carefully (especially English/Maths/Science) in the hope of finding words like "very able," "excellent understanding," "grasps new points quickly".

Look for evidence of level 4s in year 5 - might be given in school report for that year.

Are they setted in year 6? Any evidence of top sets might be useful.

Ideally I'd like to see more evidence of "mixed results" (just like the CATs) - to support your argument about inconsistency.

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Etienne


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 10:02 am 
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Etienne wrote:
The reading age sounds excellent. I assume you have it in a school report? If not, ask the head to include it in the headteacher's summary sheet (there is a box for previous test results).

Spelling age doesn't matter quite as much.

Level 5 predictions are good.

So many school reports these days have little to say about achievement! Check them carefully (especially English/Maths/Science) in the hope of finding words like "very able," "excellent understanding," "grasps new points quickly".

Look for evidence of level 4s in year 5 - might be given in school report for that year.

Are they setted in year 6? Any evidence of top sets might be useful.

Ideally I'd like to see more evidence of "mixed results" (just like the CATs) - to support your argument about inconsistency.


I'm not sure we have her spelling age in a report as it was given to us at the last parents' evening, so I'll make sure it's written down somewhere, thanks.

Her Year 5 school grades (assessed when she would only have been 9) were as follows: 5 for reading, 4c for writing and 4a for maths - are those OK?

They are setted for maths only, throughout the school. That in itself is a bit of a saga. She was in the middle set (of three) for Years 3 and 4. At the start of Year 5 she did so well in an internal test that they moved her up to the top set, but she found it quite hard because there were one or two gaps in her knowledge, ie things the top set had covered previously but the middle set had not. So they ended up moving her back down again. Is this worth mentioning, or only if the panel ask?

Her end of term reports don't contain much in the way of specific praise, but we can probably find a handful of phrases like the ones you've suggested, thanks.

There are also numerous comments about how she is able to lead a group without being bossy, and able to work equally well with boys and girls - is this an aspect worth mentioning in passing or not?

Inconsistencies, there are plenty! For example in school tests her year-on-year (4 to 5) reading and maths both improved by three levels, but her writing level stayed exactly the same.

And her school books are packed with comments like 'One day you seem to get this, and the next you don't' and 'Well done Ellie, you've cracked this' followed a couple of days later by 'I thought you understood this principle, but it seems not'.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:21 pm 
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Quote:
I'm not sure we have her spelling age in a report as it was given to us at the last parents' evening, so I'll make sure it's written down somewhere, thanks.
It's the reading age that matters most. (I suspect you meant reading!)

Quote:
Her Year 5 school grades (assessed when she would only have been 9) were as follows: 5 for reading, 4c for writing and 4a for maths - are those OK?
Yes - reading and maths look particularly good.

Quote:
They are setted for maths only, throughout the school. That in itself is a bit of a saga. She was in the middle set (of three) for Years 3 and 4. At the start of Year 5 she did so well in an internal test that they moved her up to the top set, but she found it quite hard because there were one or two gaps in her knowledge, ie things the top set had covered previously but the middle set had not. So they ended up moving her back down again. Is this worth mentioning, or only if the panel ask?
I suggest the latter.

Quote:
There are also numerous comments about how she is able to lead a group without being bossy, and able to work equally well with boys and girls - is this an aspect worth mentioning in passing or not?
Not really!

Quote:
Inconsistencies, there are plenty! For example in school tests her year-on-year (4 to 5) reading and maths both improved by three levels, but her writing level stayed exactly the same. And her school books are packed with comments like 'One day you seem to get this, and the next you don't' and 'Well done Ellie, you've cracked this' followed a couple of days later by 'I thought you understood this principle, but it seems not'.
Best not to use her writing as an example - unless you can show inconsistencies within writing. We're looking for inconsistencies in the same area of work. The comments sound just what is needed. I suggest you quote some of them in your written case.

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