My husband and I are both vaguely eloquent or rather we are used to speaking from time to time in public but when it came to Appeal Day, in front of the panel, neither of us felt very composed and that fact we were talking about our 'little soldier' and his future made the whole issue so much more emotional.
Don't worry, it is not the panel that make you feel that way, they are regular people who speak normally, dress very normally, appear to act normally, it's the fact you are trying to get it right for your child that makes the occassion so hard.
Our downfall was 'lack of academic evidence'. Our Head was rubbish, hated the grammar school system and didn't care so we walked in with a sheet of paper saying what a lovely 'little soldier' we had whereas what the panel wanted was some of the following, or similar.....
Here is evidence of his last VR score showing he is capable of reaching Bucks grammar school requirement (121 or above);
Here is evidence of his CAT score earlier this year;
Attached is a copy of his English essay which was displayed at a recent school event;
Here is his latest maths test where he came 1/2/3 out of a high achieving class/year;
He is gifted/talented in reading
He attained Level 5 in English and Maths at the end of Year 5 and a note from his teacher saying he is maintaining this level.
Here is a note from a French teacher saying how well he is learning in her lesson...
These all form part of the letter you send in beforehand to the Appeals Panel. All of the above can be attachments to your main letter, then on the day of the Appeal, just read the letter again to the panel, refer to the particular achievement and wait for the panel to flick the pages until they find the evidence supplied previously.
Yes, they have read it before but remind them of the great achievements to date, make them listen so they understand the point you are explaining, remember they listen to hundreds of Appeals in a short period of time. Unless his reason for not making the mark is unusual, dwell very little on that negative aspect, carry on waving his flag!
Once you have reached the end of the letter, if you feel you want to add something slightly less academic have a few notes to remind you to tell them how he is a well rounded, nice kid. Scouts, piano, swimming, football, chess, whatever. And if you feel brave, look at the panel at this point, look down quickly if the brave pill wears off.
Once you have done your bit and the panel/LEA ask you questions they will ask you to sum up - so bring out another sheet where in 30 seconds you read out very briefly his best/outstanding 5 academic attributes so as when you leave the room they have firmly placed in their mind some wonderful images of your bright, well rounded, enthusiastic son with fab parents to help him along the way.
So, in essence, the hardest part of the Appeal is you getting together your paperwork, your Head (and your own 'head') may be busy with Xmas coming up but go back again and again until you have a heap of great evidence about your son and then sort through it and decide what do you think makes him different from the child in the Appeal before yours.....
Come back to the Forum and ask more questions, loads of people on this site have passed Appeals and will have some great ideas and advice - good luck - it could be a busy and frustrating few weeks but hey, it could be a great outcome if you get it right.