Just a quick bit of feedback for you before I get the results of our appeal.
Before the stage 1 appeal they will send you into a waiting room with the other parents and the school and local authority representative. Everyone was pleasant, and nervously chatty! The first stage of the appeal will take place in another room and it feels quite formal. The Clerk will explain what is going on. She was very clear and helpful. The appeal panel will also introduce themselves, and again, they are very clear and friendly.
The school will then explain why it is full – it will sound terrible, complex and full of reasons why it would be catastrophic to admit even 1 more child (maybe it is!?). You will then have opportunity to ask questions about the school’s statement. If you want to do this, I think it is best to remain calm, friendly and polite! The panel may also ask some questions of the school. The LA will then explain the tests process, and again, here you can ask questions. The clerk will then explain what is happening and the panel will leave (or you will all leave) to decide if the school can take all of the children who passed the 11+ for that school. The panel will then return and give its decision. This will probably be to move onto individual appeals. This took about one hour.
You will then leave and come back at your individual time. There were a lot of cancellations, so you may be offered an earlier slot if you want it. Also, make sure that you have access to the phone number you gave on your submission, or give the clerk your current one, as you may get a call to ask if you want to come early (again, only useful if you want that opportunity).
The clerk will take you into the appeal room, along with the school and LA rep. The school and LA rep must not be in the appeal room without you, before or after, but I thought the whole process was run immaculately, so I don’t think that will happen. The appeal panel were very friendly, but I sat a desk opposite them, with the LA an school reps to one side, so it is quite formal. I took about 25 mins, but I didn’t feel at all rushed, I read through my explanation of the information pack I had sent, and was then asked questions by the panel, the school and the LA rep. The clerk took notes. I probably went too fast – if you are pointing out bits of data, it is worth showing it to them and checking that the panel has found it. The school and the LA seemed very neutral – the LA rep helped the panel understand the 11+ marking scheme, which helped explain one of my points far better than I could. I didn’t know if the panel really understood my school performance data, or if they were just asking me questions to check that I understood the basis of my appeal – however, it was a bit unnerving, and I am glad that our primary school headteacher had explained the data fully to me, and that I had done some research on it. It was suggested that the Fischer-Family Trust data I had submitted showed that my DD wouldn’t achieve a L5 in SATs – I had to point out the Headteacher’s letter explained that it showed exactly the opposite, that it said she was very likely to get L5 in all of her SATs! I found this slightly alarming, as I expected the panel members to understand the school performance data that I was using.
Although it was very nerve-wracking, the whole thing was very well run and made as pain-free as possible. My only other point would be around English not being your first language. I don’t know how confident an English speaker you are, but if you find it difficult to communicate in English under pressure, please think about how you will handle this very carefully. If you can take someone with you that might help, but you should ensure that the clerk and the panel know that English isn’t your first language. They seemed very friendly and so concerned that the process was fair that I am sure they will have experience of helping to compensate for this – eg allowing extra time, checking that you understand the questions, checking your answers etc.
Good luck/bon chance etc!