I have been following with great interest the feedback on past appeals.
One thing that comes through is that those who appeal to more than one school do not seem to disadvantage themselves at all. All the advice you find -and we spent days trawling everything in sight and bought a top level advice pack from one of the providers - says that you should not dilute your case.
I would make the following points:
1. If you are embarking on this then not only have you had the shock of your DC massively underperforming on the day but you have had a bad year with other causes of stress;
2. There is no dry-run. The panels vary hugely and it is not scientific. You have no way of knowing what they want. It is hard to prepare properly and adequately.
All of this means you are going into the unknown - for the first one. If you really honestly and effectively "wash-up" from this first appeal you are on really good grounds for your second one.
We are one of many families who were succesfull on our second appeal. I do not believe that this is an accident. The second school we appealed to had not had a succesfull appeal for over 10 years and while we did have good mitigating circumstances not as good as some families whose stories are on threads on this site and have lost. For each family the learning process will be different but I will list what we learned below just in case it helps anyone at all.
We analysed the questions and realised that they had been probing to find out whether we had asked for our DS to sit the exam on another day. At our first appeal we didn't answer this effectively. Obviously we had not but that was because we didn't know we could for the circumstances we were in. We must have just looked like a couple of scared and bewildered rabbits to the panel though.
We had underestimated the strength of one of our mitigating circumstances - a boy crying in front of our DS.
So at the second appeal we researched and researched the code. We gathered statistics from other grammars using the same exam and allocation system and gave evidence that other schools from the CSSE (Consortium of Selective Schools in Essex) granted appeals year after year, although not in great number, and appeals to this school inevitably failed. We read the part of the code outlining what the panel should be taking on board and appealed for justice.
When we were asked whether we had asked for the exam date to change we referenced paragraphs of the code and the CSSE's own guidance to demonstrate that, given our circumstances this would not have been permissably and that, in fact, it would have been a very risky thing to do and our request would probably have been declined.
We emphasised the crying boy and referenced guidance notes from other examining bodies listing marks to be added for specific circumstances.
We left absolutely nothing to chance. We went through every web-site and listed every question asked and worked through all the angles on all of them. We spend night after night on it.
On the day who knows exactly why we won but we did.
I wish everyone the very very best of luck. If you want more info just send me a PM and I will do everything I can to help.