I am hugely appreciative of everyone who has posted on my thread and others. I thought there would be some value in summarising what as a parent I have learned from reading pretty much every scrap of data on this (wonderful) web site. perhaps I am a bit slow, but it took me a long while to draw the following conclusions and these drastically changed our approach so I thought a) it would be good to share them and b) others might add their comments for future parents....
1) Once your DC has not passed the 11-plus, the appeals process rolls into action with an importantly different question. The question first and foremost now is
"is this child suitable for a GS education"
"should this child have passed the 11-plus"
thus you now have to prove why they are suitable for a GS education based on a whole range of data (more on that below) of which the 11-plus is now only one part. It seems that if you focus too much on the wrong question by dwelling on extenuating circs you will miss out on the one they are really asking.
2) In terms of data to support the critical argument this falls into 3 categories:
a) GOLD standardised (or very standard) tests- the 11-plus, SATS, CATS
b) GILT/GOLD HT report- varying credibility but absolutely key, EP reports, other credible and INDEPENDENT professionals (not tutors)
c) SILVER other school reports, teacher comments, previous HT reports
d) NOT WORTH USING extracurricular strengths, tutors reports, yours or your childs feelings, anything not backed up with data
3) In the light of the above you also have to demonstrate a credible reason why, given that the 11-plus is a gold standard test, it failed to show your DC as suitable on 2 separate dates (when you are may well be relying on similar data to show how good your child is....)
a) obviously the further away from the pass mark the more one is trying to prove
b) This might be genuine disruption in or before the tests with data to support, preferably with some external comment as to how it impacted your child
c) particularly if close to the pass mark and with good proof in part 2 one might successfully argue that there was no clear reason but DC just clearly did not perform- this is probably better than cooking up weak excuses
d) It is unlikely to be illness as our DC's should not take the tests if ill
e) There can be reasons why the test itself is not a great representation- the most commonly mentioned seems to be strength in NVR vs VR (for Bucks where only VR is tested)
f) Complaining about age standardisation when you have an older child is unlikely to be a fertile route unless prematurity is an issue (possibly other significant developmental hitches can be used but I am not aware of them)
g) All the children have exam nerves and most parents considering an appeal are surprised by their childs results so these are probably not going to make an impact on a panel who have heard it 8 times that day.
h) dyslexia/dyspraxia etc may be a reason, but you will also have to show how you child is still suitabe for GS but that it might have impacted the test itself
4) In considering part 3, my own challenge was to not get caught up in:
a) the emotion of describing and reliving a difficult period for us as a family (not relevant beyond brief factual description),
b) Trying to jutify my own behaviour as a parent (really not relevant)
c) Allowing too much of the discussion to be on this rather than answering the central quesion of whether my DC is suitable for a GS
whilst this is of course based on my own particular case I hope it may help some others to structure their thinking and additions from better qualified correspondents may help increase it as a generic resource.