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PostPosted: Mon Jun 20, 2011 10:17 pm 
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Thanks Alex - we've got a letter from the school detailing classroom adjustments - sitting centrally, checking understood verbal instructions, especially where lots of them - and the fact that they were applying for 25% extra time, which they wrote for us in March when we were submitting paperwork for appeals. When it came to the SATs in May, she was given extra time, and sat the tests in a small office along with a few others (in a year group of 90) who were also getting extra time.
That's interesting re. the medical schools tokyonambu, that it only applies to the final three years. Makes sense to ensure that all Doctors, be they dyslexic or not, can cope with the real demands of the job though!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 24, 2011 4:52 pm 
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We have now had our appeal. 10 minutes in the panel took the decision to adjourn to allow the rep of the school to go away and find out the answers to some questions. However, we still went through the papers for 1.5 hours. We met again 2 days later, to go through these answers and to adjourn again to go through some more material (for half an hour this time!) and this time we were there for 2 hours. A marathon session! We cannot fault the panel for taking the time to consider the issues. Now we just need to await the outcome...


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:09 pm 
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..and we got the holding letter today to tell us we were unsuccessful. Reasons to follow. Devastated. Still think there is something unlawful/ discriminatory about the school's policy of only allowing 10% for ALL dyslexic students rather than looking at EP recommendations, or individual need. At the very least it goes against principles behind access arrangements. The invigilators notes were a joke as well. Now feel panel took against us since our appeal took so long - very apparent one panel member knew the presenting officer. The Chair cracked the not terribly funny joke that our EP was "past it" when my husband said he had over 30 years experience. When told that our child had been assessed as being in the top 1% of population with IQ 135, he said he thought it was at least 148 for Mensa. I was spoken to like a child on a number of occasions by the panel member who knew the presenting officer and told "you're being very..." (didn't complete her sentence) and she made many snide asides, including muttering "I don't know how you've got the time" when I said I'd checked with the primary school and the secondary school about some facts. When the Clerk asked if we had anything further to say, she looked aghast and said PARDON?! to which I said Well you certainly hope so, and yes thank you to clerk who was lovely and reminded the panel at least once they could only deal in facts not assumptions. No point complaining to anyone though is there. Our appeal the week before was also unsuccessful (for reasons we weren't even appealing on for this school - all schools provide dyslexic support) - DD deemed selective by school but live outside a distance radius so didn't get a place. Different case as she sat test before dyslexia diagnosis.
Have another appeal on Tuesday for a non-selective but excellent community girls school with very good dyslexia provision, 6th form, great art and dance and which our DD wants to go to. At around 4.5km away, we're too far by just over 1km.
Feel like there's no point going through this again and why even bother turning up on Tuesday because its bound to be unsuccessful again. Went for special consideration twice and turned down because all schools support dyslexia (perhaps but certainly not equally well) and am just so so tired.
Have no faith at all left in this process :cry:


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:51 pm 
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Oh.. I really feel for you, stillhopeful,

You're in a dreadful situation! We were unsuccessful at a recent appeal and I know it's devastating to get that letter.
The circumstances of the appeal sound very suspect, but I'm no expert by a long shot.
You do still need to go to the appeal on Tuesday though, it sounds perfect for your dd. Just because you've been unlucky so far, it doesn't mean you will be next time. I do sympathise though. I felt exactly the same and thought I wouldn't be able to go through it all again, but I did.
Give yourself a little time to get it all out of your system, then put it behind you and start thinking of the next appeal afresh. It helped me.
I wish you the best of luck for Tuesday.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:02 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
stillhopeful wrote:
Still think there is something unlawful/ discriminatory about the school's policy of only allowing 10% for ALL dyslexic students rather than looking at EP recommendations, or individual need.

In Gloucestershire I think all the heads of the grammars have a meeting before the exams to decide on who gets what allowance. I think they were allowing 25% for certain categories of Dyslexia (I think it was the top tier) as officially diagnosed, but others (say just on School Action) got nothing. There are, after all, different degrees of Dyslexia & other SENs. Also, just because a child has - for example - dyslexia and is given extra time, doesn't mean they're going to pass the test - they might happen to be of average intelligence with dyslexia, rather than 'grammar school' bright with dyslexia.

Can I suggest that you consider moving to Gloucestershire? Seriously. We have great grammars & (with a couple of exceptions) great comps. The other thing we have are polite panels who, even under stress, would take your appeal seriously, in as friendly and relaxed a manner as possible. We wouldn't make remarks such as those to you, and even if an appeal runs over by 1/2 an hour, still give you as much time as you need to make your whole case (but if you start going in circles, we might nudge you onto the next point). We are also well versed in SEN & discrimination. You would get a fair hearing. As to if I would have allowed your appeal - I don't know without seeing all your casework or hearing the schools side - but the IQ, VR or Mean CAT score of 135 would certainly have been taken into account.

Sorry to hear it was such a bad experience. It really doesn't have to be like that.

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:25 pm 
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Thanks ofsoundmind - hopefully you've got/ will get a successful outcome on that one. It helps to have a moan and get some sympathy!
I know I have to get a grip and come to it with fresh eyes and give it all we've got; it's the final push in this horrendous process after all and at least we've got that final chance. I just find it maddening that there are still people who think dyslexia is some kind of excuse/ doesn't really exist and that extra time gives an unfair advantage, rather than levelling the playing field.
Thanks too to capers - it sounds a whole lot more reasonable in Glos! That's as it should be - each ones considered. She's on School Action Plus, but had only been diagnosed 2 months before test. She got 25% in her SATs. She missed it (the cut off - literally the top 120 of around 1200, so many below that who would still be able to cope/ be deemed grammar school capable elsewhere) by 3%, but they made a big thing of it being 9 whole marks and how would she cope. Also got told off for not having the whole raft of school reports with us! We had her latest, which her lovely primary school had given to us a few weeks ahead of time (usually beginning July) which had predicted levels of 5a and 5c, and everything at above average. Panel member had to point out that she was only average at computing though and quiz me about how well she could use a computer! It really didn't need to be as it was, but I suppose the healthiest thing is to think its happened, we certainly couldn't have done any more than we did and move on. Would love to move to Glos. Lived in Bath for 7 years and love that part of the world. Think husband might have something to say about distance from work, and the younger children might not appreciate changing primary schools again (we moved here only a few years ago)!
If I'm honest, of the 3 I do actually think the Tuesday appeal one is the best school for her, rather than a superselective and it is her 2nd choice which is probably only pipped by what was the first by the fact that its so close to where we live :)
If she does go there, rather than where she has been offered, we know that she'll get at least 30 mins 1:1 specialist dyslexia tuition targetted at high functioning dyslexics which is seperate from the more general extra curricular support. This means she won't be going from 1.5 - 2 hours per week small group support and help with writing skills to nothing (which is the case at the school she has been offered who have said they will only intervene if her grades dip on their tracking system!).
Onwards and upwards hopefully!


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 11:18 am 
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Now awaiting outcome of Appeal no.3...Hearing yesterday was ok. Some awkward questions and things we diasagreed with, as you might expect, but overall felt it was conducted in an even-handed way, and as you might expect an appeal hearing to be run. No offensive remarks, or rude comments, no feeling looked down upon/ being spoken to like a child, no feeling negatively judged as a person, rather than the facts in hand, no cosiness between the presenting officer and any panel members.
Still feeling quite raw about what happened last week. I don't know if a different panel would draw a different conclusion and uphold our appeal (and we've also yet to receive the detailed decision letter), but it feels wrong to have been treated in this way and I didn't think anyone on the panel was meant to know either the appellants, or the presenting officer. We suspected that one panel member (experienced rather than Lay) knew the rep of the school quite well and certainly he was given far more scope to make his case (the adjournment was for him to find out some answers) in time and in the assertions he was allowed to make. The clerk did remind the panel a couple of times to deal in facts not assumptions in relation to what he was saying too. The suspicion the two knew each other was confirmed by my husband overhearing them talking about when they would next see eachother at something or other, as we were leaving the room on Friday.
I don't really know what to do about it. It's an Academy. Should I go to the Clerk with the concerns in the first instance about how it was run? If nothing else, I would hope that the panel member who was being so offensive is not allowed to be on future appeal panels, given the way she behaved (and was allowed to by the Chair). At the very least that the process is tightened to ensure people on both sides don't know those on the panel. Certainly for the hearing we had yesterday (which was for a community school, which has its own problems of the Council being both presenting officer and clerk/ legal adviser) we were given the panel members names a week in advance and told to let the Clerk know asap if we knew anyone. That didn't happen for either of the other two.
Any thoughts?
Thanks


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 12:43 pm 
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Location: Gloucestershire
stillhopeful wrote:
no cosiness between the presenting officer and any panel members.

That can be difficult in practice, in that we see them if they arrive at the building at the same time as us, and then for every appeal, and likewise when they leave at the end of the day. It's difficult not to chat to them, as they're just human beings. I'd do the same to the parents if they happened to leave at the same time, or were in the supermarket. What I never do is discuss any of the appeals, neither individual ones nor the whole block of appeals.

My aim at appeals is to make everyone feel as relaxed as possible, so they can put the best case and say all they need & want to say - be they parents or PO's. Believe it or not, I've seen some very nervous presenting officers in the past, especially when they're new, though they tend not to be quite as nervous as parents.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:06 pm 
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I can understand that, and realise that some rapport must build up over the course of a number of appeals - in this case over 30 in the same week for the school. However, this was definitely beyond just that; no doubt in our minds that these two have known each other from some time in the longer term past and were friends.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 3:35 pm 
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Even though panel members inevitably get to know some presenting officers, I do think they should be very careful not to convey that impression.

An appeal should be 'as informal as possible', but there's no getting away from the fact that it's a quasi-judicial hearing, and there's bound to be a degree of formality. Whatever the 'tone' of the hearing, however, I am in no doubt that from start to finish the panel should be meticulous in treating both the parents and the presenting officer with exactly the same degree of formality/informality, and no suggestion of favouring one party rather than the other.

Quote:
I didn't think anyone on the panel was meant to know either the appellants, or the presenting officer
That's not quite correct, because the issue is really whether they know one another to the extent that there might be perceived to be a conflict of interest. Any connection must be declared, so that the possibility of a conflict of interest can be properly considered.

Quote:
I don't really know what to do about it. It's an Academy.
I think it would be entirely reasonable to write to the clerk, raising your concerns about the hearing, and saying that you are considering whether to proceed with a formal complaint, first to the Academy, and then - if necessary - to the YPLA, but would like to establish first of all on what basis the panel member and presenting officer know one another (and expect to meet again). You could ask whether the procedure set out in the Code of Practice was followed in this instance: "When panel members receive their papers for the appeal, they must notify the clerk to the panel if they know, or have had a previous connection with, any of the parties to the appeal in a personal or business capacity, so that the appropriateness of their sitting on the panel can be considered." [my underlining]

You could also express concern that you were not sent the names of the panel in advance of the hearing, which is a clear breach of the Code of Practice.

I suggest you ask for a copy of the Academy's complaints procedure in case you 'need to take the matter further'.

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