OK - Glad you've done your homework!
There was no mention of 'appeal' in your opening post, so it wasn't clear whether the issue was 'review or
appeal' or whether to proceed at all.
We know that an appeal panel prepares for batches of around just 5-7 cases at a time, and spends at least 40-50 minutes hearing, discussing and deciding on each case.
Review panels decided on something like 30-50 cases per half-day session last year, having spent an average of 7 minutes (they say) preparing each case.
It gets worse, though - Sally-Anne heard from a reliable source that the last of the 20 Selection Review Panels met early in the week in which the results were posted to parents last year - a mad dash for the finish line?
The meeting was scheduled to last 3 hours and in that time the panel was due to consider 60 cases. 3 minutes per case!
Is there much doubt which system is going to give your case the most thorough and careful consideration?
On the other hand, you're right to point to the fact that a successful review has the benefit of inclusion in the first round of allocations.
If you were thinking of skipping the review and going straight to appeal, you have to consider carefully
(a) whether your preferred grammar schools are likely to be undersubscribed (Chesham Grammar, for example, or Sir Henry Floyd - both excellent schools), or alternatively
Among the uncertainties is the fact that if you were to go through an unsuccessful review, you have no way of knowing in advance whether an appeal panel will judge the review to have been 'fair, consistent & objective'. It was clear from reports on the forum last year that different panels arrived at different
decisions! If you were lucky enough to have a panel that judged the review process not to be 'fair, consistent & objective', you would have your case for qualification considered again.
if your qualification appeal were to be successful, and
if the school was oversubscribed, and
if you would have got a place in the allocations but for a flawed review
(lots of if's there!
), then it's arguable that the admission arrangements were not correctly applied, and that because there has been maladministration you should now be offered the place to which you are entitled.
(Whether a particular appeal panel would accept the argument, I can't say - but in the event of an unsuccessful oversubscription appeal, it's a point that would be well worth pursuing with the EFA.)
I wish I had some easy answers for you, but I'm afraid there aren't any. It's a gamble. A cruel system in my view.
Most parents will opt for a review simply because it comes first ...........