our son had VR CAT scores of 118 in Y5 and Y4. The LEA representative asked us to comment on these scores
Unusual for the LA rep. to do this!
their [CAT] scores had improved year on year .... the ex-headteacher on the panel nodded in agreement
This may have been true of Lynsey's other children, but I don't believe such a trend applies in general. With age-standardised CAT scores, I rarely saw any consistent pattern of year on year progression. And I'm sure I often nodded or smiled in response to an explanation, but it didn't necessarily mean agreement!
no mention of a high spelling age as in your case.
Interestingly, panels seem to focus more on the reading age.
Now for some words of caution about extenuating circumstances. It may be unwise to generalise from the particular, especially when, in any individual case, one doesn't know precisely why a panel took the decision it did (unless the clerk's notes have been obtained).
If someone has Bucks scores of 120/119, I wouldn't have been too fussed about extenuating circumstances, but generally speaking
, the further away from 121 you are, the more convincing you have to be. There really should
be verification wherever possible, and for "ongoing" problems there ought to be confirmation from the school that routine work has been affected.
Having said that, I would much rather parents were honest about any lack of extenuating circumstances than that they talk endlessly about ailing grandparents in Scotland and how distraught and inconsolable little Johnnie has been for the past year (especially when little Johnnie is predicted level 5s!).
The rule is: when you're on weak ground, don't over-egg the pudding (or mix your metaphors
). Better by far to say with maximum brevity
"Perhaps xyz had some effect, but we don't really know what happened." Then let the panel draw out of you as much as they want and think relevant.
Just my view ......