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 Post subject: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 1:24 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:16 pm
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Hi!

I am new here so I hope I am asking my question in the right place.

We are residents in Milton Keynes, and my daughter sat the 11+ exams in September. She was expected to pass but missed by a few points, with a score of 117.
There has been a number of attenuating circumstances that are extremely likey to have contributed to a lower than expected score.

First of all, after almost 7 years at our current address, we have been given notice by our landlords about 2-3 weeks before the test. I know that my daughter has been very stressed about this, worried that we would end up homeless.

Another major source of stress for our daughter has been the fact that I have been extremely poorly with Covid for the whole of August and beginning of September. I was litteraly bed bound for the whole of August and lost a lot of weight at the time. I have since returned to work but haven't been able to return full time yet. Not only she witnessed me being extremely ill, but she also felt strong guilt as I almost certainely caught from her (she tested positive 2 days before me)

Finally, although it sounds like trivial children's stuff, the afternoon before the exam, my daughter had a very unusual fall out with her two best friends at school, who bluntly told her they didn't want to be friend with her anymore. This played heavily on her mind, and she was still awake at midnight crying with upset. Unfortunately, this means that she basically walked into the exam room yawning.


Both her headteacher and Year 5 school teacher have been extremely supportive of my daughter attending grammar school, and have each written a VERY supportive letters highlighting her academic abilities, but also mentionning the circumstances I mentionned above (including the girls' argument, as it happened during the school day) and how they believe these circumstances would have affected her score.

I guess my questions are:

- should I include both letters from headteacher and Year 5 teacher?

- In his letter, the headteacher specifically mentions Royal Latin school as this is the grammar school would would apply for anyway. He explained that he mentionned a specific grammar school as he wanted his letter not to be generic. Is this a good idea or is it better to talk about suitability for grammar schools in general at this point?

- Is it appropriate for the letters to include references to the circumstances I highlighted above, including the friends' argument?

- We have finally found a house, which happens to be about 0.7 miles away from Royal Latin (although it could look like we specifically looked for a house in Buckingham, it was actually a coincidence as we would have rather stayed in our current village). However, we are only at the "offer accepted" stage. I guess mentionning that we will be moving within catchment is not to be mentionned at this stage (I understand that it can be frowned upon as people often move on purpose to be in catchment of a grammar school)? Should we mention it on the Secondar school application form instead?

Finally, a more general question as I am still confused as to when it is best to request a review and when it is best not to, and wait to request an appeal instead?

Many Many thanks for your help. This is such a stressfull and confusing time!


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 15, 2010 3:45 pm
Posts: 7857
Welcome to the forum.
The arrangements for appeals for Buckinghamshire are here. These are from this year but shouldn't differ too much for 2022 entry.
The details regarding moving into catchment for Buckinghamshire schools is here

If you decide to opt for a review & your child is successful, the new address won't be considered in the first round of allocations on March 1st 2022.

I will leave Etienne to comment on the content of the review submission.


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 3:58 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:26 pm
Posts: 8648
Welcome! :)

aanthian wrote:
- should I include both letters from headteacher and Year 5 teacher?
The headteacher normally fills in a form (as opposed to providing a letter). See E32:
https://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appea ... aneous#e32
When you submit your review application, the letter from the Y5 teacher could be included as an attachment.

Quote:
- In his letter, the headteacher specifically mentions Royal Latin school as this is the grammar school would would apply for anyway. He explained that he mentionned a specific grammar school as he wanted his letter not to be generic. Is this a good idea or is it better to talk about suitability for grammar schools in general at this point?
The particular school is irrelevant.
The issue is academic suitability for any Bucks grammar school.

Quote:
- Is it appropriate for the letters to include references to the circumstances I highlighted above, including the friends' argument?
Yes. If the school was aware of the circumstances, and think they had an impact, it will count for far more than anything you write!

Quote:
- We have finally found a house, which happens to be about 0.7 miles away from Royal Latin (although it could look like we specifically looked for a house in Buckingham, it was actually a coincidence as we would have rather stayed in our current village). However, we are only at the "offer accepted" stage. I guess mentionning that we will be moving within catchment is not to be mentionned at this stage (I understand that it can be frowned upon as people often move on purpose to be in catchment of a grammar school)? Should we mention it on the Secondar school application form instead?
It's irrelevant at this stage.
And I don't think anyone will be interested at any stage until you have actually moved and can provide all the evidence required.

Quote:
Finally, a more general question as I am still confused as to when it is best to request a review and when it is best not to, and wait to request an appeal instead?
If you want to go to review, you must make a request now, and then submit your application by the published deadline.
https://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/appea ... aneous#e32

If you want to go to appeal, you apply during March.
Note that, if you have already been through an unsuccessful review, it could make an appeal very much more difficult to win.

You say that the transfer test score was only a few marks short, and that the school is very supportive, so it sounds as if a review could be worth pursuing - but it depends what the headteacher writes about academic ability on the form mentioned above. Having seen a copy of the form (which will be sent to you automatically), you must then decide whether or not to go ahead with a review.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:16 pm
Posts: 8
Thank you so much for your reply!

I have a few more questions (or rather clarifications on your answers):

* I asked whether I should include letters from both headteacher and Y5 teacher. You replied that headteacher normally fills a form.
The form has been filled and I have received a copy; the headteacher has indicated in section 6 of the form (6. HEADTEACHER’S ADDITIONAL INFORMATION IN SUPPORT OF THE CHILD) that "an additional letter will be written. This is not something I asked him to do, but he felt strongly that my daughter should be considered for grammar school, hence having a letter from both headteacher and teacher. I guess it can't hurt to have more supporting evidence of academic ability?

* I also mentionned that in his letter, the headteacher specifically mentions our daughter's suitability for Royal Latin.
Your reply indicated that "the particular school is irrelevant. The issue is academic suitability for any Bucks grammar school". Academic ability is definitely expressed, but do you mean that it would be best to actually remove the specific mention of Royal Latin , or it doesn't matter? If necessary, I could ask the headteacher to re-write the letter mentionning suitability for grammar schools in general?

Again, thank you so much for your help!


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Mon Oct 25, 2021 10:49 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:26 pm
Posts: 8648
Hi again

In your first post there was no mention of the headteacher's review form. It read as if a letter had been provided instead. :?

Quote:
I guess it can't hurt to have more supporting evidence of academic ability?
Not if it adds value, but (a) it's unusual for a headteacher to write a letter in addition, because there's room on the online form for him to write as much as he wants - the space available in section 6 automatically expands if more room is needed, and (b) the form is structured so that the answers give the panel the exact academic information they want from the school.

Quote:
do you mean that it would be best to actually remove the specific mention of Royal Latin
I'm not sure I would go that far - unless perhaps there are any other irrelevancies in the letter which might start to dilute your case.
What is the academic evidence of high achievement that couldn't be included in the standard form, I wonder? I hope the head hasn't written a character reference. The focus needs to be on academic ability, plus the impact of any extenuating circumstances.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:11 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:16 pm
Posts: 8
Thank you very much for your reply. All very useful!

Regarding your point on the letter, is there any way I can share that with you to help me decide whether it should be included in the request for review? My feeling is that it would help the case, but I am a novice so could be wrong!

One last question I have is about the Review Request: when filling the form from Bucks council, in the "reasons for selection review" section, should I write it as I would write a letter (i.e: starting with something along the lines of "dear..., I would be grateful if you would consider....") or should I just list points straight away?


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Thu Oct 28, 2021 7:37 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:26 pm
Posts: 8648
aanthian wrote:
Regarding your point on the letter, is there any way I can share that with you to help me decide whether it should be included in the request for review? My feeling is that it would help the case, but I am a novice so could be wrong!
Would you like to scan it - or type out in full what it says - and send to appealsbox@elevenplusexams.co.uk
(This email address is only for incoming mail, and by invitation only.)

Quote:
One last question I have is about the Review Request: when filling the form from Bucks council, in the "reasons for selection review" section, should I write it as I would write a letter (i.e: starting with something along the lines of "dear..., I would be grateful if you would consider....") or should I just list points straight away?
Whichever you prefer - it will make no difference.
What matters is the evidence.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2021 9:35 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:16 pm
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Good morning Etienne,

Just to let you know, I have now sent you background information in the Appeal Box.

Thanks again!


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2021 3:23 pm 
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Joined: Mon Dec 12, 2005 6:26 pm
Posts: 8648
aanthian wrote:
Good morning Etienne,
Just to let you know, I have now sent you background information in the Appeal Box.

Thanks.

Let me start by saying that I do not mean in any way to be critical of the headteacher. He is clearly doing his absolute best to support your case. He's being really helpful, and if this were an appeal, his letter would be almost perfect!
Through no fault of his, he is out of county and is not fully in touch with the Bucks system.

He starts with "Dear Appeal Panel" - but it's not an appeal panel, it's a review panel which is very different.
He ends by offering to communicate further with the panel - but no panel can communicate directly with the primary school.

The comments on academic ability are fine (I particularly like a "fiercely academic mind"! :D ) - but there is too much about character (mentoring pupils, positive impact on the school, etc.).
The only two issues for a review are (a) academic ability, and (b) extenuating circumstances. Anything else is a distraction.

What to do about this?
In case your relationship with the headteacher and your diplomatic skills are such that you feel able to ask for the letter to be re-written, I'm sending you an edited version showing how to keep the focus on what really matters for the purposes of a review.

If (understandably) you would rather not do this, an alternative approach would be for you to include the letter as it is, but explain in your own statement that the head has mistakenly written a letter of support for an appeal, but that you have underlined the relevant parts that you would like to bring to the attention of the review panel.
My edited version might help with regard to which bits should be underlined.
(Please don't use a highlighter as it will create problems when photocopied - underline in thick black ink.)


The class teacher's letter is fine. It focuses on academic ability and extenuating circumstances, and isn't aimed at one particular grammar school.

The other documents also seem fine.

Please let me know if I can be of any further help.

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Etienne


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 Post subject: Re: Requesting a review
PostPosted: Fri Oct 29, 2021 3:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Oct 25, 2021 12:16 pm
Posts: 8
That's great feedback, thank you! I can't beliee that I had missed the Appeal bit at the very beginning of the letter!
I will actually contact the headteacher and ask if he could re-write the letter. I have nothing to lose; I just need to be diplomatic about it! ;-)

Now, with these two letters (headteacher and teacher), would I need to provide proof of attenuating circumstances or the letters already mentionning it would be enough?
I was extremely ill with Covid and bedbound for over a month. I narrowly avoided hospital, but was obviously off work, so I could ask my employer for a letter explainign this? Would that be of any use?
For info, I am not sure I mentionned it in my initial message but her score was 117.


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