They were standard letters and had no reference to our specific case except to mention our DD's name.
I don't believe these letters were satisfactory, Bougalou, or that they met the requirements of the Code of Practice (whichever one was in force at the time - although the wording in the Code is tighter from 1st March 2008 onwards).
The better authorities are continually refining the wording of their decision letters.
Following yesterday's discussion a parent has kindly sent me a decision letter they received (last year?) which in my view meets the requirements of the Code. I reprint it here with their permission, omitting only the child's name.
I am writing to inform you of the decision of the recent Independent Appeal Panel. I am very sorry to have to inform you that the appeal was unsuccessful.
What the Independent Appeal Panel had to decide
As you know, the Local Authority requires children to score 121 or more in its Verbal Reasoning Tests (VRTs) to qualify for a grammar school place. In the light of the fact that *** scored less than 121, the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) had to decide whether there was nonetheless sufficient evidence to indicate that *** is academically suitable for grammar school.
What evidence the Independent Appeal Panel took into account
The IAP at your selection appeal took into account the fact that *** did not achieve the qualifying score of 121 in the VRTs. The IAP then carefully considered information submitted by the Local Authority and all the information you submitted in support of your appeal, either in writing and/or in person at the appeal. The IAP also took into account whether there were strong reasons for not achieving the minimum qualifying score of 121 in the VRTs. The evidence weighed up by the IAP included the predicted SATs scores, school work, and the head teacher's letter and summary sheet. The panel noted that *** is described as diligent and conscientious. They also took into consideration the Educational Psychologist's report, and the fact that ***'s grandfather died in July.
Why the Independent Appeal Panel came to the decision it did
The IAP noted with care the supportive evidence provided by you. However, the panel did not feel that it was strong enough that it could be satisfied that *** is academically suitable for grammar school.
What will happen next
On or about 1st March your Local Education Authority will write to let you know of the outcome of your secondary school application. This application will take into account the result of your child's selection appeal and the ranking of your child's preferences as well as the published over-subscription rules. The IAP is aware that you will be disappointed by its decision but wishes *** every success in the future.
Clerk to the Independent Appeal Panel
Copy: The Admissions Team
Putting the outcome to one side - not an easy thing to do! - the parents thought this was a well written letter, clearly set out. They were least happy with the short paragraph "Why the Independent Appeal Panel came to the decision it did
" - but that's the difficult bit!