Is it worth comparing my ds to the boy I know who passed? I just read in some threads that comparisons count for something.
Not sure that they do! An appeal panel will have no hard evidence about third parties (and the Data Protection Act would prohibit them from doing so), so I don't see how they can make any sort of judgement when the facts cannot be substantiated.
I imagine I will receive forms which will guide me further?
You may need to take the initiative and ask (make sure you don't miss the deadline). Some authorities provide helpful information packs, others offer not much more than a form to fill in!
will I need to say he sat other test in the area and failed? (this will obviously not look good!)
No need to mention it, as far as I can see.
is the lack of tutoring worth mentioning given they said at the open day not to tutor?
You can try, but most appeal panels wouldn't take lack of tutoring into account!
the circumstances I was refering to that made me wonder if he did not do his best was his father had to go overseas at short notice the week before christmas and returned on the eve of his test at the beginning of Jan, therefore a late night and over excitement after 3 weeks of being unsettled!
It's certainly worth a mention. Difficult to say whether it would carry much weight. You don't sound too sure yourself ("It made me wonder whether ......").
Hope this helps.