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 Post subject: 6th Form Offer - Appeal
PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 11:02 am 
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Hope this is the right forum for this question.

6th form offers are made on the basis of predicted grades and each school has it's own entry criteria. Some schools have their own entry tests for specific subjects.

If a school does not make an offer to a child, I understand there is a clear appeals process to follow.

However, if a school does not offer a particular subject, due to their entry test, then what can be done? There is nothing to "appeal", as the school has made an offer on alternate subjects. And the whole entry test criteria seems to be very opaque, with no way to know on what basis they came to their conclusion.

Anyone have any insight?


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 11:41 am 
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I'm not quite sure I understand your question?

Are you saying that your DC has not studied a subject that the 6th form require? And how is this linked to an entry test if they are offering on predicted grades?

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 11:58 am 
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Sorry, I'll explain better.

DD wants to study Maths A-Level, for which there is an entry test (for both internal and external students). Her predicted grades are sufficient, based on their criteria, but the she's been told she did not "pass" the entry test required for Maths. There's no information on what the "pass mark" was or what she achieved. There's also no information on whether internal and external students are considered equally for the entry test (i.e. is the "pass mark" lower for internal students?).

She was asked to choose an alternative subject and was made a conditional offer. She's also been told that should her actual Maths GCSE result be higher than her predicted grade they may reconsider her for Maths.

Other than asking the school on results day to reconsider, is there any other formal appeal process? Or is it down to schools to decide which individual subjects a child is suitable for?


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 12:03 pm 
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A long time ago I worked in admissions at a 6th form college, my comments, therefore, may be out of date, as such I'm talking in the past tense, but hopefully something in here may help. (sorry it's so long, I wanted to get it all in as I'm not sure what may be the most helpful!)

You're right, the sixth form could offer a place to a student, but that didn't guarantee that the student could study the subjects of their choosing. Each sixth form set it's own entry requirements for each subject - some colleges were more flexible than others and some had higher requirements than others. For most subjects at the college I worked at, those requirements were grades at GCSE in relevant subjects. For others, particularly the arts, there was a test or portfolio submission element. We had a process for appeal, but this was obviously internal.

Essentially, the student needed to appeal against the decision, and in very much the same way as other appeals, show why they were qualified - showing reasons for poorer than anticipated performance on the test day, and evidence of ability in the desired subject. We didn't have any external component to the appeal, but we did have quite clear guidelines for each of the relevant subjects of what standards were required and what evidence would be accepted. Unfortunately, similar to universities and grammar schools, some subjects were over-subscribed, and as such, the decision was often made that although the student was qualified, they weren't as highly qualified as other students. As such, the student didn't just have to prove that they met the requirements for the course, but that they were better than some of those who had already been offered a place, and that the subject could cope with the extra bodies in the classroom.

Because of this, many students who were desperate to study one of the subjects that was traditionally over-subscribed held on to places at two or even three sixth forms until they received their results both of GCSE's and the subject tests and then made their final decision. If that is an option for you, please can DC notify the unsuccessful sixth forms ASAP once they have made a decision in order to allow other students to have a chance at their preferred subjects.

We dealt with many appeals - from DC who wanted to study science subjects, but were unable to reach the grade C in GCSE English, to those who wanted to be performers, but had struggled on the test day, to those who had studied abroad and didn't realise that the qualifications that they had received at 16 were not equivalent to GCSE standard. For all of these the advice was the same - bring academic evidence, and lots of it and evidence any reasons for poor performance on the test day - recommendations from school-teachers, music tutors etc, etc. You may be able to get a copy of test results to help.

Essentially, my suggestion is that appeals do happen for subjects, but they can be relatively hard to win, and there was no external body to appeal to. My advice would be to contact the admissions office of the sixth form and see whether they have a process to go through, or whether it's a case of requesting a sit-down discussion with admissions and the subject lead to determine how things can be progressed. From my experience, most in the area want the best for the DC's and will try to achieve it.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 12:15 pm 
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Thank you, this is useful. Essentially, as I had thought, that it is down to the schools admissions team to ultimately decide on which subjects a child can study based on their own (often undisclosed) criteria.

It seems to me that for oversubscribed subjects, the schools can essentially cherry pick the students with the highest predicted grades and reject everyone else under the guise of "failing the entry test" - even though, that may not have been the deciding factor.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 12:51 pm 
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Tbh, such is the nature of A level Maths now, that even those with a grade 8 / 9 at GCSE won't necessarily find it plain sailing. (DS2 got a 9 and A* in FM and has still had his moments with the A level and will be very happy if he come out with a TAG of B, for instance). However, the school has given your DD the chance of reconsideration if she does do well enough in the GCSE, so I would leave it at that, personally.

Have you / has she actually asked for more information with regard to the exam?

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 1:04 pm 
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I did ask if the result could be reconsidered but was told that it'd be up to the head of maths to decide on this once the GCSE result is known.

I'm not sure how this would work in practice - results day is mayhem and to try and have a conversation on this on the day (without jeopardising a place at another school) will be extremely difficult. I guess we'll have to wait and see.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 1:11 pm 
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As I say, things may have changed, but yes, as for the super selective grammars there can be many more qualifying students for some subjects than there are places available. For us, theatre studies and dance were the main issues. We would have loved to have taken more students, but physically didn't have the teaching or studio time available for all those who met the minimum requirement. I seem to recall that we had about 250 qualifying students on average for about 75 places. We were very careful with the phrasing of the rejection response as only those who had met the requirements were even able to do the test.

It also helped the appeal if evidence could be provided that the subject was essential for the students desired career path. NB be careful with this; we had a parent try to convince us that DC had wanted to be a Dr all their life and that's why they should be allowed to study chemistry despite having weak maths. When we looked at their application form, medicine hadn't been mentioned in the 3 possible options for desired career and nor had any other careers for which chemistry was desirable.

We gave out anonymised test results so that people could see how far down the pack they were and any comments made by the assessors. You may be able to get hold of the same. Our processes were transparent and I suspect that most are, so do ask for information, it may help you, or it may give clarity.

I'm not sure how the decision of who gets to study a subject could be made differently. We did ponder for a short time whether we should do it by distance from the college, such that the closest qualified students would get to study the subject and those who had to travel further would not (we had basically no academic requirements for the college itself, just for the subjects, so distance was our main offer criterion for the college itself. If you have any ideas I'm sure those in admissions at colleges and universities would appreciate hearing them; it's definitely not nice to turn down a qualified student whatever the reason.

Yes, results day really is mayhem, but a good admissions team will manage it; they do it every year. Once you get the results contact the college and request a meeting with the head of maths. They happen every year and the staff are expecting them. That said, please don't expect to get through on the first try! NB - we didn't hold any of those meetings on results day, or even the following day, but my calendar was pretty much booked out for the couple of weeks after that with appeal meetings. We also didn't have internal vs external students, but with most colleges wanting to improve their grades & Oxbridge entries etc, I doubt many will care. if you want to put your mind at ease though, you could maybe go down the FOI route - what proportion of the DC who got a place on the course were internal and compare that to the proportion of internal students on the 6th form roll? Obviously though, there could be other factors than just preferring internal students - I'm assuming that DC wants to do maths there because they have strong results? If so, that could easily be due to better teaching at GCSE, leading to more highly qualified applicants at the test stage.

Another NB - having this meeting with one college won't jeopardise the application elsewhere - as I say, those meetings don't happen on the day, and they take probably a couple of hours over 2 weeks for each of the colleges for which you would like to appeal. We never had an issue reorganising (within reason) around other commitments, and the colleges don't have time to gossip between themselves comparing notes of who's appealing etc.


Last edited by 2Socks on Wed May 26, 2021 1:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 1:21 pm 
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Many thanks for taking the time to write this up. I'll definitely try.


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PostPosted: Wed May 26, 2021 9:19 pm 
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Has your DD applied anywhere else which would accept just the predicted GCSE grade for Maths, as well as the other subjects she wants to take?

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