Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

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Prism123
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2024 1:42 pm

Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Prism123 »

Hi,

Sadly we received an unsuccessful SR decision. Wondering if we have grounds to appeal. DS is upset, as he loves the school and all his friends seem to have passed even though apparently "less academic" on school metrics. Apologies in advance for this long post - hoping it covers all the important details.

Score was 113. We knew it would be tricky, but thought our academic and extenuating circumstance (EC) evidence was strong. In brief:
- Headteacher recommendation 1.1 (Bucks school) and application supported by teachers. Head apparently not overy-optimistic (so heads says). Very strong statement of support from head saying all DS's teachers were stunned DS didn't pass.
- Consistent, high results:
• Year 4 and 5 top group for Maths and English (at high-performing school)
• Year 4 and 5 prizes for academic performance
• Year 4 CAT average 129 (all elements between 127 and 131)
• Year 5 CAT average: 129 (all elements between 122 and 139)
• Year 4 and Year 5 CAT verbal reasoning score 130 each year (highlighted to panel as this was the worst area in the STT - 111)
• Highest predictions for KS2 of 111-120 (reading and maths) and GDS (writing).

The ECs (prolonged anxiety and insomnia) were substantiated by DS's doctor and headteacher, including before test). The panel said they agreed with the end of Y6 predictions. They also acknowledged the ECs and said they "partially explained the shortfall of marks". The reasons for rejection were:

1. did not qualify in any element of STT and considerable shortfall of marks.
2. the ECs evidence does not demonstrate that the circs set out significantly affected the score.
3. the panel took into account the ECs but did not feel the ECs wholly explained the shortfall.

We are aware we need to deal with FCO first. Initial thoughts on the reasons provided:

On 1 (Did not qualify in any element of STT and considerable shortfall of marks): This is flawed in our view as our argument was that the EC brought down his performance across all elements of the test. Surely if he had performed well in one or two elements then that would have been more of an indication that the ECs were not the root cause of the underperformance?

On 2: (The EC evidence does not demonstrate that the circs set out significantly affected the test score): Slightly baffled. How could any EC evidence "demonstrate that the circumstances significantly affected" the score? This is surely impossible unless the child sits a simultaneous exam where the circs are not present and passes the test. DS's doctor said they thought the ECs affected his mark and DS's headteacher said they noticed the impact and that it could be the only explanation given the otherwise impressive academic profile. What criteria did the panel use to decide the evidence did not demonstrate significant affect on the score if the two experts said it did? Some children pass SR on a score of 113 each year. Were their ECs assessed on the same criteria ours were? If the panel cannot answer this then it seems they cannot prove the decision was FCO?

On 3: (The panel took into account the ECs but did not feel they wholly explained the shortfall): a) The panel accepted the evidence partially explained the shortfall of marks. How is it possible for them to say what shortfall would be appropriate? I think Etienne made a comment elsewhere that Bucks said it was impossible to know in the context of special needs adjustment as every child is different (although can't find this now!) So how can they show they were fair in deciding here that the shortfall is too much? What objective criteria were used? b) We have found a previous case detailed on here which must involve the same headteacher as the support statement was worded almost identically. The academic position of that child was slightly worse (STT score of 112 and CAT averages and other academics a little lower, although close) and the parent said the ECs were minimal. The parent did not submit evidence beyond the headteacher's report but that child had a successful SR! Can we use that as evidence that the panel was not fair and consistent in DS's case? Or is the consistency test only applicable to our case (ie. need to show it was inconsistent in itself)? c) The panel said that the EC evidence was a doctor's letter evidencing consultation for prolonged anxiety and insomnia together with correspondence with the school regarding the issues DS was experiencing. However there is no mention of what the headteacher said about the significant effect the ECs had in the immediate run up to the STT. They only said that the ECs were substantiated by the head. This evidence is crucial to our case that the ECs significantly affected the mark in the STT. The form includes what seems to be a generic statement that "The panel considered all the evidence you provided for both academic and extenuating circs. Where information was included in your parent submission or other academic evidence was included in the headteacher's form then this was read and considered..." Is this enough as it was the evidence of ECs in the headteacher's form we wanted them to note, not only the academic evidence?

Apologies for the essay but it has actually been quite cathartic to write all this down! Thank you for reading and grateful for your valued help.
Moderators
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:45 am

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Moderators »

Welcome to the forum, we are sorry to hear your news. I will move your thread to the Appeals section.
As you will know, the chances of success at review & appeal are very low, but not impossible, on a score of 113. You can see some figures here

You should note that unfortunately the chances of an appeal succeeding following an unsuccessful review are very low, & we suggest you prepare your son for this outcome. Some parents choose not to tell their child that they are going to appeal & instead concentrate on the positives of the school allocated (which you will know on March 1st). According to the Bucks council website
If you choose to appeal, as your child's case went to review, the Independent Appeal Panel (IAP) will first need to decide whether the Selection Review Process was 'fair, consistent and objective'.
It is only if the IAP agrees that it was not, that they will then be able to consider the rest of the case you make for admission to the particular grammar school.
Last year they decided that of the 106 grammar appeals heard where they had been to selection review, only 2 appeals were successful.
and
14% of appeals were successful last year. 86% were unsuccessful.
Most appeals fail because the schools are already full. They do not have the resources to admit extra children, without harming the existing pupils' education.
Or, in grammar school appeals for unqualified children, there is not sufficient evidence that the child is of the required academic standards.
Think carefully about making an appeal. Appeals are time-consuming, stressful for parents and expensive for schools.
We are aware we need to deal with FCO first. Initial thoughts on the reasons provided:
This is very tricky as it is very subjective. according to the Bucks council website:
At your appeal, the Appeal Panel must decide if the Selection Review was carried out in a fair, consistent and objective way.
“Fair, consistent and objective” are not defined. Their ordinary meaning applies.
• In 2013 Sally-Anne ( a much-missed forum Moderator and appeals expert) summed up the situation very well:
"It's also worth saying that panel members are very independent-minded - so much so that different panels could come to completely different conclusions about 'fair, consistent and objective'. That has happened in other areas of the country in the past.
The wording in the Appeals Code about "fair, consistent & objective" is pretty minimal and open to interpretation by individual Independent Appeal Panels."
Have you read this section? This will be updated for 2024 shortly, but the information will not change (other than the dates). The relevant section is Section D. Please note the following advice:
(ii) It is important to distinguish between 'judgement' and 'process'. You cannot challenge the review panel's judgement - but you can question whether the process was flawed. If an appeal panel decides that your review was not 'fair, consistent & objective', it is then free to take a completely fresh look at your case for academic suitability.

(iii) When raising concerns, ultimately what matters is how the review process was applied in your particular case.

(iv) We suspect many parents will be arguing that without clear, objective criteria, no one can actually tell whether their particular review was 'fair, consistent & objective'.
In addition, if there are any omissions, inaccuracies or contradictions in the clerk's notes, such errors could cast doubt on the process.[/list][/list]
You should also study this section on the Buckinghamshire Council website. Again, this will be updated for this year around March 1st.
Also have a look at our FAQs regarding appeals, in particular B53.

Good luck & please let us know how you get on.
hermanmunster
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Location: The Seaside

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by hermanmunster »

@Prism123 - have you sent for the Clerk's notes?
Prism123
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2024 1:42 pm

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Prism123 »

Hi,

No I have not done this - I was under the impression that I would have to wait for the school allocations as I cannot appeal until then. But let me know if that is not correct.

On the topic of the almost identical SR case that we have found on here, is it possible for us to be put in touch with that parent (obviously only if they consent) as I would like to ask if we can include their paperwork in our appeal as evidence of the inconsistency of our result? I expect that if I just refer to a case summarised on here that the panel will think (quite rightly) that the facts may not be complete or accurate and so it will not influence them as much as if they see the actual paperwork. I am not sure whether I should be disclosing which case it is openly on this forum in case we identify the school/headteacher.

Thanks very much as ever! Prism123.
Aethel
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Joined: Sun Dec 20, 2015 6:24 pm

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Aethel »

prism, if you scroll to the top of the forum there is a section called “private messages” (PMs): you can contact the user directly by sending a PM.
Moderators
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:45 am

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Moderators »

We really don't think this would help your case at all. By all means pm the previous poster, but we don't think it would be looked up on very well by the appeal panel & it would not be appropriate to use someone else's paperwork - that is to do with their appeal, not yours.
Remember you are advised not to criticise the process, which is what this would be doing.
Different review &/or appeal panels will come up with different views, it's the nature of a process such as this.
Focus on your case. After all, you don't know all the details of the other case.
You are right, you may well not be able to request the paperwork until you actually start preparing an appeal (it may say in your letter?).
Prism123
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2024 1:42 pm

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Prism123 »

Thanks. We appreciate any input, positive or negative. The question for us, when considering the "C" in FCO, was what does the decision need to be consistent with? An important part of our decision to go for SR and not straight to appeal was the knowledge that another child in the same boat (and we really do mean that the HT statement was identical) got through. It seems your view is that we can only challenge a lack of consistency within our DS's own process? That would be hard as the comments are so minimal. Possibly there could be something in the clerk's notes.
Moderators
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:45 am

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Moderators »

Would you mind letting us know (by private message) which poster you are referring to?
It really is a very frustrating system!
Prism123
Posts: 4
Joined: Tue Feb 20, 2024 1:42 pm

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Prism123 »

Thanks - have sent the details via private message.
Moderators
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Jul 04, 2014 11:45 am

Re: Unsuccessful Selection Review Bucks - advice grateful received

Post by Moderators »

Hi Prism123

Thanks for the PM re the selection review you noted as being similar to your own. I suspect that you have, to some extent, answered your own question - in that the extenuating circumstances were significant and immediate in this case and the review panel maybe felt that this accounted for a sudden drop in the score?

It is for this sort of reason that comparing cases is not a good idea as no-one has all the facts to hand and no two cases are ever really the same


Re extenuating circumstances - looking at the FAQ, (B10) it is possible that short term, acute events that have a sudden impact on the exam day may have more likelihood of explaining a lower than expected score that ongoing events, particularly if the school work was not apparently affected

Example A: The night before the test father was taken into hospital, everybody was stressed, nobody got much sleep. There is a letter from hospital confirming what happened, and a letter from the primary headteacher about the impact on the child in school. On the balance of probabilities it would be reasonable to conclude that the score was affected.

Compare this with:

Example B: Grandmother far away in Scotland fell seriously ill 9 months ago, and has been in hospital ever since. However, subsequent school reports indicate no dip in performance: the child is doing very well indeed and is predicted ‘greater depth’ at KS2. It might be reasonable to assume that the 11+ score was not affected.

Where there is an ongoing problem, or a series of incidents, a panel might reasonably expect some evidence that school work was also affected at the time in question (for example, a dip in performance, or unexpectedly erratic work).


However In attempting to prove that the review was not FCO you may be able to question how the extenuating circumstances were assessed and evaluated. As one of our experts said "FCO is a very vague concept"

Probably worth having a good looking at section D4 https://www.elevenplusexams.co.uk/forum ... hp?t=64249 which has some thoughts about consistency
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