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PostPosted: Fri Jun 21, 2019 6:24 pm 
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Well done.

We want to be satisfied - either from a correctly worded decision letter, or from the clerk's notes - that the panel gave proper consideration to your FCO arguments.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 9:55 pm 
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I’ve now received the clerk’s notes - they are very useful to see. I can now see that the sentence that didn’t make sense was transcribed from the Appellant’s Case section of the decision making form. It’s not grammatical or particularly accurate but it clears up my confusion and there’s definitely no missing page.

What I can see is that our case for the SRP not being FCO is not well reflected in the Appellants Case section - it’s rather mangled with only half the story there. It’s slightly better reflected in the raw notes but still not fully clear and explicit. I’m left unsure whether the panel discussed our arguments but didn’t agree or if they simply ignored / blipped over them. In the Reasons for IAP Decision on the Selection Review, no panel member refers to our specific arguments - though the available space is very small.

So I think what I’ve learnt for next time is to really hammer home the two main arguments we are using so they are understood, even by the clerk. I know it’s already in my written submission but maybe I should assume they haven’t read and remembered.

And I will take your advice, Etienne, and pause after I’ve presented that section and ask if the AA person or the panel want to respond / discuss.

When do the panel make their decision? Is it after all the appeals and they then read the notes to remind them or do they decide immediately after the case had been heard?


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 12:16 am 
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Elsie wrote:
I’ve now received the clerk’s notes - they are very useful to see.
Pleased to hear that. The Bucks Appeals Team really are very good. They could have asked you to put your request in writing, and then taken up to a month to reply.
There are some schools (outside of Bucks) that refuse to co-operate at all - unless pressurised by the Information Commissioner to do so. One Berkshire case we were involved in dragged on for the best part of a year before the school conceded!

Quote:
What I can see is that our case for the SRP not being FCO is not well reflected in the Appellants Case section - it’s rather mangled with only half the story there. It’s slightly better reflected in the raw notes but still not fully clear and explicit. I’m left unsure whether the panel discussed our arguments but didn’t agree or if they simply ignored / blipped over them. In the Reasons for IAP Decision on the Selection Review, no panel member refers to our specific arguments - though the available space is very small.
I wouldn't necessarily expect each panel member to summarise every single argument - it would become too repetitive - but it ought to be clear what view each member took of FCO and why.
Whether it is sufficient for an individual panel member to give a general statement along the lines "I did not find the arguments put forward against FCO persuasive enough" is debatable.
As you say, the space available on the standard form is very small, and if you were to present, say, 3 or 4 arguments, I'm not sure it would be practical for each argument to be commented on in any detail by each panel member.

However, I do think that the chair's summary should fairly reflect all your FCO arguments.
If you believe that the chair's summary has omitted any of your key points, I don't mind having a look at the clerk's notes if you would like me to (in which case I would also need a copy of what your key FCO arguments were in order to compare).

Quote:
And I will take your advice, Etienne, and pause after I’ve presented that section and ask if the AA person or the panel want to respond / discuss.
I would ask the AA representative rather than the panel because it should for the AA to defend FCO.

When you start, I would also make the point that you are raising several issues which you did not feel it would have been appropriate to air at a group meeting because they are specific to your case.

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When do the panel make their decision? Is it after all the appeals and they then read the notes to remind them or do they decide immediately after the case had been heard?
The Appeals Code says that no decisions on any cases can be made until after all the appeals have been heard - but the reason for that is to do with oversubscription. If oversubscription is an issue, and the panel is minded to allow so many appeals that it would cause serious prejudice to the school, it would then be necessary for the panel to compare cases and decide which to let through. By delaying decisions until the very end, it ensures that the later cases are not put at a disadvantage.
On the other hand, FCO and qualification issues do not involve any comparison, so it is probable that the panel could take provisional decisions on these two issues as they go along - so long as they do not officially finalise them until all the appeals are over.

I assume you're wondering whether you might have been disadvantaged by the clerk's notes if the decision on your FCO case was made at a later date? I don't think so.

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 7:03 pm 
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Thanks for your valuable help. Yes indeed Bucks have been extremely efficient in this whole process and I too didn’t expect them to send me the clerk’s notes So easily.

Having seen them, I don’t think the summary does reflect our FCO arguments so it would be most helpful for you to look at the notes. I’ll send them in. Apologies in advance for the separate attachments.

My previous question about when the decision is made was because I thought if the panel had waited a couple of weeks it would then naturally need reminding of the key points - but the key points are not in the summary. I wasn’t sure which paperwork they would look back on. But if the FCO decision is made at the time, then the need to be reminded wouldn’t be an issue.

My main aim with this line of enquiry with all this is to see if I can do better at our next (and last) appeal. I’ve already learnt and got some good tips. If I can get past the FCO that would at least be something.

This has been a long road!


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:33 pm 
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Thanks. I see what you mean - the panel do give their justifications for FCO but without directly addressing the particular points you raised.

Quote:
My main aim with this line of enquiry with all this is to see if I can do better at our next (and last) appeal. I’ve already learnt and got some good tips. If I can get past the FCO that would at least be something.
I suggest for your next appeal that you conclude the first part of your case with a couple of short, specific questions, for example "We would respectfully ask the panel to consider - how could this review have been FCO when it is not clear what criteria were being used? Is it not a requirement that the process should be transparent?"

You could repeat in your summing up at the very end, e.g. "We would ask the panel, please, to decide whether our review could possibly have been FCO without the use of any clear criteria."
In other words, try and make it as difficult as possible for the question to be avoided!

Ultimately, though, it all hinges on how a particular panel interprets 'fair, consistent and objective'.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:35 pm 
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Thanks Etienne, yes I feel my points didn’t resonate at all - they were barely recorded anywhere and weren’t addressed - it’s almost like I didn’t make them. Quite frustrating.

Thank you very much for your thoughts on how to adjust things next time. I really very much appreciate all the help I’ve received from you. I don’t think I can ask anything else now! Just need to prepare as best I can and get though it. Thank you!


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 01, 2019 5:45 pm 
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Well I don’t really have a question but.... I had the stage 1 and asked about ensuring FCO. The panel / AA / head seemed almost affronted! They said there was lots of evidence for them to make their decision. When I pushed the same question they said they were very experienced + used their professional judgment! The panel didn’t seem to see an issue with this and seemed to side with the AA and head. I feel pretty dispirited about our next appeal. I don’t see how the panel are going to be convinced and we’re not going to get beyond the SRP FCO stage.

Also, it was the same AA rep as before which feels uncomfortable.


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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 3:56 pm 
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It's a bit reminiscent of a previous stage one report which we quote in the Bucks sticky:

        Quote:
        Question from parent: "What objective criteria were used?"
        Response by headteacher: "There is no tick list. It's a 'weighing up' of the evidence."
        Question: "Isn't that subjective then?"
        Response: "The information needed is clear."
        Question: "Yes, the form specifies what school results should be given, but it does not set out what thresholds are required?"
        Response: "There is no tick list or list of criteria but a 'weighing up' of the information provided which is different in each case."
        Question: "So it's a subjective judgement?"


Quote:
They said there was lots of evidence for them to make their decision
The issue, of course, is whether the process was 'fair, consistent and objective' - not the quantity of evidence! :roll:


Quote:
they said they were very experienced + used their professional judgment!
No one doubts their professionalism, but "You can trust us - we're the professionals" sounds like a defence of SRP decisions rather than evidence that the process was fair and consistent and objective.


Quote:
The panel didn’t seem to see an issue with this and seemed to side with the AA and head.
This is concerning. Do you happen to recall what words were used, or the gist of the exchanges (as in the report quoted above)? If so, please let us know, either here or via the appeals box - but don't worry if you can't remember.

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PostPosted: Tue Jul 02, 2019 10:39 pm 
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It was rather like the previous exchange. I will send I what I can remember of the conversation though it’s a bit of a blur as I’m not a confrontational person and it was out of my comfort zone to be challenging AAs and headtachers!

My impression when I left was that the accepted default is the SRP is FCO - unless something very untoward can be shown. And therefore there is very little chance of convincing otherwise. It felt as if I was challenging a fundamental baseline and they were nonplussed that it would even be challenged in the first place. And a little offended maybe?

I think the panel chair joined in on the discussion as well as the head and the Admissions rep.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 12:04 am 
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Quote:
I will send I what I can remember of the conversation though it’s a bit of a blur
Thanks. It looks as if they were making the following points:

1. Criteria not possible because every case is different
      - an admission that the process cannot be objective?

      It is true of course that each case is different, and that judgement will have to be exercised in considering a case as a whole and arriving at a final decision - but this does not justify the lack of underlying criteria.

      They do have one stated criterion - namely, that there should normally be exceptional circumstances (even though we know from cases on here that this is sometimes ignored - so much for consistency!).

      Why do there appear to be no academic guidelines for grammar school suitability?

      Why not state openly that a realistic prediction of 111-120/GDS at KS2 will normally be expected? (It should also be made crystal clear that any sudden jump in standard from Y5 attainment to the KS2 prediction needs explaining.)

      And what is difficult about stating that a standardised alternative test score of "x" will be considered as an indication of grammar school standard? (It can hardly be FCO if different panel members have different ideas about what "x" should be.)

2. Moderation helps with consistency
      - so what criteria do moderators use to ensure that the process is consistent and objective?

3. Lots of training + discussion of many cases
      - one would have hoped that some underlying criteria would have emerged from all these discussions.

4. "You can trust us - we're the professionals" (I paraphrase!)
      - not an argument for FCO.

5. Lots of evidence to look at
      - the issue is not the quantity of evidence, but whether the process was 'fair, consistent and objective'.


Quote:
My impression when I left was that the accepted default is the SRP is FCO - unless something very untoward can be shown. And therefore there is very little chance of convincing otherwise.
We believe that up until now approximately ⅓ - ½ of cases have tended to be not 'fair, consistent & objective'.
As mentioned before, we think that different panel members interpret FCO in different ways, and the basic problem is that the Appeals Code offers little guidance.

Quote:
It felt as if I was challenging a fundamental baseline and they were nonplussed that it would even be challenged in the first place. And a little offended maybe?
Uneasy, I suspect, at being challenged on such a fundamental matter as their evidence for FCO.

Well done to you - and to the member who wrote the previous report - for being brave enough to question the AA's case.

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