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PostPosted: Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:17 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:33 pm
Posts: 3
Hi All,

Long post alert!!

I have read many posts on the forum and I feel that I have benefited from the advice and guidance here, therefore I wanted to share my story for others. Not sure if it will help others but here goes……
As you can tell from my user name, I am a parent of twin boys who sat the Birmingham and Walsall entrance exams in 2020 for admission in September 2021. My boys did well considering the pandemic and lockdown. Twin 1 scored 335 for QM and Twin 2 scored 324. For Birmingham T1 scored 227 and T2 224 We were surprised with Twin 2’s marks as he has always been an academic high achiever and we thought he would surpass his twin.

Our preference was for both to attend Queen Marys Grammar School as it closer to where we live and second choice was Bishop’s Vesey. On allocation day T1 was offered QM and T2 was offered BV, we were happy that both secured grammar school places but a little disappointed that both were not allocated QM.

Following a couple of emails to QM admissions, we decided to submit an appeal for T2 as we felt that he had exceeded the qualifying score for admissions of 295 and also had a twin that had been allocated a place at the school. I was fully aware that there was the school has no preference criteria for siblings or twins/multiple births. QM did inform me that out of 123 appeals in the last 5 years only 6 had been successful which included one twin appeal. This helped raise an inkling of hope, but I was fully aware that appeals to QM and the Birmingham consortia are notoriously hard to win.
I submitted my appeal on the fact that my son did have the academic ability to join QM having met the qualifying score and scoring the same as the last boy that was admitted in the current academic cohort. I submitted school reports for the last couple of years and certificates where he represented the school in maths competitions and won. His primary school Head teacher refused to provide a letter of support highlighting his academic ability as she felt it would have no bearing on the appeal and would not be considered. His year group teacher followed the head’s instructions and did not offer any letter of support (my frustrations with the primary school is another matter!) I also mentioned that his twin had been offered a place.

I also contacted Ricky74 as I had read that he had a similar experience with his twins for some advice and he provided with some positive words of encouragement – thanks Ricky!
Appeal took place via teams, we all had reasonable good connection and it worked well. The appeal itself, started with an explanation of what would happen, the school would put its case, questions could be asked, I would put my case, questions would be asked and then the panel would consider its decision.

School’s case was that my son had not met the entry requirements, as he had not scored high enough. I asked a few questions regarding the pupil premium places who would have scored lower and offered places, I think they said 44 places had been offered to boys scoring from 295 to 333 (that was the score of the last non-pp place offered). Head was not able to say how many pp boys had scored over 333. I asked about cut off scores, movement on waiting lists aswell. The panel had standard questions which seemed like they asked at every appeal, PAN numbers, if they had ever recruited over PAN which they said no.

In my case, I spoke about my son’s academic ability, highlighting his achievements, his reports where he has been achieving higher than expected in a primary school of 90+ children. I also mentioned he was a twin and the bond that twins share, linked it to studies from Twins Trust. The support that they could provide to each other by being at the same school. I highlighted that QM is part of the Mercian Trust which promotes unity through bonds, what could be stronger than twin bonds?! Also the other schools that are part of the Trust had a policy of exceeding PAN to admit twins/multiple birth children. I followed this up with some research I had conducted of a number of selective grammar schools who also had a similar policy – exceeding PAN to admit twin/multiple birth children if they had reached the qualifying score and one was offered a place and the other hadn’t. The Head did say he would look at this in detail as I did say that they should consider this in future admissions policy.
Questions the panel asked were:
· If they were born at full term would they have been in the next academic year, which the answer was no (I had made reference to him being a premature twin).
· If any other factors impacted on T2’s performance (I mentioned the pandemic and how he had suffered more than his twin). What impact admitting over PAN would have on the other children? In hindsight I don’t think I had the opportunity to answer this fully as the panel member mentioned his twin would be happy. I did mention that if they admitted over PAN now, with the movements in the waiting lists they wouldn’t have to remain over PAN as some boys would decline their offers.
· If the twin thing had been an issue before and the school did mention that they had twins in school. In hindsight I should have asked how were allocated places straight away and how many had to wait for places from the waiting list and how many appeals had there been from twin parents.

Panel asked if I had the opportunity to say all I wanted, to which I said yes as I felt did. I felt relieved following the appeal.

We didn’t have along to wait, on the third day an email appeared in my in-box and nervously I opened it…………….. bad news appeal was unsuccessful. We were disappointed as we felt we had put together a good case.

I realise that that for QM that the appeals process is just that….. a process that they go through the motions and nothing more, they have to do it and they do and everyone is more than likely to be a no! It’s not like the appeals process that you hear about in Kent or in other places. But as a parent we feel that we need to try everything and I too did the same for my son.

My advice is to forget any information that you may have collated about the school before the appeal and ask the same questions during the appeal itself. I was aware there was a successful twin appeal but did not mention this in front of the panel members. Also I would have liked to ask the panel members how long they have been presiding over appeal hearings for QM and if it had been over a period of time are they really objective or do they just follow what they have done every year?

Anyway that could have been the end of that but what I now want is change! Change to the admissions policy. I feel as a parent of twins, the challenges that arise from having 2 or even more children going through the 11+ process at the same time is not fully understood. The biggest challenge is of time and the support that you can provide, you are not able to give solely to one child, you have to share it with both to support them through the process. My twins see the world as ‘them’ not I and it’s a shame that having met the qualifying score and a few marks difference is separating them into 2 different directions. I would not have gone through the appeals process if they were siblings but feel there should be something in the admissions policy to acknowledge twin and multiple birth children.
I have raised this issue with the Education and Skills Councillor for Walsall Council who has in turn spoken to the Head at QM. I have been informed that it will be something that will be discussed at the Governors meeting in November 2021. I intend on keeping a careful eye on this and will do what I can to help bring this change. It won’t benefit me but it’s not about me or my boys but about parents of other twin and multiple birth families. Even if they don’t admit twins/multiple births if they both qualify, they should look to rank them higher up on the waiting list. There are a few options to consider and reviewing of data to look at how many twin/multiple birth applications there are each year to see how many this could impact upon.

We are fortunate that T2 does have a place at BV and we are thankful for that. He is still on the waiting list for QM so will see how much more movement there is over the next few weeks. Just to add T2 does prefer QM over BV but has accepted that he will be going BV.

That’s our story so far…. I hope it helps other parents


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 28, 2021 8:46 pm 
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Joined: Sun Mar 17, 2019 8:56 am
Posts: 209
Hi Twinmomna.

I’m sorry to hear that the appeal was not successful. I’m a mum of twins too, so I completely ‘get’ the twin thing. My 2 have just finished year 7 at separate schools. I was anxious about how they would find being separated but to be honest it has been the best thing. They are no longer ‘the twins’. For the first time in their lives they are seen as separate beings. Twin 2 is more academic so twin 1 has always been in the shadow of his sibling. It’s been great to see Twin 1 grow in confidence and flourish.

I wish your twins all the very best for the future, whether together or apart

Nella


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 29, 2021 12:13 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:27 pm
Posts: 287
Also a mum of twins here so I do understand your frustration, but equally, I think I'd feel cheesed off if my child missed out on a place because a child with a lower score was offered a place simply on account of having a twin that did well in the test. Why does that mean they're more entitled to a place? I think there is (potentially) a need to consider twins as slightly unusual for admissions at primary school, but by high school, and age 11 (going into Yr 7), I think everyone should be treated the same, whether you're a twin or a singleton.


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