11 Plus Appeals.
With so much competition for places and so much effort being put in to attain places it is no surprise that disappointment with the result sometimes leads to an appeal.
What we’ll do here is help you to understand the basics of what might be grounds for an appeal and what may not be and then direct you to a couple of specialist publications on the subject which will really help those who want to take things forward to an appeal.
Reasons to be careful about getting into an 11 Plus appeal frame of mind
It is not unusual for parents and children to feel disappointed if their application was not successful but remember what an enormous amount of progress your child would have made and remember that you want them to feel positive and happy about their future. So if you are going to go forwards to an appeal we’d strongly suggest you do so without it being absolutely in front of your child. Allow them to feel proud of getting so far and allow them to feel positive about the school they will be going to. Letting them feel like it is somehow second best can be a difficult situation to get over.
Remember that the vast majority of appeals are not successful. Think about this carefully as an appeal takes a lot of time and energy to put together.
Possible Reasons for an 11 Plus appeal
Non-Qualification- In other words children didn’t score highly enough in the test
Child deserves a place , they are really bright. Carries little weight with appeal boards on its own. Might be a supporting reason but will need a strong statement of support from the school you are at signed by the headmaster, strong evidence in the form of predicted SATS results, strong evidence in the form of examples of current work.
Child was performing much better in tests at home. Unlikely to be anything other than of minor support. Tests on the day can be more difficult than those available commercially, and nerves can play a part. In fact every child is in the same boat and many if not the majority perform less well on the day than they have in practice.
General disruption in the exam room- people going to the loo , asking questions. Unlikely to carry any weight , it would have been the same for everyone and is just part of life when taking an exam. Boards will certainly not accept this as a major point, although if it has happened and has been documented by the invigilator then it might be worth just adding to the list of support points.
Specific disruption in the exam room. Child in front or behind child crying or having a tantrum or being sick or wetting themselves. These things are unfortunately quite a frequent occurrence such is the pressure the 11 Plus creates. Obviously the disruption is on a higher level than general disruption. In these cases though exam boards view the disruption to be transitory ( only lasting a short while) so they are unlikely to view this as an influencing factor where the gap between acceptance and rejection is great EG 5% +. Where the difference is very close then depending on the scale and duration of the disruption this may be an influencing element.
Outside influencing factors for an 11 Plus appeal
Child ill the night before/ not at his best. Of course this may well be a reason for underperformance on the day but is it ever really going to carry much weight? Like many of the other numerous reasons for any child not making the cut off point this argument is only likely going to be of very minor significance. The reason for that is that most schools have arrangements for tests to be taken on alternative days and so would argue that if you didn’t think your child was up to it then you should have taken advantage of that provision. Where schools have not made provision for an extra day then this argument may carry more weight. Where the illness flamed up before the first day and carried through to the next then there may be more weight to this argument. It would be very rare though for this to carry the day by itself and it would certainly need to be supported by a doctor’s letter.
Child recovering from illness lasting a long while. This perhaps will carry some weight in an appeal but will need very strong support from the school and a great deal of medical documentary support. It’s on a case by case basis and obviously the grammar school would need to be sure that a child has caught up and won’t be continued to be held back by their illness- this is often not the case with long term illness. Thinking about it sensibly there’s little point in putting a child who because of illness is way behind their peers and likely to struggle into a high performance environment as it won’t be good for them or the school. It certainly would be a difficult decision to accept a child who was way behind due to a long standing illness and likely to stay way behind due to that illness continuing.
Recent injury/death of a close family member. This has tended to carry weight in arguments but again will not be enough on its own. It will need very strong support from the school accompanied by a very well documented case.
Administrative failure or fault in 11 Plus appeals
This is perhaps the most common reason for success in 11 Plus appeals
There will be times where schools have wrongly applied their own catchment rules to cases and this has resulted in a child being refused where they should have been accepted. These rules can be quite complicated so it is a difficult and detailed process to put together an appeal on this basis but if proven presents strong grounds for appeal.
Non-Application of policies relating to siblings or non-application of policies relating to disability or children in care.
Most if not all schools have specific policies in these and other specific entry criteria. Where schools have not applied their own published policies properly then again this can be used as grounds for appeal.
Fuller information on 11 Plus appeals
The reality is that where children are in full provision systems ( such as Bucks and Kent) are very close to the cut off perhaps have extenuating circumstances and very strong school and evidentiary support then there is a chance of success ( In Bucks and Kent the evidence suggests that perhaps 40% of such cases are successful where results are extremely close to the cut off point).
However in other areas without full provision the rules are applied perhaps a little more firmly and those who miss the cut off by a mark will perhaps not to be successful regardless of extenuating circumstances.
For more information we suggest initially that you buy and read the following book on the subject. It is the only book of its type that we are aware of and will in many cases help to shed light on the outstanding questions parents have. We’d strongly suggest reading it before embarking on an appeal