Successful 11 Plus Appeal Interview

We have collated some words of advice from parents who were successful in their appeals in recent years and even included a sample Supporting Letter.

The only thing we’d like to add is that you should not mention anything about your child having been tutored at any stage through the appeals process – not even to say they have improved dramatically as a result of tuition. The panel are looking (idealistically) for students who do not need extra support in order to succeed.

Good Luck. We hope you find this helpful.

PARENT 1

Can anybody appeal?

Technically yes, however, those that do not have the Head Teachers support are unlikely to be successful. The Head teacher completes a ranking of the children sometime early in the autumn term before the children sit their 11+, he also grades the children on their academic potential and their attitude to work. The grades run from 1-5, one being Gods little Angels and 5 children with special needs. Once you pass a grade 3 on either, the head teacher is indicating that your child does not have either the potential or the right attitude for grammar school. This list is submitted to county before the results of the 11+ are known. If the head teachers list proves to be accurate and he is not supporting you, you will need to have very good evidence to show that his assessment of your child is wrong. Also on this sheet are your child’s predicted SATS results for the end of year 6 and the results of any other standardised tests that your child has sat in school. This sheet is supposed to be submitted with your application should you decide to appeal, however, if you decide not to include it, you will be expected to explain why.

What was your 11+ score?

My child scored 118, but your child’s actual score is less important if you have the head teachers support. The head teachers support carries a lot of weight with the appeal panel, unless you can prove that his assessment of your child is inaccurate.

Who do I contact?

The letter you receive with your child’s result on also contains the information you will need on who to contact. In the first instance you are advised to speak to the head teacher, who will advise you whether he/she intends to support you, they will also supply you with the necessary paperwork. This paperwork has to be submitted to county within 14 of the results.

What do I need to prepare?

In the first instance you complete a selection appeal form, the information asked for relates to your child, the school, your address, your availability and the reasons you have for appealing. You are encouraged to submit everything you will use as the basis of your appeal when you submit this form; however, due to the tight timescales you can submit new evidence up to the date of the appeal. The paperwork you submit as evidence is circulated to the members of your appeal panel 7 days before your hearing, so anything submitted after this may not have been considered by the entire panel before your actual hearing.

Results, certificates, other docs etc.

Include anything that you have, that you can use as evidence to show why your child under performed in the exam and anything which demonstrates your child’s academic ability. They will expect you to produce evidence of both, and the weaker your child’s mark the more evidence they will expect to see. They ask you to produce your child’s actual work and originals of any certificates on the day of the appeal, so only submit photocopies of these items when you submit your appeal paperwork. When I say evidence I mean evidence, they will not accept your child was ill unless you can confirm this with a letter from your doctor or the hospital or likewise they will not believe you that your child is really bright just because you say so, they will expect to see letters of support from the teachers, independent standardised assessments, marked work etc.

What was the reason behind your appeal?

They give you examples of the sort of things which could affect a child’s performance in the booklet which they provide as part of the appeals process and these include things like divorce, death in the family, a move from overseas, English not being the child’s first language and medical problems or disabilities.
We put forward the following points as to why our child underperformed in the exams;
The class teacher was absent for large parts of year 5 and the absence was covered by a teaching assistant.
The children did not cover the entire curriculum which should have been covered in year 5
No numeracy or literacy was taught in school from the beginning of May to the end of the summer term
No homework was set for the last 4 months of the school academic year.
The 2 year 6 classes were mixed when they returned to school in September which changed the class dynamics, disrupted the children and broke up friendship groups.
I had to produce evidence to show that all the above had taken place.

The actual appeal itself…

Was it scary?

Yes!!!!! Imagine the worst and then times it by 10!!!!!!! It is very stressful and emotional. The panel are very nice and will try to put you at ease but you are in there fighting for your child.

Who was in the room?

3 members of the panel, plus a representative from the local authority and a legal clerk who takes notes and is there is confirm any points of law.

How many people?

5 people plus ourselves. When you receive your date, you need to start preparing yourselves, your child does not attend, however, if you are unable to make the date that they give you, you can either send a representative or they will make their decision based on the evidence provided in your absence.

What was their role?

The panel will consider your evidence and make a decision on whether your child’s appeal should be successful or not. The panel consists of a chairperson plus 2 others and at least 1 on the panel will have a background in education. They listen to your case and ask questions. The legal clerk takes notes and is there to answer any points of law, but does not have any part in the decision making process, the representative from the local authority is there to put across the argument that your child sat 2 standardised assessments on 2 different days and failed to reach the qualifying score on both occasions therefore your child’s education needs would be best met in an upper school and not a grammar school.

What was the tone of the interview?

It is formal but they try to make you feel at ease.

Did you have to give a presentation?

Yes, you can do this any way you like. They expect you to present your reasons for your child underperforming in both exams and evidence of your child’s academic ability. They are not there to assess your presentation skills but they will be listening to what you say and what evidence you produce. You can just talk or read from a script if you feel more comfortable doing it that way, there are no facilities for a power point presentation.

Did they ask questions? If so, what questions?

Yes they asked lots of questions. They usually prepare these before the appeal hearing and will be based on the information you have provided them with in advance. They will question you on your presentation and the reasons you have put forward. Be prepared to be grilled!!!!!!!!!!!! They will be trying to understand your child and why they underperformed, although some people are asked what type of books their child reads etc the majority of the questions will be about the reasons you have already put forward. They will want to know how your child thought they had done in both papers, how they react to stressful situations, what help you gave to your child to help them deal with the reasons you have put forward, how they reacted to the result and of course they will be looking for evidence to verify everything you say.

Who did the talking – you or your husband or both?

We both did the talking but I don’t think this matters. I think that the person who does all the day to day stuff with the child should be there, as they are more likely to be able to answer the questions.

How long did it last?

About 45min. This is about average but some people are in and out much quicker and some take much longer. They tell you that you should be able to present your case within 15 minutes, however, you can take as long as you feel you need, no-one will stop you.

Did you bring along extra docs on the day or did everything have to be submitted beforehand?

Everything that you want them to consider should be submitted in advance, however, you can bring additional evidence on the day if you feel it necessary. You should bring an additional 5 copies of anything you bring on the day which can be circulated at the beginning of the appeal, if you bring large amounts of additional information on the day the panel may ask for an adjournment so that they can review the additional evidence before the appeal starts.

Anything else you found unexpected or anything you think parents might need to know?

The main advice I would give to any parent is to be as well prepared as you possibly can be. Make sure you know your evidence inside out. They want evidence and facts not” I think “or “maybe”. If your child is not ranked very high by the head teacher then you need to have a reason for this, likewise if the head teacher has awarded your child a 3 or lower for potential or attitude then you need to come up with reasons why this is not an accurate assessment, if it is an accurate assessment then you are unlikely to be successful. They will expect good evidence to explain why your child under performed AND good evidence of your child’s academic ability, only producing evidence for one is not sufficient. Try and be calm, a little emotion is ok, but you don’t want to be an emotional wreck or aggressive. Try to answer questions without waffle, you either know the answer or you don’t. Do not express your own views or opinions unless they relate to your child, you do not know what brief the panel have been given and how their own personnel experiences may influence them one way or the other. You have about 45 minutes to convince 3 strangers that your child should have passed their 11+, you do not get a second chance, and you cannot appeal against their decision, so make sure you use this time effectively to get across the points you want to make. When the appeal is over you will be asked to leave the room while the panel look at your child’s work and the originals of all certificates, the work is then returned to you and your appeal is over. The panel discuss your case and a record of the decision is made. You will receive a letter confirming the outcome of the appeal within 7 days of the hearing.

Finally, I would just like to sum up by saying that if you believe your child should have passed, but didn’t for whatever reason, then you have nothing to loose by appealing apart from some sleep! Overall about 30% of the appeals are successful, the higher the mark the more that get through, the lower the mark the less. Be prepared, have your facts and your evidence and no matter what the outcome you will know you gave it your best shot. I wish you well.

PARENT 2

Here is some useful advice…
– the panel: 3 independent people, plus a person from the LEA and one Legal person.
– they will state what has happened so far and that they feel your child is only suitable for a comprehensive school (don’t take this to heart as they say it to everyone regardless)
– focus on your child’s achievements and abilities: everything that they do in and out of school.
– you must take any further supporting documentation you can. It is worth getting a letter from your child’s teacher as well as some other teachers (perhaps the drama & sports teachers) to support other areas of success. Certificates of any sort and even some copies of work if it shows areas in which they either excel or have shown continuous improvement. You will need to leave these with the panel while you leave the room for a bit, but they will give them back to you before you go home.
– emphasize points such as ‘We are confident that “child’s name” will excel and be a great contributor in The Grammar School environment.’
– they are only really looking for a few areas as reasons for lack of success in the exam: Disabilities / Illness, Emotional upset.
– focus on positives first before excuses.
– so that you are aware, they allocate places each day so it is obviously better the closer to the beginning of the appeals dates you are as there are more places available then. They end in mid-Feb. You will be notified within 48 hours as to whether the appeal has been successful. The panel members are very well trained at not giving anything away on the day.
I hope this helps.

PARENT 3

Regarding appeals: First they need to have the support of the head teacher, then they need to get as many certificates they can possibly get ie to show how talented and creative and sporty the child is. They don’t need all of this. If the child has music certificates, ballet certificates, sport i.e. tag rugby, or football, or tennis any sport really. Any evidence to show they have taken part in the school plays – did they have a good role to play? What the grammar schools look for is an all round student, someone who can be good at things other than academic. The latter helps but if the can prove they are also talented this is very good. If the child has been ill at all during that year like my child, she was very sick with Kidney infections, this should be included. A supporting letter from the parents to the appeals board stating why they think their child should go to grammar school. The head won’t be able to help in any way other than completing the forms stating whether or not the child should or should not go to that school. The parents’ letter should be very precise.

Good Luck with the appeals.

Sample Letter

Full Name
D.O.B. February 1995

Since moving in to Buckinghamshire from Surrey twenty months ago, L has settled into her new school extremely well despite the disadvantage of moving mid stream. She has proven to be not only a leading light in her year group but in the school as a whole.

L is a mature young lady. She has a healthy respect for others and in turn those who meet and work with L return that respect unanimously. L strives to be the best she can whatever the challenge. She shows enterprise and spirit and utilises others around her to achieve the best possible results. Some fine examples of this are:

  • She won the election to be Chairperson for The School Council
  • She created and helped organise the schools ‘S Factor’ talent competition
  • She instigated the opening of a weekly healthy tuck shop.

L also excels in The Performing Arts:

  • She won The ‘S Factor’ competition with her friend performing a duet
  • She is the lead dancer in her local ‘Streetdance’ group
  • She is playing the lead in this years school play.

Whilst mature, L is a very sensitive girl who can, at times, find disruption and change to her routine unsettling. Due to some unavoidable work issues culminating in a fourteen day trip to The U.S., her mother was not able to be around as much as normal. This inevitably led to disruption of the family unit.
L narrowly missed the pass mark of the Bucks 11+ exam by only 3 points. As her parents we believe in L’s undoubted ability and feel strongly that the absence of her mother at this crucial time did affect her performance in the exam.

We are confident that should this appeal be successful, L will excel and be a great contributor in The Grammar School environment.

Your sincerely,

L’s Parent


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