Yet another question for admissions people, pretty please.

(26 Posts)
IDK Wed 28-Nov-12 11:48:45

DS is quite bright but didn't do himself justice at GCSE.
Ditto at AS Level
I got him assessed and it turns out that he has a learning difficulty, hence the above.

We are now in Y13, doing UCAS. He will tick the box to say that he has a LD. His Hof6 has said that he will mention it in his reference.

I would like someone to contact the Universities' Admissions to say that DS's results to date shouldn't be fed into a number-crunching formula and that they should be read in the context of his undiagnosed LD. I would also like them to consider making his offer at the lower end of the scale, again because half of the A Level (the AS) was taken with the ULD.

I don't trust the Hof6 to do this - the school have not been very helpful so far - and fear that he will not make the case properly. What is the best way to do this? Can I e-mail, or is that pathetic and DS should do it? Are there any buzz words or key phrases to use - we are new to all this!

IDK Thu 15-Aug-13 10:25:29

DS was down a grade in one subject, but up in another, and was worried about how admissions would see this. Luckily, they still want him so he is off to his first choice.grin
Many thanks to all for your help.flowers

TheCollieDog Sat 01-Dec-12 09:53:40

Hi IDK -- if it's a letter from the ed Psych or other professional, that's obviously fine. But it really should come via the school. From your OP it seemed that you were asking about a letter from a parent.

It may sound to you as though we're dismissing parental knowledge, but really, we can only take note of professional, expert opinion.

And I really think you need to pressure the school to do this. Good luck!

IDK Fri 30-Nov-12 22:54:35

I totally understand what you are saying TCD.
The letter would merely suggest that the pre-assessment exam results should be viewed in context, and their knock-on effect to the final A Level grade taken into account. I can enclose a copy of the SpLD's report since I have the original because I had to commission it myself when the school kept inisting that he hadn't got a LD

And academics have to make judgements which are fair, transparent, and evidence-based.
But you are assuming that the schools give you all the evidence. What is their motivation to fess up and admit that their systems are not up to scratch & they didn't spot the LD?

TheCollieDog Fri 30-Nov-12 21:16:14

IDK, as creamteas says, a letter needs verification. I can understand your frustration with the school, but a "parent's perspective" is not actually relevant to a candidate's application.

Of course, you know your child and what s/he's been through, but a letter stating this from a parent isn't authoritative in this context. I'm not casting aspersions on you personally, but a parent could say anything! It's not exactly objective, nor authoritative. Whereas a GP's letter, an ed psych's letter, an additional letter from the school -- these people are talking from their professional expertise & position.

And academics have to make judgements which are fair, transparent, and evidence-based.

creamteas Fri 30-Nov-12 19:11:15

As an admissions tutor, I would not ignore a letter from any candidates (we can't consider anything from parents without written permission from candidates), but have to ask for verification otherwise we would not be able to tell the genuine cases from any lies less than truthful.

But the evidence does not have to come from the school. I would accept any professional report (ed psych, GP, SALT etc).

Student's need a post 16 from Report from one of these in order to access extra support at uni (such as extra time in exams), so this would be necessary regardless of the school's position.

IDK Fri 30-Nov-12 10:32:56

Actually, I suppose that you answered it for your institution with "My current place has very intensive 2 day admissions visits, and we get a pretty good look at candidates from a number of different points of view." It looks like DS isn't the only one with processing problems! blush However a lot of places aren't as rigorous.

Good point about the ABB student, I keep forgetting it.

IDK Fri 30-Nov-12 10:16:53

But a letter from a parent? Not so much, and as I said, I don't think I would be able to take that as having the same authority as a school or ed. psych report or statement.

I know that you must be fed up with helicopter parents but have you thought about it from our perspective?
If a school is supportive then they would have spotted this years ago, done something about it, written an explanatory reference, etc, etc.
If a school is not supportive then they would do none of this, but if a parent tries to transcend the malfunction in the system then they are disregarded as a helicopter.

How does this reliance on schools doing the right thing square with attempts at widening access? (Not having a go at you, genuine question.)

TheCollieDog Fri 30-Nov-12 09:01:27

That sounds very sensible. Prediction of 3 As is not bad going understatement

I would still keep pushing for a letter from the school. I've dealt with loads of UCAS forms which have those sorts of attachments from the school but sometimes incorporating brief ed psych statements etc. But a letter from a parent? Not so much, and as I said, I don't think I would be able to take that as having the same authority as a school or ed. psych report or statement.

And, depending very much on institution and course, if a department has seen a candidate (interview, Open Day, workshop etc) then they may still keep the offer open even if your DS doesn't quite make the grades, if they think that he will thrive and is a good fit. My current place has very intensive 2 day admissions visits, and we get a pretty good look at candidates from a number of different points of view.

Also, the current policies on universities may work in your DS' favour. It will be a bun rush next year: universities can recruit over quota any student with ABB or better. So if he makes ABB he will find universities may be interested in him.

Of course, we still have to think about how we teach them, or even how we fit them all in ...

I'm not supposed to say what I think about current HE dog's breakfast policy, as a national, long-term sustainable way to run the university sector. But in your DS's case, it may be advantageous for him.

Good luck to him, and I hope the input he's getting now helps him to develop strategies to deal with the LD -- because eventually, he's going to have to fid ways to deal with it. BUt I was at a do at the VC's the other day & chatting to one of the DIsabilities Officers over the orange juice and weird hors d'ouevres, as one does, and she was saying that students with LDs who really took responsibility for developing strategies to "overcome" them often did really well at university -- often better than their non-LD peers.

IDK Fri 30-Nov-12 08:23:24

Right. Thanks for all your help. I have made a decision, thoughts please:

1. Get a grip. DS is predicted AAA, even if I am not sure he will make it.

2. There are plenty of good candidates out there, with and without LD, who don't get the offer of their dreams. We will flag up what we can on the UCAS form and then take a que sera, sera attitude

3. If DS gets offers then at a point after pushing the button to create CI/CF but before results /clearing, we shall contact Admissions at those two Universities to make them aware of Exceptional Circumstances i.e. get our excuses in early.

Does this sound good to you?

creamteas Thu 29-Nov-12 22:21:54

Not all unis have a central admissions team who deal with things, mine doesn't. A quick phone call can help make sure you can find the right person to contact

TheCollieDog Thu 29-Nov-12 14:49:06

Indicate the disability on the UCAS form.

What others have suggested re the notification coming from the School is really really the best (only) way. The sentence suggested upthread is ideal and would be very useful to me as an academic trying to make an evaluation of an applicant's ability to do well in my course:
Due to very late diagnosis of xx, for which 25% extra time will now be given in exams, I feel Tarquin's GCSE and AS results do not reflect his true ability, and that had this support been in place when he took his ASs I would be predicting A2 results of A A* A, instead of AAB*

As an academic within a university department, if I received a letter from a parent, but nothing from the school in the school reference, or as additional documentation, I'm afraid my first response would be to discount it. Because, well ... it's coming from a very non-objective and non-expert source, I'm afraid!

However, fair admissions codes would mean that I'd probably refer it back to our University admissions office, for their clarification. They'd contact the school, I imagine, not the parent -- or they might contact the educational psychologist who has diagnosed the disability. .

I hope you understand that within Departments, we really can't enter into dialogues with parents on these matters.

But because of its late diagnosis, if the school didn't include something in the reference, I think you could ask tat they send an extra letter -- I've seen this done a lot. It goes NOT to the individual Departmental Admissions Tutor, please, please not! But to the University's central Admissions Office. As another posters says upthread, individual academics in Departments don't generally see the details of any declared disability. That's all dealt with centrally across the whole university, so there's parity. And central Admissions people have the expertise to make these judgements, which I don't have. What I do I have the expertise to evaluate whether a student is equipped academically to thrive in my course.

creamteas Wed 28-Nov-12 18:39:40

First, you need to ensure you tick the disability box. At my uni, all applications from students with a declared disability are double-checked to ensure all reasonable adjustments are made

Part of the school reference is verifying the information on the form, so your DS should point the issue out in his personal statement, and even it is not mentioned by the school reference, the fact that they have not challenged it, would be fine.

You could also contact the admissions tutors, but if it is on the form then this should be enough

LondonMother Wed 28-Nov-12 17:42:39

Not universal, no. My son applied for History last year. UCL's standard offer was A*AA, as stated on the website. For reasons unknown he was given an AAA offer, although his predicted grades were higher than that. The only plausible explanation I can think of is that they were keen to get him.

I have a lot of sympathy for your son's position, IDK, as it's very similar to what happened to my daughter. No ed psych report and extra time until we got a report done privately when she was in year 13. No allowance made in the UCAS process for the fact that her GCSE and AS grades were not what they should have been. Oh well, it all worked out well for her in the end, as she loves the place where she is studying and their support for students with disabilities is fantastic.

eatyourveg Wed 28-Nov-12 14:45:20

IDK school gave all all the Y13s their school references before pressing the button so it is possible to see what goes in beforehand.

Not sure its a good idea to read it though as I thought ds's reference was crap and it made me really concerned it would result in rejections from everywhere - the grammar was appalling and it was basically a rehash of his latest report. Thankfully his PS was really good and he got offers from all the unis he applied to and they all came back within a week.

The teachers did mention that if a uni states that offers range from XXX - XYY and your application says you are predicted XYY they will usually make an offer of XYY rather than XXX but there are admissions tutors on here who would be able to tell you if this is universal

kellestar Wed 28-Nov-12 14:34:03

well, where I worked we had a cull based on 5 subject passes, this means 5 different subjects at a*-c GCSE, a-e a/as level. If his subject passes were all in the same subjects, for example English Lit then it would count as one subject pass. Does that make sense?

As an admissions officer I was not made aware of any disabilities at all, unless mentioned in the personal statement or reference as these were purposely hid from us. The reasoning is that we can not discriminate for or against a disability. We had a disability department who assessed requirements separately, this information was never passed on to us, they looked at how the university could support the student.

However we take exceptional circumstances into account. I would advise you to write a letter addressed to the Admissions Officer. Especially if you've not had much support from the school getting your sons diagnosis. It would be considered with his application, if he was accepted it would be kept on file for when results are published as it will also be considered if results aren't met. Exceptional Circumstances are things like death/illness in the close family/friends, divorce, accidents, illness etc. So there is no guarantee that it will help, but it is worth having it on file.

Our offers were phrased specifically BBB, though the prospectus would suggest a range, like CCC-BBB. So they may still ask the higher requirements, but when it comes to results time they may be more flexible if he misses the actual offer by a grade.

However if an applicant applied who had low gcse's and as-levels but was predicted AAA, I would be hmm and probably contact the school to speak about why the sudden jump, I would question if it was an error.

IDK Wed 28-Nov-12 14:32:05

then the uni contacts you directly to ask for more details

Do they? I didn't know that. Is that a general thing or particular to the place you applied to?

it does rather smack of an excuse rather than a reason

I did wonder what would happen if they said that they would accept a B grade for the AS but demaned an improvement to an A grade for Y13. If we make too much of a fuss about this diagnosis then it could be a hostage to fortune. <scared>

Moominmammacat Wed 28-Nov-12 14:15:48

There's a box to tick on UCAS form for disability ... then the uni contacts you directly to ask for more details. No harm in emailing depts to flag up situation. I've done it ... but it does rather smack of an excuse rather than a reason.

IDK Wed 28-Nov-12 14:02:29

He's predicted AAA which is a jump up from AS grades, but presumably they believe that it is do-able. The standard offer of one of his choices is AAB-ABB. Is there any way to influence getting the ABB offer instead of the AAB?

titchy Wed 28-Nov-12 13:44:22

I doubt many will cull based on GCSE grades - maybe some med or vets?

What were his ASs? And his predicted A2s? That's where the cull will be. Context is everything though - if he's predicted 3 x Ds, is aiming for courses/institutions with 3 x As as standard offer he can consider himself culled. Predicted 3 x Bs, with Bs and Cs at AS shoudl mean his application is considered at least.

IDK Wed 28-Nov-12 13:18:07

That looks promising lazymum. He got a clutch of As in his favourite subjects, going through Bs, down to Cs in half-course type subjects.

Well done to your DS2!grin

lazymum99 Wed 28-Nov-12 12:54:58

How bad were the GCSE results? I ask because DS2s were not good and I thought he would need to apply again after A2s. However, he has received 4 out of 5 offers within 3 weeks of UCAS going in for Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester and Sussex. He got no A's at GCSE (7Bs and 2 Cs).

IDK Wed 28-Nov-12 12:29:08

The trouble is that you don't see the academic reference until after the button is pushed. Hof6 has said that he is going to put something in but we have no idea how strongly he will make the case until it's too late.

I thought that some Universities did an initial cull based on GCSE results -how do we avoid that?

titchy Wed 28-Nov-12 12:15:47

By support I mean the extra time or whatever he gets.

I'm fairly sure the Hof6 wouldn't write that! But something along the lines of 'Due to very late diagnosis of xx, for which 25% extra time will now be given in exams, I feel Tarquin's GCSE and AS results do not reflect his true ability, and that had this support been in place when he took his ASs I would be predicting A2 results of A* A* A, instead of AAB'

IDK Wed 28-Nov-12 12:09:14

So I have to ask the Hof6 to write a letter to the effect of 'we've had Little Tarquin for six years and didn't spot he had a LD. It was only his mum's persistance that got the diagnosis. She's got him extra time in the exam - yippee, that should sort it. Whaddya mean support?'
sad

titchy Wed 28-Nov-12 12:01:54

It absolutely MUST come from the school - can you imagine the sniggers in the admissions office if mum writes to the effect of 'Little Tarquin is extremely clever but has an undiagnosed LD which explains his crap results. Please make him a very low offer to compensate for this'.... I'm exagerating obviously but you get the picture.

Check the reference the school sends. Make sure it mentions the LD and when it was diagnosed (and who by maybe?) and what support now has been put into place, and how that support wasn't there.

He'll need a super personal statement too, and to really get across how keen he is on the subject, what he's done to demonstrate that etc.

The UCAS form will be sent electronically to the universities, no way around that. But it will be read by a real person not a machine.

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