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Help with appeal please

(34 Posts)
Elisheva Sun 19-Mar-17 08:31:34

Posting on behalf of a friend.
Her DD applied to a school which specialises in performing arts. As such it admits up to 36 students each year based on 'Aptitude for the performing arts'. It is an outstanding school in an area with several not so good schools so many out of catchment children apply for the aptitude places - over 200 this year.
They attend a one day workshop where all the students are assessed on their 'aptitude'.
My friend's DD is an avid performer, she goes to classes after school and on Saturday, spends her holidays either competing or performing and has done since she was small.
She has not got a place at the school. Apparently the decision is made solely based on the child's performance at the workshop. The children are all scored and those who achieve the required score are then ranked and offered places based on the schools normal entry criteria. Extra curricular activities/experience are not taken into consideration.
My friend and her DD are devastated. She feels it is unfair that children who have no real interest in performing arts are using this as a route to get into a better school. They were so excited when they found out about the school because
the whole ethos of the school is based around the performing arts, so there are a lot more clubs and extra curricular activities, plus they have a large range of related courses and qualifications.
They are appealing but do they have any chance of success?

meditrina Sun 19-Mar-17 08:46:10

"Apparently the decision is made solely based on the child's performance at the workshop."

This is totally correct, because it avoids unintended preference for those who can afford and support extracurricular activists.

I d not think you will make a convincing case for appeal based on the school not considering something they are not allowed to consider.

user1486838048 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:07:09

Aptitude is to me the key word, aptitude is about potential and raw talent and this doesn't have to be something that's taught

I wonder how your friend knows they are only using the performing arts criteria to get into the school? Perhaps these are kids who would have loved to have done drama but haven't had the opportunity?

Devilishpyjamas Sun 19-Mar-17 09:17:36

I can't see they have any chance.

Performing arts are always about performance on the day/in the audition - and they will know what they are looking for.

I suppose it's the same as 11 plus - tuition may help you get into a school but is no guarantee of a place.

Rudi44 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:21:34

I definitely think with performing arts you can be over taught. My DD has been going to a performing art school since the age of 4, we moved her a year ago to a more creative improv theatre school because we felt that the School she attended was churning out very polished identikit kids.
There is a School in our city that has a music aptitude exam and a high percentage of kids that get in under this criteria have never been taught music.

LadyPenelope68 Sun 19-Mar-17 09:25:21

If the criteria is on "aptitude" then there are no grounds for appeal, she obviously didn't meet the standard on the day. Just because she goes to extra curricular activities/performs regularly, doesn't necessarily mean she has a real talent. I think it's good that the extra curricular stuff isn't taken into account, as lots of families can't afford to send their children to drama/dance lessons. It gives children with a real aptitude/talent a huge opportunity.

Elisheva Sun 19-Mar-17 12:11:37

Thank you for your replies. She did meet the standard on the day but then didn't get a place because of distance. I think they are appealing on the grounds that this school offer opportunities that the other school doesn't. They know that some of the others used this as a route to get into a better school because they are the DDs friends and the mothers talk to one another!

Allthebestnamesareused Sun 19-Mar-17 14:18:43

But those children also met the standard required or they would not have been offered places hmm

LadyPenelope68 Sun 19-Mar-17 14:59:19

Those other children also met the standard, whether they are using that as a way to get in is irrelevant as they still met the standard!

I could be wrong, but I also think the only criteria for appeal is if an error was made in the admissions process, not just because this school "suits her better". Basically, she wasn't as good as the others so didn't score highly enough to get a place - end of.

Elisheva Sun 19-Mar-17 15:05:05

she wasn't as good as the others so didn't score highly enough to get a place
That's not how it works - she scored as highly as the others, the places were allocated by distance from the school.
I was asking for help with the appeal process. Secondary appeals don't work the same way as primary and I was hoping that one of the admissions experts could offer advice but maybe they don't hang out in secondary. I'll repost in primary.

wannabestressfree Sun 19-Mar-17 15:26:59

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MovingOnUpMovingOnOut Sun 19-Mar-17 15:31:55

How is it unfair? Under what grounds would an appeal be made?

There has been a clear process that has been consistently and fairly applied. It's a shame she lives further out than the others but that's just hard luck.

There has to be a cut off somewhere because there aren't enough places for all who want them. That's too bad and not grounds for an appeal.

tiggytape Sun 19-Mar-17 16:40:05

As others have said, aptitude is the key word in such admissions policies. They absolutely cannot take into account genuine interest versus a feigned interest to get a place at a good school.

And it is deliberately set that way. If they simply said a grade 5 for a music place trumped a grade 3 for example, it would be hugely unfair on children whose parents do not have the time or money to devote to extracurricular activities. And state school admissions seek to minimise any criteria that favours people who have more time and money to spare than others. So yes, it is all based on how much aptitude each child shows on the assessment day and not at all on their passion or interest in drama.

Anyway, it is debatable whether this is even relevant (apart from to the mother's sense of fairness) since you say the child passed the test but missed out because so many others also passed. Other children were deemed to have equal aptitude for drama and then it came down to a distance tie breaker and some form of ranking system - you allude to the children being ranked in your initial post. As long as the distance used is accurate (they have the child's address recorded correctly) then that's all as it should be. The school and it's policies are in exact accordance with the rules on selecting students based on music / sports/ drama etc in a state school and whilst the mum may think it isn't fair, this is exactly how it is supposed to be done.

So then you move on to appeal accepting that the decisions so far are correct but "appealing on the grounds that this school offer opportunities that the other school doesn't."
This is absolutely something that can be used at appeal to show why this school best meets the child's interests. It may be hard to convince a panel that a child who has a vast array of drama activities outside school is missing out by not attending drama clubs at school but if this school offers performing arts qualifications that the child cannot otherwise take, this might be the thing to focus on. Your friend would have a good point to raise in saying that a child with a talent in this area would be best served if they could attend a school that allows them to qualify in something they plan to pursue.

admission Sun 19-Mar-17 17:30:59

Can't add anything really to what Tiggytape has said.Go to appeal on the basis of what this school can offer but be realistic that there will be a lot more parents doing exactly the same so somehow to get a place you will need to be presenting a very compelling case. Nothing that has been said so far would suggest that is something you have.

Elisheva Sun 19-Mar-17 17:36:20

Thank you - this is exactly the advice we need! They are not appealing based on an error being made, they understand the system and everything has been done correctly. They are appealing because they genuinely think this is the best school for the DD. It offers significantly more opportunities in performing arts, not just clubs but trips, visiting speakers, projects etc. They offer a Btec in Performing Arts, plus GCSEs in drama and dance. The other school only offers drama. It is an ICT specialist school I think, so is more geared towards that.
wannabestrssfree would a letter from the child be a valuable addition?
My friend is just trying to do the best for her daughter. I think she realises there is slim chance but she feels she has to try.

prh47bridge Sun 19-Mar-17 23:06:48

DO NOT put a letter from the child in evidence. That is unlikely to help and could hinder. The appeal panel will be far more interested in letters from the child's performing arts teachers saying how interested she is and how she will benefit from attending this school.

tiggytape Mon 20-Mar-17 12:54:35

Agree with prh. Any letters submitted should be purely factual and preferably expert opinion that support the basis of the appeal.
So a letter from the child's drama coach saying that the appeal school offers XY and Z qualification and explaining why this is so important to someone considering a career in the performing arts would be the best bet.

Elisheva Mon 20-Mar-17 21:42:11

Thank you all for your help.

wannabestressfree Mon 20-Mar-17 21:43:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

admission Mon 20-Mar-17 21:53:53

wannabestressfree, sorry but not sure in any training for admission appeals or the documentation for appeals have I come across anything that says letters from children should be given priority. To me that is something you should not be basing decisions on.

wannabestressfree Mon 20-Mar-17 22:08:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

eddiemairswife Mon 20-Mar-17 22:09:02

You've no idea whether the child has written of their own volition, or had the letter dictated to them by the parent.

Trb17 Mon 20-Mar-17 22:18:35

I thought that all appeal panels were impartial and not linked to the school? If the head at wannabestressfrees school gets to decide to accept an appeal based on a soft spot for a child's letter, surely that is not correct?

prh47bridge Mon 20-Mar-17 22:22:08

It is absolutely not correct. The appeal panel is required to be impartial and not linked to the school. The fact that the head has a soft spot for hand written letters is definitely not something that should enter into their thinking. By going down this route they are laying themselves wide open to having their decisions overturned.

titchy Mon 20-Mar-17 22:31:05

How does your head even get to make the decision wannabe? They can't be the panel chair surely? How illegal is that!

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