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Appealing for a School because of a particular subject

(20 Posts)
Rudi44 Sat 08-Apr-17 19:09:26

Hello, you have all been so helpful so far. We are appealing for our preferred School, a girls School for a number of reasons one of which is that it excels in STEM and is one of the only schools I know locally to offer GCSE engineering.
DD is very focused, has already researched degrees and wants to combine her swimming with engineering at one of two specific universities. She was inspired by engineering about 2 years ago after a visit to a local university.
My question is what is enough evidence to prove we are not just blagging the engineering thing. We can evidence she has attended weekend STEM events over the past 12 months, her School has stated an aptitude for Maths, she has a collection of engineering careers magazines. What else would we need in order to prove that she needs to attend this school as it offers something others do not? Or is it a weak argument? Thank you 😊

donadumaurier Sat 08-Apr-17 19:32:32

I think the problem you're going to hit is that GCSE is not required for entry onto an engineering course at university. How highly regarded it is I don't know, but really what she needs is a school that provides triple science and a good maths department. My feeling is that it would be better to focus on that than an engineering GCSE that universities won't be bothered much about. I'm sure the experts will be along soon though so please do wait for them!

Rudi44 Sat 08-Apr-17 19:37:28

Great, yes this school offers this too inc an advance maths provision and after school clubs in maths and other relevant subjects. So mention the engineering in passing? It's a good opportunity to dip a toe in prior to a levels but more focus on the general STEM provision.

SandyDenny Sat 08-Apr-17 19:44:13

I don't think excelling in certain subjects is a valid reason to appeal but afaik being able to do a subject you can't do elsewhere is. At least I know someone who sucessfully appealed on that basis although I don't know what else she put in her appeal.

Wouldn't it be best to put everything in and let the panel decide what's relevant and what isn't?

donadumaurier Sat 08-Apr-17 19:46:15

I'm not an engineer, but I know lots of engineering students. They seem to think GCSE engineering wouldn't hurt an application for an engineering degree and it's a nice extra, but absolutely should not be taken as an alternative to triple science. Fit it in if you can, don't stress if you can't, especially given most schools don't offer it. A solid foundation in maths and the sciences is more important for an engineering degree. That would be my worry with pushing for the school on the basis of the engineering GCSE; I would imagine the panel will be aware of this.

I definitely would mention it, but I would mention it as a side point. I would structure it more as
1) DD is especially talented in maths and the sciences and is already determined to study engineering at university. School has an excellent maths department, offers maths club, strong STEM provisions, triple science GCSE etc. The emphasis needs to be on why this school's maths and sciences department is ideal for DD.
2) the school offers engineering GCSE, which would allow her to explore this interest as part of her studies at school.

But again, hoping the experts will be along soon to offer their advice too!

donadumaurier Sat 08-Apr-17 19:48:35

Sandy it is if the school appealing for has special provisions in that subject. Ie. an appeal on the basis of "DD is brilliant at maths and school A gets better maths results" isn't particularly strong. An appeal on the basis of 'DD is gifted and passionate regarding maths and School A offers a Maths club after school, extra opportunities in maths etc' is a strong case.

Rudi44 Sat 08-Apr-17 19:49:23

Thanks so much guys, all super helpful stuff. 👍🏻

oilman Sat 08-Apr-17 19:52:58

I'm a Chartered Engineer and can say that the focus really needs to be on mathematics then the sciences, with Physics being the most important.

It was a while since I went to university, but I have memories of the number of students that dropped out in the first year and sometimes first term due to a lack of competence in maths.

I'd say it's a weak argument to get into a particular school unfortunately. However it is good to see people inspired by engineering!!

Rudi44 Sat 08-Apr-17 19:54:27

Part of my worry was that anyone could rock up and say DD wants to be x y and z. How seriously would a panel take the aspirations of a 10 year old? Or how much would they trust what a parent was saying. If my daughter wanted to be a swimmer ( which she does) or an actress it would be pretty easy to evidence this. The engineering dream we can provide some evidence but not stacks of it.

Rudi44 Sat 08-Apr-17 19:57:10

Cheers oilman, my daughter is a total maths nerd (her words) and has always wanted to follow a maths path. It wasn't until she visited an engineering department at a local uni that she had a name for what she wanted to do.
I am so grateful for all the advice, it's really helping me get it clear in my head :-)

admission Sat 08-Apr-17 20:09:13

In normal situations of an admission appeal, wanting the school for a specific subject at GCSE is not a strong argument at all.
I would be tempted to do as suggested by donadumaurier but open it out and round it up even more. You need to find what else the school offers that you can suggest would suit your child. You mention swimming, so is sport particularly strong in the schools, do they happen to have an on-site swimming pool which you can use for training? What other clubs or after school activities could she do?
By all means evidence in writing the courses she has been on but bringing in the engineering career booklets is not going to give any weight to your argument for admission, it is just not any part of an argument to admit. The only other possible positive I can think of is if your daughter has been on a course etc which already has ties into the school, possibly run by the school or run by a teacher at the school, which could just put your application a bot above other appeal reasons.
Having said that I suspect you will be with many others in asking for this school and many will have latched onto the engineering course as being quite unusual, so there could well be a lot of appeals saying the same as you. Sorry to say that but whilst your daughter may have a genuine desire to do engineering and good for her for doing it, the reality is that many parents will "play the game" at appeal in the hope of getting a place.

Rudi44 Sat 08-Apr-17 20:19:23

Thanks admission, yes the STEM provision is just one strand to appeal, swimming is another backed up with a great letter from her coach. The School is a great sporting School with lots of top athletes having attended and has great links to an elite swimming team.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Sun 09-Apr-17 06:15:42

Sometimes I think that it is just a numbers game for secondary appeals. The school grudgingly agrees that they might squeeze an extra six pupils in and the appeal panel then need to decide who of the people appealing are the six who would best fit in the school. If your daughter shows an interest in swimming, science and engineering then that might give her the edge over someone just interested in the swimming and science. Other families might though have more compelling reasons why their daughter should get the place. We just had a letter from someone in an allied profession confirming that this was her stated wish and her aptitude. Who knows whether that is what tipped the balance in her favour.

Rudi44 Sun 09-Apr-17 07:04:01

Thanks shouldwestay, I guess that's why I want to chuck everything at the appeal (but with differing emphasis) and hope that some of it sticks. There are other factors we will be incuding as well.
It is so tough, we can see that this School would be perfect for her, it's the School DD picked as her favourite, I hope if I can articulate myself well at appeal she has a fighting chance but I guess it depends on who else is in the mix if there are a lot of appeals.

shouldwestayorshouldwego Sun 09-Apr-17 07:15:23

You might also find useful. Although it is aimed at appeals for grammar schools there is also advice on oversubscription (because a child might pass but be outside the catchment etc). On the forum there is also a list of appeal experiences and the questions parents had been asked. We found it really useful.

Rudi44 Sun 09-Apr-17 07:20:57

Thanks a million, will check that out. Did you win your appeal by the way? It sounds as though you did.

catslife Sun 09-Apr-17 15:27:00

OP The good news is that I do know of families where children have won an appeal based on being able to take a specific subject at GCSE.
The bad news is that there is no guarantee that this school (or any school) will still be offering a specific GCSE subject in 4 or 5 years time.
Reforms in GCSEs mean that many "niche" GCSE subjects are being axed and not redeveloped as new 9-1 GCSEs.
The article seems to imply that Engineering GCSE may not be available in a few years time so would recommend you check this further before you use it as the basis of an appeal.

catslife Sun 09-Apr-17 16:24:07

OK it looks as if for Engineering the GCSE has been reformed as a new 9-1 qualification but its the A level that is being discontinued. The latter could affect GCSE take-up though. It may also mean that if the school are employing a teacher specifically to teach this subject, this may become a less viable option. Is there any data available about how many pupils take this subject each year?

Rudi44 Sun 09-Apr-17 18:50:50

Thanks catslife, I will get my facts straight before appeal. Would you say that if A level is being discon then the opportunity to try the subject at GCSE is more important? Or am I clutching at straws 😁
Am beyond grateful for all the advice, DD is my only child (thankfully as I don't think I could go through this again) and I am new to all of this. It's such a mine field.

bojorojo Sun 09-Apr-17 22:40:33

Hardly any engineer takes A level Engineering never mind GCSE Engineering. (DH took A level Engineering in the 70s when it was inventive and worthwhile). Maths and Physics are the important subjects and, as she gets older, taking things apart, putting them back together. She should
narrow down what branch of engineering she would like and being well informed about that. Engineers are problem solvers so think how she can develop a talent for this whether it be drainage and flood relief, providing electricity or designing a car. Thinking about how things work and how they can be improved is a start.

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