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Appealing the 11+

Didn’t pass the 11+? It’s not too late to appeal. This page is to provide guidance to those parents and carers who think their son has the appropriate ability level to succeed at Boston Grammar School.

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Non-Qualification Appeals

You will need to present enough evidence to the appeals panel to show that your child has the ability to benefit from a Grammar School education despite the fact that they did not reach the qualifying score.  This will consist of evidence of high academic ability and may also include evidence about mitigating circumstances which explain why your child did not perform to the best of their ability in the tests.

Academic Evidence

The most ready source of information about your child’s ability is likely to be his current primary school.  You will need to ask whether the school will feel able to support your appeal and what evidence they will be able to produce to substantiate this support.  You may wish to ask the head teacher or class teacher to comment on: ability in the core subjects, English, Mathematics and Science including the predicted KS2 SATS level and current Teacher Assessment Level; qualities of perseverance, application and ability to work independently; attendance, health, etc, which may have adversely affected the child’s overall performance in the tests; whether they are aware of anything on the day of either test which would have adversely affected the child’s performance in the test; whether they think that the child’s score in the 11+ tests accurately reflects his ability and if not what score they would have expected the child to achieve and why.  Some of the Foundation Grammar Schools may send a form for the primary school to complete covering the above areas.  Otherwise it will be entirely up to you to seek the appropriate information from your child’s primary school head teacher to submit to the appeals panel.  The more evidence you have of very high ability the better.

Academic evidence could include

  • Good scores in curriculum tests, high teacher assessments in core subjects and good predicted scores for KS2 SATS tests.  The more specific the teacher can be, the better, so if Jane is working at Level 5a in his Maths this will be stronger than simply saying he is at Level 5.

  • Good previous school reports especially if they detail National Curriculum attainment levels or talk of high ability.

  • A high Reading Age if the school carries out Reading Age testing.

  • High standardised scores in NfER tests or high CATS test scores if the school carries out any of these tests.

  • Good day-to-day academic work in your child’s school books, especially if the teacher has written favourable comments which reflect on your child’s ability.

  • Strongly expressed opinion from the head teacher that your child is suitable for a Grammar school education.
  • Academic evidence would not include

  • Letters about how good your child is at extra-curricular activities or hobbies unless they have a clearly academic focus e.g. it might be useful to include the fact that your child is the Junior Eastern Counties Chess Champion or has reached a high grade in music examinations but not that they play hockey for the County Team.

  • Letters about community spirit, fund raising activities, leadership qualities or excellent behaviour.

  • The fact that your child was not tutored for the tests.
  • Evidence about Mitigating Circumstances

    You will need to think about whether any extenuating circumstances are sufficient to explain the shortfall in marks.  It is important, if possible, to include documentary evidence from an appropriate person outside the family who can substantiate the way in which your child is/was affected, e.g. you may say “Jane was worried about my health when he took the 11+”; if Jane’s teacher can write something like “Jane was clearly anxious and distracted when his mother was undergoing tests at the hospital and his schoolwork suffered.  I am sure that his performance in the 11+ tests was affected”, then your evidence will be corroborated and strengthened.

    Some Frequently Asked Questions about Non-Qualification Appeals 

    My child’s head teacher is anti-Grammar Schools.  What can I do if he won’t support my appeal?

    Your child’s head teacher may still be willing to state brief facts such as your child’s latest test scores, teacher assessments, and predicted SATS scores.  They may also be willing to allow your child’s class teacher to write a report.  Talk to them about it. 

    My child narrowly missed the qualification score.  I have since discovered that a lot of children were tutored for the 11+.  Can I say that my child was not tutored? 

    The official guidance states that the 2 Familiarisation tests are sufficient preparation for the 11+ so this argument is not likely to carry any weight. 

    My child has dyslexia.  He usually gets extra time to do tests at school but he did not in the 11+ and we think this is why he didn’t pass.  What should we do? My child has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.  He has difficulties in coping with new and unfamiliar situations.  If he had taken the tests in his own school we think he would have been fine but he got so anxious taking the tests at the Grammar School he had to leave before he finished the papers.  What can I do?  

    Where a child has a known condition, illness or learning difficulty which might qualify as a disability under the Disability and Discrimination Act the Grammar School should give consideration to making “reasonable adjustments” to the testing situation.  As this is a complex area we would suggest that you seek further advice if you think that this may apply to your child.  You should, in any case, put forward evidence about your child’s condition and how it affects them as mitigating circumstances to explain why they did not perform as well as expected in the tests.  

    My child had been in England for less than two years when he took the tests. He did well in the non-verbal reasoning test but not so well in the verbal reasoning test because he is still learning English.  What can we do?

    If your child has English as an additional language we would suggest that you seek further advice about your appeal.  You would, in any case, be able to put forward the fact that English is not your child’s first language as a reason for them not being able to show their true ability in the test. 

    Some Frequently Asked Questions about Non-Qualification and Oversubscription Appeals  

    Will I know whether the appeal panel has accepted that my child is suitable for a Grammar School education before I have to present my reasons for wanting this particular school? 

    No. You will need to present your evidence about your child’s academic ability and any mitigating circumstances which prevented them from performing to the best of their ability in the tests and your reasons for wanting this particular school in the same hearing, though it may be helpful to separate the issues in your submissions.

    Oversubscription Appeals 

    Appeals for full Grammar Schools are similar to any other appeal for a full school.  Please read Fact Sheet 1: APPEALING FOR A SCHOOL.  It is possible that academic arguments about the need for a Grammar School may carry some weight, particularly where the offered school has poor academic performance, offers fewer curriculum choices and does not have a 6th Form and where the 11+ score is particularly high.  You should try to be as specific as possible about what your child will be able to gain from the particular Grammar School which they would not be able to get at the allocated school.  

    Some Frequently Asked Questions about Oversubscription Appeals for Grammar Schools 

    There are a lot of people appealing for this school.  There was a hearing at night and the appeal panel said they agreed that the school was full and that “prejudice” would be caused to the education of pupils in the school if they take any more pupils.  Does this mean there is no point going ahead with my individual appeal?

    No. The panel will still go on to consider each individual appeal and weigh up any “prejudice” or harm to the education or safety of the pupils in the school against the difficulties it will cause for your child if they do not get a place at the school. 

    My child got a really high score.  Surely they are more likely to let him in than someone who only just passed? 

    Not necessarily. The appeals panel will consider all the reasons for each child needing the school.  It is quite possible that other reasons may be more compelling.

    The school allocates places on score order.  My child passed the 11+ but didn’t score highly enough to get a place.  I am not sure how to approach my appeal.  

    You may wish to include some evidence of particularly high ability in any academic area or reasons why your child did not score as highly as expected as well as any arguments about why the school is the most appropriate for your child. 

    Useful Resources  

    www.elevenplusexams.co.uk is a website with a wealth of information about 11+ exams.  The Appeals Q&A section is useful and there is an active Forum.  Please note that some of the information is specific to particular areas

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