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The Children's Panel - life changing

Information for employers of panel members

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Do you have an employee who wishes to join the Children’s Panel or is already a Children’s Panel member? If so, this section of our website should help you to find out more about the Children’s Panel.

What is the Children’s Panel?

The Children’s Panel is the largest lay tribunal in Scotland, making decisions to help improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people.

What is a panel member?

A panel member is a lay tribunal member who volunteers to sit on Children’s Panels. Panel members are people from the community who come from a wide range of backgrounds. Panel members must be at least 18 years old but there is no upper age limit. Panel member recruitment takes place annually and the first term of appointment is three years. Children’s Panel members are appointed by the National Convener of Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) on recommendation of the Area Support Team (AST), which interviews and selects candidates. There are approximately 2,500 panel members across Scotland.

What is the role of a panel member?

Panel members play a vital role in the Children’s Hearings System, volunteering their time, skills and commitment to make decisions in the best interests of the children and young people that come to hearings, to help improve their lives. Panel members have to deal with cases that are often complex, difficult and emotionally challenging. They are carefully selected and highly trained for their role. But in many cases they need their employer’s support to carry out that role.

What can I do to help?

The supportive partnership between the panel member and employer is crucial to the functioning of the Children’s Hearings System. Children’s hearings normally take place during the day and panel members usually sit on one or two half-day sessions per month. As members of statutory tribunals, Children’s Panel members are entitled to reasonable time off work to carry out their duties (Section 50, Employment Rights Act 1996). So the willing and enthusiastic support of employers, line managers and colleagues is essential for the system to work effectively.

As an employer, what do I gain?

Because Children’s Panel members are required to complete SCQF level 7 accredited training, which is externally verified by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, they gain many key skills that are transferable to the workplace, such as:

  • communicating effectively – especially with children and their families
  • working as a member of a team
  • reading, understanding and processing complex information contained within reports
  • the capacity to take responsibility for making difficult decisions
  • maintaining confidentiality and handling sensitive information
  • managing conflict
  • leading and chairing meetings

Panel members learn to absorb, consider and critically analyse large quantities of detailed information from the professional reports produced for hearings. These skills can help employees to be more confident and effective, and they are developed at no cost to you as an employer. Supporting employees to train and volunteer makes good business sense.

Tell me more about the training

CHS is committed to equipping panel members to be effective and confident in their role. It’s vital that all panel members continually develop and update their knowledge and practice to make the best decisions for children and young people. New panel members must commit to undertaking an initial training programme, which is spread over two years and starts with pre-service training. Pre-service training typically consists of two or three evening sessions and seven full days’ training, as well as some online study and assessment. They are also expected to observe two or three children’s hearings (during a weekday) as part of the initial four-month training period.

Following pre-service training and appointment to the national Children’s Panel, panel members will be asked to undertake a further review and revision training day, plus a two day course on the management of hearings. Management of Hearings training equips them to chair children’s hearings. Having fully qualified, panel members must continue to maintain their skills through nationally provided core and mandatory training courses, as well as local learning and development sessions.

National training is normally held in the evenings or at the weekends, but sometimes weekdays are available too. For more information about the training, please visit www.childrenspanelscotland.org.

Can panel members claim expenses?

Panel members can claim travel and some other out of pocket expenses from CHS. A loss of earnings allowance is also payable to the panel member by CHS, if paid time off is not available from their employer. In most cases, the amount payable to panel members will not fully compensate them for actual loss of earnings, so panel members value the full support of their employers.

Do you want to know more about the Children’s Hearings System?

Please refer to the ‘The Children’s Hearings System’ section on our website. A number of quotes from employers who support the Children's Panel are available on the panel member recruitment website.

To find out more, please contact the clerk to the Area Support Team in your local council. The clerk to the AST is always interested to learn of employers who actively support staff who are panel members. Contact details for the Clerks to the AST can be found in ‘Contact Us’.