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We want to be upfront with you. You should be aware that there is a considerable time commitment required in becoming a panel member, so please think about this carefully. You will need to commit to the initial training programme which is spread over two years, and be able to prepare in advance of each hearing. Then there’s attendance at the hearings themselves, and the expectation that you’ll continue to maintain your skills through on-going mandatory training. This is an important role and it takes a lot of commitment. However, the rewards can be enormous. If you think you have the time and dedication required, please read on……


All types of people. We are looking for independent thinkers, good listeners and communicators with great negotiating skills and the ability to keep a level head in difficult situations.

You could be who we are looking for if you are able to:

  • commit the time
  • listen to all sides of a story
  • make difficult decisions
  • process information
  • empathise with children and young people

Panel members are ordinary people like you who have chosen to do something extraordinary and make a positive contribution to children and young people who are at risk in their community.

You do not need any formal qualifications. However, to apply you must be aged 18 or over and you must either live or work in the local authority area in which you wish to become a panel member. All applications are subject to a police check through the Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme (PVG) that is managed and delivered by Disclosure Scotland.


Hear from young people what kind of person would make the 'Perfect Panel Member':

Hear from young people about their experiences of the Children's Hearings System, and what qualities they think the ideal panel member should have:


It could change your life and make a difference to someone else's. Many people join the Children's Panel because they want to make a valuable contribution to their community.

Others enjoy the skills development that membership of the Children's Panel can bring. Many of the skills that make a good panel member are also highly valued in the workplace such as negotiation, leadership, communication and teamwork.

These are tested time and time again at children's hearings and panel members reap the benefit when they apply their experience to other parts of their lives.

The training you receive to be a panel member should lead to you gaining a professional development award which is accredited to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 7. This gives panel members a recognised qualification in return for their commitment to the Children’s Hearings System.


Hear current panel members talk about their experiences of the Children's Hearings System, and what it's like to be a panel member:


The Children's Hearings System depends on a supportive partnership between Children's Panel members and their employers.

Your job

The very nature of panel membership means that members must be able to attend hearings at times when they might normally be at work. If you are employed, it is crucial that your employer appreciates the value of the commitment that you might be making when you volunteer for the role.

Hearings are statutory tribunals and it is an employee's statutory right to be allowed 'reasonable' time off to attend hearings and training.

However, the enthusiastic and willing cooperation of employers is essential for the system to work effectively.

If you are employed, you will have to attend hearings during normal office hours, however your employer is likely to benefit from the training you'll receive as a panel member, as many of the skills developed are useful in the workplace.

Loss of earnings

While some employers support panel members' activities on full pay, some others do not. Panel members can claim travel and some other expenses and if paid time off is not available an allowance for loss of earnings can be claimed - although it's unlikely you'll be fully compensated for actual loss of earnings.


Once you've been appointed as a panel member, you get lots of help and training.

Training is delivered by Children Hearings Scotland's Training Unit, which is run in partnership with West Lothian College. Training is carried out at a number of venues across Scotland. The training you complete to become a panel member should lead to a professional development award (PDA), which is accredited to Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 7. 

It’s vital that all panel members continually update their knowledge and practice to make the best decisions for children and young people. As a new panel member you must commit to undertaking an initial training programme, which is spread over two years and starts with pre-service training. This typically consists of two or three evening sessions and seven full days’ training, as well as some online study and assessment. You would also be 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, you’ll be asked to undertake a further review and revision training day, plus a two day course on the management of hearings. Having fully qualified as a panel member, you must continue to maintain your skills through nationally provided core and mandatory training courses, as well as local learning and development sessions. Training is normally held in the evenings or at the weekends, but sometimes weekdays are available too. More information, including the dates for pre-service training for 2018 is available in our 'Introduction to Children's Panel member training'.

The training is designed to develop a range of knowledge and skills including:

  • law and procedure
  • equal treatment
  • communication and children’s views and participation
  • conduct of hearing
  • management of information
  • decision making
  • protecting rights
  • leadership
  • teamwork
  • effective communication
  • analytical thinking
  • decision making
  • influencing and negotiation

For more information, visit our 'Resources' page where you will find information leaflets, training information and videos you can read, download and watch.