WHO ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
In a word, you. There’s no one type of person or background that makes the ideal Children’s Panel Member. Your gender, religion, age, qualifications, employment status, and any previous criminal convictions (within reason) aren’t important. However, it goes without saying you’ll be a good listener, reliable and importantly you need to care.
But don't just take it from us, here's what care experienced children and young people think makes the perfect Panel Member:
You'll also be at least 18 years of age, live and/or work in the local authority area in which you wish to volunteer, and be able to attend training from December until May.
WILL I RECEIVE TRAINING?
Most definitely. As a trainee Panel Member, you commit to an initial, intensive training programme which typically involves two or three evening sessions and seven full days training, as well as some online study and assessment within a four month training period. This initial period is called ‘pre-service’ and in addition to gaining knowledge and skills development, you will also have the opportunity to observe two or three children’s hearings within pre-service.
In the first two years after you’re appointed, you’ll be asked to undertake a further review and revision training day and a two-day course on the Management of Hearings. Management of Hearings training equips you to chair children’s hearings.
WILL I KEEP LEARNING IN THE FUTURE?
Having fully qualified as one of our Panel Members, you continue to maintain your skills through training courses, as well as local learning and development sessions. Throughout your time as a Panel Member training is normally held in the evenings or at the weekends, but sometimes weekdays are available too.
WHAT SKILLS WILL I GAIN?
Your training and experience as a Panel Member will equip you with a huge range of skills.
These skills will include understanding the needs of and effectively communicating with children and young people; principles and practices within the Children’s Hearings System, including law and procedure; chairing hearings; decision making; and protecting rights.
Other skills include leadership, teamwork, analytical thinking, and decision making.
WILL I GAIN ANY QUALIFICATIONS?
Following successful completion of the pre-service training and management of hearings training, you will gain a Professional Development Award for ‘Children’s Hearings in Scotland: Panel Members’. This sits within the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF) Level 7. It is a unique award that is verified by the Scottish Qualifications Authority, and is one of the few bespoke awards for volunteers.
The award has been designed to provide Panel Members with a nationally recognised, certified and accredited qualification.
HOW ARE VOLUNTEERS SELECTED?
For new Panel Members, the recruitment process involves going to information sessions, completing an application form and attending interviews and group discussions. You’ll go through a thorough recruitment process before being appointed by the National Convener who will have received a recommendation from your local Area Support Team.
HOW LONG WILL I BE APPOINTED FOR?
The initial period of appointment is three years and is renewable on further recommendation to the National Convener from the Area Support Team.
HOW DO I APPLY?
You can apply by clicking the 'Volunteer Now' button. If you are in employment, remember to speak to your employer and line manager to make sure they’re happy to support your application to volunteer on the Children’s Panel.
If you have a disability or any special requirements that need to be considered for you to carry out the role of Panel Member, please speak to the Clerk in your local area (you can find their details here). They will be very happy to discuss your needs with you.
WILL I NEED TIME OFF WORK?
Yes. Children’s hearings take place on weekdays during daytime hours. Panel Members are normally called to attend either a morning or an afternoon session once or twice a month. For those who are in employment, this usually means asking their employers for time off work.
Since children’s hearings are statutory tribunals (similar to jury duty), employees have a statutory right to take reasonable time off work to sit on these hearings, as set out in section 50 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. What is considered ‘reasonable’ includes the circumstances of your employer’s business and the effect your absence could have on the running of the business.
DO I GET PAID DURING TIME OFF FOR CHILDREN'S HEARINGS?
The statutory right to time off for public duties does not carry an entitlement to pay during that time. Many employers do allow their employees paid time off and we welcome this level of support from employers. However, a loss of earnings allowance, in accordance with Children’s Hearings Scotlands’ expenses policy, is also available if paid time off is not.
Panel members can also claim travel and other reasonable expenses back from us.