The role of the Panel Member
Panel members are volunteers appointed to the national Children’s Panel by the National Convener. However, Panel Members are independent from the National Convener.
Panel Members are lay people with a wide range of backgrounds who are recruited from all over Scotland. So far as practicable Panel Members should live and/or work in the local authority area in which they sit on Hearings.
How are Panel Members recruited?
In general new Panel Members are recruited annually. Individuals are selected through a competency based interview and selection process. More information about the recruitment of Panel Members can be found on the panel member recruitment website.
How are Panel Members trained?
Once selected individuals undertake an initial two year training programme, leading to a Professional Development Award (PDA). There are three parts to the PDA, modules 1 and 2 (‘Needs of Children and Young People within the Hearings System’ and ‘Principles and Practice for Children’s Panel Members’) must be successfully achieved before an individual can be appointed to the national Panel. Module 3 (Management of Hearings) is undertaken after approximately one year of panel membership. Panel Members also undertake national core training on a variety of topics as well as learning and development arranged locally.
The role of a Panel Member in a Children’s Hearing
A Panel Member is a decision-maker. A Panel Member is not a social worker, a counsellor or a problem solver. It is the role of the Panel Member to read the information and reports provided before a Children’s Hearing; to ask questions at the Hearing to understand and challenge information and recommendations made to the Hearing; to ensure that the child and relevant persons are able to participate effectively in the Hearing; and to make the decision the individual Panel Member considers is in the best interests of the child. Each Panel Member makes an individual decision and the majority decision will be the decision of the Children’s Hearing.
One of three Panel Members will act as the chairing member of the Hearing. This role means that the panel member is responsible for ensuring certain procedural aspects of the Hearing are met.
The National Convener gives Panel Members information to help them with their practice in Hearings. The Practice and Procedure Manual is the core of this information and sets out the law, procedure and practice at Children’s Hearings for Panel Members