A Reporter to the Children’s Panel decides if children (up to the age of 16) who need care and protection or are in trouble, should go to a Children's Hearing.
Children may be referred to the Panel by the police, the procurator fiscal, or by the Department of Social Work or Education, where for example, a child might be suffering abuse or neglect, or may have committed an offence.
You could be:
- working with other staff to make sure the service is effective and meets the needs of each child you deal with
- investigating cases, collecting and reviewing evidence
- asking for details from a school, health visitor, social worker or educational psychologist
- deciding whether to refer the child to the Social Work Department, or to a Hearing of the Children’s Panel to consider whether the child should be placed under supervision
- arranging a Hearing – if you, the child and the child’s parents agree to a Hearing, you set it up near where the child lives
- giving the child, the parents and the Panel members details of the Hearing and any necessary papers beforehand
- asking a sheriff to decide on a Hearing if the parties do not agree – you might have to give evidence in court to support your advice
- attending the Hearing and recording what happens, giving legal advice to the Panel, making sure all confidential documents are returned, and sending all parties written copies of decisions
- arranging a Review Hearing as recommended by the Panel, or requested by the child, parent or Social Work Department.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the company or organisation you work in
- the demand for the job.
Salaries for Reporters to the Children’s Panel are sometimes on the local government pay scales. Starting pay is currently £40,284 rising to £44,034 a year with experience.
- You would work in an office but travel to Hearings and to attend court.
- Hours are normally regular but you might have to work some evenings and weekends.
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- You will need a degree either in law, social work, or another relevant subject such as education.
- For entry to a law degree in Scotland (the LLB degree), you need 5 Highers at good grades, usually gained at one sitting. You normally need English and, for some courses, Maths or a science subject, or a modern language.
- For entry to a degree in social work you need 3-5 Highers, depending on the institution.
- You need 2 years' relevant work experience and preferably experience in court.
- It helps if you have a driving licence.
- You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need.
The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) employs reporters to the Children’s Panel. There is one in each local authority.
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What Does it Take?
You need to be:
- able to relate to, and communicate with, people from all backgrounds
- able to work as part of a team
- sympathetic towards children’s needs
- good at interviewing, investigating and assessing
- tactful and diplomatic
- confident and decisive
- logical and observant
- well organised, to deal with several cases at the same time
- positive, enthusiastic and adaptable.
You should have:
- the ability to plan and prioritise your workload
- the ability to work to deadlines
- shrewd judgement and influencing skills
- a good memory
- an understanding of the law and of the Scottish Children’s Hearing system
- IT skills
- decision-making skills.
- Specialist training is provided in the Children’s Hearing system, relevant law, assessment of children’s needs, child development and agency rules.
- You will need to undertake continued professional development (CPD) throughout your career.
- If you perform your job satisfactorily, you can progress through a series of grades.
- If you are a qualified lawyer, you might move on to become a sheriff.
The Children’s Hearing system is unique to Scotland. It helps children and young people facing serious problems in their lives. They may need protection or have been in trouble with the police. Most children referred to the Panel are on care and protection grounds.
The SCRA has nine localities throughout Scotland. The nine localities are: Highlands and Islands; North Strathclyde; Glasgow; Grampian; South East; Tayside and Fife; Ayrshire; Central; and Lanarkshire/Dumfries and Galloway.
You can find more details about the job of Reporter in the recruitment section of the SCRA website in A Day in the Life of a Children's Reporter.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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