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Children's panels deprived of teachers

LOCAL authorities were slammed by Cathy Jamieson, Education Minister, for widely varying practice in allowing teachers time off to act as panel members.

In unreported comments during her speech to the Dundee seminar, Ms Jamieson said hearings were part of a national system. "Is it right that in one education authority teachers who are panel members are given time off for attending hearings and for training? Yet in another, teachers have to take annual leave to attend hearings or training."

She continued: "Corporate policy may well support membership of the panel but, at an operational level, that commitment appears not to be carried through. Does this represent a joined-up approach to supporting the system, especially when local authorities have spent time and resources on training panel members?"

Inconsistency in decisions taken by reporters also came in for ministerial criticism. One referred just 10 per cent of cases to a hearing, while another referred 47 per cent.

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