Skip to main content

 

Information for Teachers and Education Support Staff

Introduction

The Children’s Hearings System is the care and justice system for Scotland’s children and young people. A fundamental principle is that children who commit offences, and children who need care and protection, are dealt with in the same system – as these are often the same children.

Teachers and support staff may already be familiar with the Children’s Hearings System. Teachers are regularly asked to provide information to the Children’s Reporter and may also be invited to attend Hearings.

If you haven’t had any dealings with the Children’s Hearings System before, this section should help you.

Ebook for Teachers

Ebook for teachers
In addition, we have created a new resource for trainee/newly qualified teachers – an interactive ebook which gives a brief overview of what happens at a Children’s Hearing and how teachers/education staff may become involved.  It also includes links to SCRA resources for children and young people which may be of assistance to teachers and education staff working with a child or young person who is coming to a Hearing for the first time.

How to make a referral

Polaroid picture of a young boy
Children and young people are referred to the Reporter from a number of sources, including police, social work, health and education.

They are referred because some aspect of their life is giving cause for concern. Most children and young people are referred on care and protection grounds. Only a small number are referred on offence grounds.

Some examples of grounds are; a lack of parental care, being the victim of a Schedule 1 offence (offences committed against a child), when there are concerns about a child's conduct, when they are misusing drugs or alcohol, when they fail to attend school or when they allegedly commit an offence. (View the full list of Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 S67 grounds).

Some of these grounds are written in legal terms which you may not be familiar with, but they generally cover situations where you have concerns for any aspect of the child’s welfare.

You might not realise, but anyone can make a referral, including concerned relatives or neighbours, and we do get referrals from teachers. In some areas of Scotland there is a multi-agency approach to referrals and there may be protocols already in existence in your area.

If you want to make a referral about a child in your class or school, all you need to do is write to the Reporter detailing your concerns. Details for local Reporter offices are available in the Contact Us section of our website.

The Reporter

The Reporter investigates each referral, assesses the evidence and determines whether compulsory measures of intervention are required.

If the Reporter receives a referral about a child in your class or your school, the Reporter is likely to contact you for some information as part of their wider investigation. They might ask about the child’s attendance at school, their behaviour, and whether outside influences are impacting on their schooling.

The Reporter will also ask other people in the child’s life for more information, such as the child’s social worker or family support worker.

If the Reporter decides that there is sufficient evidence to support one of the grounds listed in section 67 and that compulsory measures of intervention are required, a Children’s Hearing will be held.

Children's Hearings

Smiling girl
The Hearing (sometimes known as the Panel) consists of three Panel Members, all trained volunteers from the local community.

The Hearing is organised by the Children’s Reporter, who also attends the Hearing, but they do not take any part if the decision making. The decisions are taken by the three Panel Members. The Reporter is present to  support fair and legal process and to fulfil a statutory function, the main one being to keep a report of the proceedings.

Teachers routinely attend Children’s Hearings to provide information about children in their class or their school. The information provided by teachers and others at the Hearing, will help Panel Members make the right decision for the child or young person. The Hearings System aims to ensure that the best interests of the child are met, and that they receive the most appropriate intervention and support.

Your independent input is very important, based on your knowledge of the child and from seeing the child in class or school each day.

If the legal reasons for the child’s referral are accepted by the child and family, the Hearing listens to the child’s circumstances and then decides what measures are required. The child may require a particular type of treatment or intervention, they may be placed with foster carers, a residential unit or in secure accommodation.

The most likely outcome will be that the Hearing may decide that the child should remain at home with support from other agencies, such as social work on a Compulsory Supervision Order. They then become known as a Looked After Child.

You may be asked to attend future Hearings to provide up to date information on the child’s progress, for example, if they are on Supervision or subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order or an Interim Compulsory Supervision Order.

Going to court

If any grounds (facts) are disputed by the child or their parent/carers, you may be cited to appear in court as a witness if your testimony is key to matters which are disputed. The Reporter can provide you with more information about this.

More information?

More detailed information about the Children’s Hearings System, including frequently asked questions, is available on this website.

There is also a dedicated section for children and a separate section for young people.

You can view all of SCRA' Children and Young People's Information leaflets here.

If you have a question about a specific case, please contact your local Reporter. If they have been in touch with you, their contact details should be on the letter or email they sent to you.

If you have a general question, please contact communications@scra.gsi.gov.uk.

return to standard view