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Volunteers sought for school place appeals panels

09 October 2023

Volunteers are urgently needed to hear appeals when children are not offered a place at their preferred school.

All parents or carers have the right to make an appeal to an independent appeal panel if their child is not offered a place at their preferred school.

The role of the panel is to decide whether a child who has been refused a place by Cambridgeshire County Council should be given a place.

All parties involved must be given an appeal hearing that is transparent, accessible, independent and impartial.

The appeal panel is independent of the local authority and its decisions are binding on all parties, unless overturned by the courts.

Volunteers will sit on the independent admission appeal panels and ensure that parents feel they have had a fair and independent hearing and have been given every opportunity to put their case and have been taken seriously.

Panel members must be able to listen to two sides of a case and weigh up evidence objectively and impartially.

They must also be able to:

  • Communicate effectively with a wide range of people
  • Read and assess information and identify key points
  • Listen to key information
  • Ask questions to obtain information and clarify points being made
  • Analyse information and use it to form opinions and conclusions
  • Obtain and weigh up evidence to reach a decision
  • Work as part of a team, take advice and develop their own skills

All volunteer Panel Members receive initial and annual refresher training and will be fully supported by the Appeals Service.

The time commitment depends on how much time volunteers are willing to give. While appeals are held throughout the year, the peak months are between April and July. The appeals are arranged either for half a day or a full day.

Hearings are currently held online using Microsoft TEAMS.

Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee said: “Volunteering on appeals panels is rewarding and valuable work and greatly appreciated by all sides of an appeal. It is also the chance to learn new skills or develop existing ones, so the benefit is twofold. I would urge anyone who thinks they could offer this help to get in touch.”

Anyone interested in applying or who would like an informal chat about the role should contact