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School admission appeals panel volunteering

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. Volunteers are urgently needed to hear appeals when children are 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.

  • Are you interested in Education and want to get involved?
  • Do you have excellent listening skills?
  • Are you able to put people at ease and make balanced decisions?
  • Would you like to become involved in an important, impartial service provided to parents and schools?

If you have answered yes to any of the above, why not apply to become a Volunteer School Appeals Panel Member.

“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."

Cllr Bryony Goodliffe, Chair of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Children and Young People’s Committee

Comments from our current volunteers

“This is an opportunity to help children and schools whether you are experienced in the education sector or haven’t had any direct experience since you yourself were at school." Penny

“Coming from a primary school background, although retired, I feel that I can use this wide knowledge to ask pertinent questions of both parents and schools to gather relevant information and make well thought out and fair decisions." Sue

"Having now retired from full time employment, I feel privileged to have been given the chance to contribute in such an important role that has such an impact on parents, their children and the schools. The work is very rewarding, varied and requires an ability to make fair and reasonable judgements while seeking the views of the other panel members. The work is flexible and fits around my current commitments and I contribute when and as much as I want. I would recommend the role to anyone!" Steve

"I work part time in a job that doesn't involve much interaction with people, so volunteering for the appeals panel gives a great balance to that, as well as obviously being able to contribute & meet different people (virtually anyway). Experienced panel members were always very supportive while learning the ropes!" Phil

Panel member duties include:

  • Reading appeal packs before hearings. Cases are made by the admission authority, school and the parent/ guardian or carer. This will ensure to the panel member understands these cases completely.
  • Considering the written evidence in advance of the meeting, and drafting questions you may wish raise.
  • Attending appeal hearings as well as pre- and post-meeting deliberations.
  • Listening to both cases made during the appeals hearing and making a judgement on the evidence heard and previously received.
  • Taking an active part in appeal hearings including making notes and asking questions. As well as contributing to the outcomes and decisions of appeals.

  • Good interpersonal and communication skills
  • Good literacy and listening skills.
  • Able to remain firm and calm.
  • Integrity
  • Fairness
  • Be able to analyse information and use it to form opinions and conclusions.
  • Obtain and weigh up evidence to reach a non-bias decision.
  • Appreciation of everyone’s differing circumstances and backgrounds
  • Ability to work with other panel members.

Volunteers can either be ‘experienced in education’ or ‘lay’ but cannot work for the local authority. They must also be able to consider cases impartially and independently.

This can vary depending on the level of commitment you wish to give.

While appeals are held throughout the year, the peak months are between May and July. The appeals are arranged so that they are heard for half a day or a full day depending on the number of appeals received.

Hearings are currently held virtually through Microsoft teams.

Yes, unless you are a Cambridgeshire County Councillor or an employee of the Council.

Other exemptions apply depending on the school being appealed for.

Yes, all volunteer Panel Members receive full initial training and further refresher training as and when required, they will be fully supported by the Appeals Service.

Panel members provide a particularly important volunteer service which is unpaid. However, panel members are entitled to some expenses such as travel when attending training and hearings face to face. Generally, however, all our training and hearings are held via teams.

I’m interested, how do I apply?

If you are interested in applying or who would like an informal chat about the role, please contact Clare Cronk at