The Scottish Arbitration Centre has agreed to provide administrative services to the new School Closures Review Panels.
School closure proposals from local authorities that have been called in under the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 are currently determined by the Scottish Ministers, who review whether or not the statutory obligations have been met and determine the school closure. Amendments made by the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 will change that process so that school closure proposals that are called in by Scottish Ministers will be referred to the Convener of the School Closure Review Panels. The Convener will be required to constitute a School Closure Review Panel to determine each individual case. So, from 30 March, panels of three, drawn from the eleven members, will be responsible for determining reviews of school closure decisions in Scotland.
Iain Nisbet, the Convener of School Closure Review Panels, was appointed in January. Mr Nisbet is the Head of Education Law at Govan Law Centre, where he advises and provides training for parents, schools and education authorities on all aspects of education law. Last week he announced the names of eleven members of the Panel. They are Dr Charles Bestwick; Russell Ellerby; Professor Donald Gillies; Helen McGhee; Forbes Mitchell; Alex Nicoll; Patricia Susan Quigley; Dr Catriona Waddington; Sally Wainwright; Lesley Ward; and Justin Willey.
Andrew Mackenzie, Chief Executive of the Centre, said:
“We look forward to working with the Convener and the Panels, which have been created to enhance and strengthen the process of local authority school closures in Scotland. Providing administrative services to the Convener and the Panels will also allow the Centre to develop possible models for the provision of such services for disputes in the future. Furthermore, taking on this work means additional resources for the Centre. In addition to Kate Murphy, who replaced Charlotte Lelong in August, we welcomed Marius Nåvik to the team in January. Katie Hislop has also been seconded from the Scottish Government for a limited period to assist with this new work.”