Christina Robotham and Sue Charles
Christina Robotham and Sue Charles

Volunteers are being sought to help hear school admission appeal cases.

Staffordshire County Council’s specialist panels mark legally binding decisions when parents feel their children have been offered an unsuitable school place.

Hundreds of appeals are heard each year with the panels reliant on independent volunteers to help make final decisions.

Participants do not need to have an educational background and training is offered.

Christina Robotham, from Lichfield, has been a school admissions appeal volunteer for 15 years. She said:

“As a retired teacher, I wanted to do something that would keep my brain active, and actually help people.

“Being on the panel allows me to engage with a diverse group of people, and make new friends along the way.

“This role is about fairness, and taking everyone’s views into account whist applying guidance. Anyone who volunteers will have training and help along the way, and I’d encourage anyone who is a good listener, and has an open mind, to apply.”

Christina Robotham

Sue Charles, also from Lichfield, used to work in a pharmacy for the NHS. She said:

“This is completely different to anything I’ve ever been involved in.

“I think this is a very necessary role – I see people from all walks of life and the challenges they face, and it’s important that we can scrutinise decisions.

“I would say that anyone with an interest in education who is a team player should apply. It’s really rewarding.”

Sue Charles

To find out more about volunteering, contact the admissions appeal team at [email protected].

Staffordshire County Council’s cabinet member for education, Cllr Jonathan Price, said:

“Although we allocate places using our admission criteria, there are always cases where a parent feels their school place offer is unsuitable.

“Volunteers on our school admissions appeal panel play a vital role in ensuring that appeals are heard fairly, and both sides of a case are listened to before making a reasoned decision.

“We are always on the lookout for new volunteers, whether they have experience in education or not. All we ask for is an open mind and a willingness to learn, and I would urge anyone interested to email our school admissions appeals team to find out more.”

Cllr Jonathan Price, Staffordshire County Council

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.

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