Panels 2018-03-12T14:47:30+00:00


The School Closure Review Panels were established by virtue of section 17A of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010.  On 30 March 2015 the Panels took over the responsibility from the Scottish Ministers of reviewing and determining education authority school closure decisions which are called in by the Scottish Ministers.

The Convener appoints persons eligible to be selected to serve as a member of a Panel for a period of up to five years and each individual is eligible for reappointment thereafter.  Currently there are ten persons eligible to be selected to serve as a member of a Panel.

Those persons eligible to be selected to serve form a pool from which the Convener is to select a Panel of three when a called-in closure decision is being referred to it.  The main statutory function of a Panel is to review a called in closure decision of an education authority and form a decision as described below.  One of the three members in a Panel is selected by the Convener to be the Chair of the Panel.  Each Panel is independent of other Panels, the Convener, the Scottish Government and any other bodies or individuals.

A particular Panel reviews the school closure decision by considering whether the authority has (i) failed significantly to comply with the requirements of the Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010; and (ii) whether the authority has failed to take proper account of a material consideration relevant to the decision.  In carrying out this review, the Panel may request further information from the local authority, and advice from Education Scotland (HMIE) or “any other person as it may reasonably require for the relevant purposes”.

The Panel does not be re-take the authority’s decision or consider any aspects of the closure apart from the two considerations set out above.  It is the local authority’s right to make a school closure decision, the Panel’s role is to ensure the decision has been taken in line with the law.

The conflicts of interest schedule for persons eligible to serve as members of the Panel may be viewed here.

Remuneration and Expenses

Panel members are entitled to receive a fee of £200 per day for every 7.5 devoted to performing their functions (as required) on a pro rata basis. Panel members are entitled to be reimbursed for expenses that are necessary or expedient for the proper discharge of their functions. Rates are equal to those set by the Scottish Government for its staff. This also applies to persons eligible to be selected to serve as a member of a Panel for time devoted to and expenses related to training arranged by the Convener.

Persons eligible to be selected to serve as a member of a Panel

Lesley Ward
Lesley WardPanel Member
Lesley is an experienced solicitor who spent 13 years in private practice as a family lawyer before being appointed as legal convener to the Mental Health Tribunal for Scotland in 2005. She was a tutor in family law at Strathclyde University for several years and is currently the chair of the investigation committee of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants. Lesley has a young family and was chair of their school’s parent council for two years until October 2014. She brings her considerable experience as a solicitor and parent to her role as a member of the School Closure Review Panels.
Patricia Susan Quigley
Patricia Susan QuigleyPanel Member
Patricia S. Quigley WS graduated in Law from Glasgow University in 1972 and has been a qualified Solicitor since 1974. She has worked in large and small legal firms, was a Local Authority Solicitor for 7 years and, for 26 years, ran her own legal practice in Edinburgh.

Previous appointments include Social Security Appeals Chairman, Member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal, Member of The Law Society of Scotland Immigration Accreditation Panel and Lay Member of the Scottish Dental Practice Board.

From 1997 till March 2015, she was a part-time Immigration and Asylum Judge sitting in Glasgow, Belfast and London.

She was formerly a member of the Law Society of Scotland Appeals and Reviews Sub-Committee.

Russell Ellerby
Russell EllerbyPanel Member
During the formative years of his career Russell held several senior management positions in construction culminating in the appointment to the Barcelona Olympic Games as project manager. In 1992 Russell moved to the public sector and in 1999 was given the remit by the Scottish Executive to create the first public private partnerships in Scotland for direct service provision in local government. Russell also led the team responsible for the successful delivery of one of the first projects for the construction and management of 23 new schools procured through PFI. This ground-breaking project was the first wholly bond funded project for schools procurement in the United Kingdom. Both of the above initiatives were recognised through industry awards for innovation. Prior to taking up the appointment on the School Closure Review Panel, Russell ran a successful business consultancy organisation and holds several non-executive directorships in the private and third sections.
Sally Wainwright
Sally WainwrightPanel Member
Sally has a wide ranging career within the public and voluntary sectors. She was Course Director of the Post-Graduate Housing Course at Edinburgh College of Art. Other teaching experience included lecturing on an HNC at Glasgow College and some short courses on humanitarian topics in secondary schools as a volunteer for the British Red Cross. As Learning and Access Manager at the Scottish Museums Council she advised museums on the new opportunities offered by the introduction of the Curriculum for Excellence. Sally was also a member of the Parent Council and the School Board at her daughter’s schools. Much of her other work has been focused on public consultation and participation, most recently at Falkirk Council, where she was responsible for the participation policy, and running the Citizens Panel. She sat on the Children’s Panel for 12 years, and since 2012 has been a Housing member of the Private Rented Housing Panel / Home Owning Panel.
Donald Gillies
Donald GilliesPanel Member
Donald has been Dean of the School of Education at the University of the West of Scotland since 2014. After a 20-year school teaching career in the west of Scotland, Professor Gillies moved into the university sector in 2005 when he took up a lecturing post at the University of Strathclyde. From 2012-14, he was Professor of Education Policy at York St John University. He lives in Glasgow but has strong family connections with the Highlands, and amongst his research publications has been a study of the role of schooling in fragile rural communities. A member of the European Educational Research Association, he is chairperson of the editorial board of the Scottish Educational Review, and serves on the General Teaching Council for Scotland.
Forbes Mitchell
Forbes MitchellPanel Member
Forbes is an experienced local government officer having held a number of senior posts in chief executive services, education and community services, and children’s services. He is also a qualified teacher and has used a wide range of strategies across public services and in the private sector to develop his expertise as a transformational change and improvement specialist. In addition he has worked closely with chief officers and elected members to develop policy and deliver strategic approaches to the sustainable provision of quality services in both local and national contexts. He now focuses on the delivery of excellence and seeks to ensure that those he works with deliver the best possible outcomes that have a positive impact.
Justin Willey
Justin WilleyPanel Member
Justin is a director of a Scottish software company. He studied engineering at Edinburgh University and subsequently worked in finance and publishing. He has been involved in school closure consultations for over ten years through the Scottish Rural Schools Network.
Helen McGhee
Helen McGheePanel Member
Helen was a senior manager in the Children & Families Department of a large local authority prior to her retirement in 2014. She is a graduate of Edinburgh Napier University where she attained her MBA. Helen has significant expertise in capital projects for new build schools, particularly in the Public Private Partnership and Scottish Futures Trust funded initiatives. In her role she was the lead officer for home to school transport, school meals and facility management of the PPP contracts. This involved consultation with all stakeholders, including the local community, staff, pupils and politicians. Throughout her career she has been passionate about change management, service development, role development and life long learning. She has led a number of successful initiatives over the years and took the lead role in the strategic development of all Facilities Management contracts within Children & Families to ensure best value.
Catriona Waddington
Catriona WaddingtonPanel Member
Catriona is a health economist who lives in Shetland and is a non-executive director of the local NHS Board. She works as an adviser in health economics in a variety of low-income countries including Ethiopia, Malawi and Ghana. She also has a particular interest in health care for island populations, and has recently worked in Tonga and Vanuatu in the Pacific. Catriona has two school-age daughters and has been involved on the parent councils of two remote, rural schools that have been affected by closure consultations. She lives on Scotland’s northernmost island, Unst.
Dr. Charles S. Bestwick
Dr. Charles S. BestwickPanel Member
Charles is a research scientist based at the Rowett Institute of Nutrition & Health, University of Aberdeen. His academic research interests encompass human and plant biology, but currently focus on the influence of whole diets on human health. A critically important part of his professional work is that of Programme Advisor for the Food Land & People Programme, one of the two arms of the Strategic Research Programme funded by the Rural Environment Science and Analytical Services Directorate of the Scottish Government. Additional and wholly separate to his professional work, Charles is a founder and continuing member of the Scottish Rural Schools Network. He has campaigned extensively for improved school closure consultation processes; including for greater understanding of the educational, socialisation and economic issues within rural education and the role of community based education in supporting community resilience. Charles was a Scottish Government appointed member of the Commission on Delivery of Rural Education (2012-2013).
Alison Cook
Alison CookPanel Member
Alison graduated in law from the University of Aberdeen in 1989 and obtained her Diploma in Legal Practice the following year. After qualifying she spent many years in private practice where she obtained a great deal of experience across a range of different areas of the law. In 2009 she moved to an in-house role in the public sector. She is currently senior solicitor with a statutory regulatory body. Alison has two teenage children.
Robin Johnston
Robin JohnstonPanel Member
After several years in private practice as a solicitor, Robin was appointed Senior Legal Officer of the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission. During his time at the Commission, Robin was responsible for reviewing the “ice cream wars” cases which resulted in the quashing of Thomas Campbell and Joseph Steele’s convictions for murder. He also led the team of solicitors which reviewed the conviction of Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, who was convicted in 2001 of the Lockerbie bombing.

Following his departure from the Commission, Robin spent several years as Director of Reviews at the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, before being appointed as Head of Legal at the Scottish Police Authority in 2016.

Robin has a Masters in Human Rights Law from the Glasgow Graduate School of Law. He has published a number of articles on criminal law and procedure, including in the Edinburgh Law Review, Scottish Criminal Law and the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland.