Law education project set for expansion in Scotland
An innovative legal education programme is set for expansion in Scottish schools.
Following the success of the Law Society of Scotland’s pilot programme, schools across the country from Aberdeen to Ayrshire have signed up to take part in Street Law, which aims to bring the law to life in the classroom by teaching pupils about how the law applies to them through interactive workshop sessions.
Street Law was launched in Scotland by the Law Society last autumn, with five Glasgow schools and three schools in West Lothian taking part in the pilot scheme. Now a further 23 schools in the North East, Perth and Kinross, Edinburgh, East Lothian, West Lothian, Glasgow and South Ayrshire have signed up to Street Law. (full list below)
“It’s probably the first time a Law Society training session has been described as ‘absolute dyno’ but that was the response from one of the pupils taking part in Street Law,” said Rob Marrs, senior policy officer in the Law Society of Scotland’s training and education team.
“All of the feedback we have had from teachers and pupils has been incredible. As a result of the hard work and enthusiasm of our first Street Law trainers – who are all currently studying law at university - and the pupils taking part, other schools across the country are now keen to get involved.
“We want the pupils taking part to realise that law isn’t some alien concept for other people but actually something that affects them every day. Street Law teaches practical aspects of the law, rather than the ‘black letter law’ that solicitors and advocates learn, which is relevant to the pupils’ lives. The sessions are engaging and fun but at the same time really stretch them intellectually.”
Following training sessions with the Law Society, the student trainers work with the schools to design a series of lessons for their classes.
Marrs said: “We’ve been lucky enough to get funding from the Legal Education Foundation to help with the training costs of Street Law which included getting Sean Arthurs from Harvard and Efrain Marimon from Georgetown, the home of Street Law and where the world’s most extensive programme is organised, to lead a training weekend at the Law Society. They were really inspiring and full of great ideas and advice for our new Street Law trainers.
“The law students involved have been incredibly creative, with lessons spanning human rights, constitutional law, domestic abuse, and mock trials, but the pupils are the ones who really make Street Law happen as they drive the content and course of the lessons. So, rather than learning ‘this is what a trial looks like’ pupils are asked to take part in a mini-trial, with everyone having a role to play, or they may be asked to form juries to look at a real case and evaluate the evidence.
“The students also get a huge amount from being part of Street Law. They have to be able to distil their legal knowledge to be able to explain it in class and in addition make it interesting and interactive for a group of young people. They also have to know the law inside out because they can be sure that they’ll get asked awkward questions. All skills that will be useful whether they go on to practise law or move into another profession – we may yet see a few of our trainers jump ship and become teachers!”
Edinburgh University law student Rona Macleod was a Street Law trainer at St Kentigern’s in West Lothian. She said: “I have really enjoyed my time as a Street Law trainer. The whole process of planning a lesson, getting everything ready and executing that lesson is very rewarding. Though the prospect of standing up and teaching a class of pupils can be a bit daunting, when the lesson you've put time and energy into creating is successful, and you feel that you've taught the pupils something useful, it's a great feeling.
“The extent to which the pupils were thinking about the issues and their analysis really impressed me, and they seemed to really enjoy the lesson. What was really great was that when the bell rang the pupils were still talking about the lesson.”
Robbie Jones, who is studying law at Glasgow University, said: “I thoroughly enjoyed the experience from the training weekend to the teaching itself. The expert insight and enthusiasm shown from the trainers and the staff at the Law Society of Scotland got me extremely excited to start taking lessons. Once we arrived at Lochend Community High School in Glasgow we were immediately impressed by the attentiveness of the class and their excellent contributions to class discussions.
ENDS 2 FEBRUARY 2015
Notes to editors
New schools signed up for Street Law are:
- Bucksburn Academy
- Kincorth Academy
- Torry Academy
- Aberdeen Grammar School
- Webster's High School (Angus)
- Kinross High School (Perth & Kinross)
- Kyle Academy (South Ayrshire)
Edinburgh/East Lothian/West Lothian
- Liberton High School (Edinburgh)
- Forrester High School (Edinburgh)
- Gracemount High School (Edinburgh)
- St Augustine's (Edinburgh)
- Leith Academy (Edinburgh)
- Musselburgh Grammar (East Lothian)
- Preston Lodge (East Lothian)
- Knox Academy (East Lothian)
- West Calder High School (West Lothian)
- James Young Academy (West Lothian)
- Bathgate Academy (West Lothian)
- Holyrood High (Glasgow)
- Whitehill Secondary School (Glasgow)
- Jordanhill High School (Glasgow)
- Bellahouston Academy (Glasgow)
- Govan High School (Glasgow)
Schools involved in Street Law pilot 2014:
- Castlemilk High School
- Eastbank Academy
- Lochend Community High School
- St Paul’s High School
- St Roch’s Secondary School
- Bathgate Academy
- Broxburn Academy
- Deans Community High School
- James Young High School
- St Kentigern’s Academy, Blackburn
- St Margaret’s Academy, Livingston