Following a really successful pilot scheme in 2014, the Law Society of Scotland’s Street Law programme is expanding again this year with new schools in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee signing up to the scheme.
There are currently more than 40 schools on the Street Law program and the numbers are increasing. So in October we trained up 47 more law students, taking the total to over 100 students ready to deliver lessons in schools.
The latest group, made up of students from all 10 of the LLB providing universities across Scotland, arrived energised and dedicated and we once again welcomed Professor Arthurs from Harvard Law School who facilitated the Street Law training session in January. He was joined by Melinda Cooperman, another Street Law veteran from American University in Washington.
When the students arrived they were asked to complete a survey which asked how confident they felt about teaching a lesson to school pupils and how comfortable they would be making a legal issue more interesting for school pupils. The survey also measured how much they felt they already knew about teaching.
We gave them the same survey at the end of the weekend training course, and the differences in the answers given showed how far the students felt they improved in a few short days.
When asked to describe their training experience, most students felt it was interesting, engaging and challenging.
A word cloud showing adjectives used by students to describe their training weekend.
Keeping it relevant
A particular focus over the course of the training was to show how a Street Law lesson can make the law relevant to a new audience and put it into context for the pupils.
YouTube protest videos, hip-hop songs and polls undertaken via smartphones were all used during the weekend to encourage pupils to think critically about their rights and responsibilities under the law.
Topical issues, such as gang violence, freedom of speech, positive discrimination and social media abuse, encouraged the students to think about what might be particularly relevant to school pupils. Pictures of refugees fleeing Germany during the Second World War were compared with refugees leaving Syria in boats in 2015 and we talked about how these types of comparisons could encourage pupils to think about how public attitudes can shift and change over time.
Sharing best practice
The weekend also marked the return of some Street Lawyers who taught in the pilot scheme. Paul Pattison, Kat Auld, Danielle McLean and Paul Cruikshank were all on hand over the weekend to offer support, guidance and some useful “What I wish I had known before…” advice. The experienced Street Law trainers also gave a lesson on human rights and discussed if it is ever justifiable to allow the death of some to save more lives.
They were also there to help the law students to create their own first lessons – I know they can’t wait to get started.Laura Gulliver is a member of the Law Society of Scotland's Education & Training team To find out more about the Society’s Street Law programme, visit www.lawscot.org.uk/education-and-careers/schools/street-law/