News & Events
Lawyers go back to school in Cumbria
29 May 2012
Nicola Hartley, solicitor for South Lakeland DC updates us on how the volunteer lawyers programme working with school children is developing in Cumbria for the final session of the current academic year.
We returned to school on Thursday 26th April for our last session looking at Human Rights.
This topic generated the most discussion and debate of all 6 sessions. The materials given to us by the Citizenship Foundation are excellently devised to stimulate such debate. For example we gave the pupils various statements to consider such as “Killing is wrong” and then asked the pupils to say where they think this statement should sit on a matrix containing key points such as “in every case”, “in almost every case” and “in some cases”. What is fascinating is observing how the pupils (and volunteer lawyers) often have a gut reaction to say “killing is wrong”, “in every case” section of the matrix.
As the discussion develops, pupils and lawyers may shift slightly and may move their position on the matrix. Indeed one of my pupils immediately insightfully commented, “does this mean killing of humans? or does this include killing animals?” This is a really interesting point and often can shift the emphasis of the debate. It is easy to talk for a full hour just on one issue! What has been so interesting and stimulating about the Lawyers in Schools Scheme has been the committed interaction and participation of the pupils in each and every session, the time flies by and is so enjoyable and the lawyers learn so much from it. Being able to hear the pupils perspectives on various aspects of the law and hearing what the pupils think of human rights and other issues is the key to the scheme’s success.
We went on to consider the 3 absolute human rights and those human rights that may be affected by particular circumstances such as the right to respect for home and family life and considered different practical examples of where 2 parties may have competing human rights. The pupils were all spot on in identifying the competing human rights each time.
Our Celebration Event took place in the Town Hall of South Lakeland District Council on 1st May at 1:30. All 24 pupils attended, including Carla Barker, Head of Life Skills and the Head Teacher of Kirkbie Kendal, Mr Philip Hyman. Mrs Hilary Stephenson, Acting Leader of South Lakeland District Council thanked all the lawyers and pupils who had taken part and thanked Kirkbie Kendal School for making all the volunteer lawyers feel so welcome. The Chair of Cumbria County Council also attended and thanked everyone including both Council’s and all volunteer lawyers for taking part.
Councillor Stephenson talked about the great example of both SLDC and Cumbria County working together for the good of the community each serve and giving something back to the community by lawyers giving up their time for free to engage with pupils to talk about such diverse subjects as human rights, employment, police powers and youth justice.
The pupils were each presented with a certificate to commemorate their participation in the scheme. South Lakeland District Council also purchased ‘Young Citizen’s Passport’ books from the Citizenship Foundation in order to give to the pupils as a keepsake from the scheme. These great little books contain a really useful guide for young people relating to the law in England and Wales. I’ve attached a few photos from our Celebration Event, including one of me, Carla and one of our pupils and a group one of everyone, I’m the only on the group photo with my eyes closed!
I would encourage anyone interested in getting involved in the scheme to do so, you won’t regret it and it is immensely rewarding and so very enjoyable.
Fantastic news, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria County Council are joining together again with Kirkbie Kendal school in the next academic year to run the Lawyers in School scheme for the next batch of willing and eager pupils, so more from the blog then.
Nicola Hartley, solicitor, South Lakeland DC