This week sees the fourth of five visits made by groups of the University’s law students to St. Peter’s Primary School in Market Bosworth, as part of a Higher Education Academy funded project that seeks to engage law students in ‘developing legal literacy’ with children aged 7 to 11. At the beginning of the academic year, students received training from citizenship education experts Don Rowe and Tony Thorpe, from professional story-teller Alison Davies, and from Ralph Wood, the Head teacher of St. Peter’s and a Leicester University Law graduate. Students then worked independently to create five workshops for school, each designed to help children to learn more about law and about their legal standing.
The students’ first visit was designed around the theme of animal rights, a topic that many of the children can closely associate with. They learned too about the Dangerous Dogs Act (assisted by the much-acclaimed performance by our project co-ordinator Dr Maribel Canto-Lopez, playing the role of the dog). Next the children learned more about their own rights as citizens and also more specifically about their rights as children, under the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. In workshop three, children learned about defamation and acted out various scenarios, before considering whether these might amount to libel or slander. Next up is negligence, looking especially at what it means to be owed a ‘duty of care’. We will finish the visits with the mock trial of Goldilocks; where children will learn about the roles and responsibilities of trial participants; what the age of criminal responsibility is, and that ignorance of the law is no defence.
The project has been very much ‘student led’. Students determined the areas that they wanted to cover with the children and designed their workshops independently. And at a relatively early stage, they replaced the rather long-winded title of the project from ‘Developing legal literacy with children in Key Stage 2’ with its new title; ‘the Leicester Legal Eagles project’. Calling upon favours from family and friends (thank you Kirsty’s sister), they have even adopted their own logo. One of the aims of the project is to develop some materials that can be further developed and used in a wider number of schools in the future – particularly schools targeted by the University as part of its widening participation strategy. With a great deal of energy and commitment, our law students have created some very firm foundations for the future development of this project.