Judicial Question Time for schools

Listen to a panel of judges answering questions put to them by a school’s live audience. Topics include knife crime, the impact of artificial intelligence on the justice system, human rights law on leaving the EU, and the variety of work undertaken by a judge.

Following the schools initiative launched by the Lord Chief Justice in Suffolk, a lot has been happening to encourage more children to visit the courts.

Work has also been taking place to get more judges into schools to explain the justice system and bust some of the myths around what it is to be a judge.

The Judicial Office’s diversity team organised a School’s Question Time event in collaboration with the National Justice Museum, which has a base in the Royal Courts of Justice, and Young Citizens which is the largest charity involved in public legal education in the UK.

The event was held in Court 4 of the RCJ and there was great excitement as the children arrived to partake.

Lady Justice Heather Hallett chaired the panel. She was joined by Mrs Justice Cutts, Deputy Lead Diversity and Community Relations Judge Tan Ikram and DCRJs HHJ Angela Morris and REJ Fiona Monk.

Youngsters from eight local schools attended and put forward a range of questions, from describing a typical day as a judge to whether or not judges have a future with the advancement of artificial intelligence.

When the children were interviewed after the event, it was very clear to see their perceptions of the judiciary had changed in a positive direction from this single event.

Here is a six-minute video with some highlights of the event:

Please visit our YouTube page (external link) to watch an hour-long version of the event.

Note to teachers: Questions are time-marked as you may wish to use some of the topics for group discussions (see attachment below).

The judges imparted a lot of useful advice to the school’s audience and Lady Justice Hallett emphasised the importance of effective communication irrespective of what career path is chosen.

“No matter what your background, if you are good enough and have the right qualities, we want you” – Lady Justice Heather Hallett

She spoke about:

  • the art of communication and its importance to success
  • how to persist with your dreams
  • staying professional in the most trying of circumstances
  • qualities needed to be a judge such as good listening skills and resilience
  • being aware of personal barriers you may put up which may thwart your progress or undermine your confidence
  • and making the most of your opportunities.

The overall message is that, if you have the talent and qualities needed and determination to succeed, then irrespective of your background, a judicial career is open to you, alongside a wide range of other careers in the law and the justice system.

Given the success of this event, it is something we hope to replicate in the regions.