On Monday this week, Lord Burnett of Maldon, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, visited Plume Academy in Maldon to meet students and talk to them about the work of judges, the justice system and the rule of law. He was accompanied by HHJ Sandy Canavan, HHJ Karen Walden-Smith, Tribunal Judge Ita Farrelly and magistrate Dippy.
Pupils at the school engaged in a lively Q&A session with the judges about their roles and responsibilities. They asked the Lord Chief Justice about his favourite aspects of the job, what it means to be a Privy Counsellor, and his career highlights. The judges were impressed by the students’ level of participation in the session.
This community outreach work aims to make students aware that a legal career is accessible to all, regardless of background. It also seeks to dispel common misconceptions about judges, giving young people an understanding of what their day-to-day roles entail.
Speaking at the college, the Lord Chief Justice said:
“The rule of law is fundamental to our British way of life. Every day, many thousands of judges make decisions which affect people’s lives, and their livelihoods. But most people have little idea of what goes on unless they find themselves in the system.
I want to make it easier for schools to help teach pupils about the justice system, and how it really works – I want to invite students to talk to us about our work. We already know that having a discussion with a real judge is very popular with school students. I want to make this opportunity more widely available to schools by asking them to consider inviting judges to visit and give them access to other resources that support their curriculum, and their careers conversations with students.
There are judges from all walks of life and at many various levels in courts and tribunals. I also want to send the message to all students, from whatever background, they could be the lawyers and judges of the future.”Lord Burnett, the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
This visit is just one example of the work that scores of Diversity and Community Relations Judges (DCRJs) and Diversity and Community Relations Magistrates (DCRMs) do in the community.
The Schools Engagement Programme is supported by a selection of online resources available on the judiciary’s website: https://www.judiciary.uk/about-the-judiciary/diversity/schools-engagement/. These include handouts, lesson plans for teachers and other materials to help schools facilitate learning about the justice system and rule of law.
Schools who are interested in a judge delivering an interactive session to students can find out more information by completing this online form or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also read about previous school visits by visiting our case studies page.