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5 December, 2007

Bar Council calls for law-related education to be firmly in the National Curriculum

The Citizenship Foundation welcomes the recently published final report of the Working Party on Entry to the Bar (led by Law Lord Neuberger), which includes calls for a stronger law component in the National Curriculum.

The Citizenship Foundation is encouraged by its championing of the Foundation's mock trials, and by the report's call for a stronger law component in the National Curriculum.

Winners of the 2006-2007 Bar National Mock Trial Competition.
Winners of the Bar Mock Trial Competition in 2007
Tony Breslin, Chief Executive at the Citizenship Foundation commented:

"The Bar Council is amongst our longest standing partners, which reflects our history, having grown out of the Law in Education project. We welcome the call to strengthen the place of law on the school timetable and the concept of a dedicated module, which we would see sited within the Citizenship curriculum. We are also grateful for their endorsement of our programmes. The Bar National Mock Trial Competition, commended in the report and now in its seventeenth year, is among the jewels in our crown. Even so we are only scratching the surface of the demand for law-related education with the 160 schools who can participate in the competition. Insecurity over funding limits our ability to extend the benefits of these programmes more widely. Therefore we welcome the report's call to extend law-related education, and hope that both private funders and the government will see this report as an endorsement of our call for adequate and sustainable investment in this critical yet over-looked area.

Tony Breslin continued:

We have developed a highly regarded programme bringing lawyers into classrooms which we are seeking to roll out nationally, but we can only do a limited amount with limited resources. Likewise, our award winning guide to the law, the Young Citizen's Passport, provides an excellent basis for understanding everyday law and the rights and responsibilities of citizens - in and beyond the classroom. Getting a copy to every 16 year old in the country might provide a further catalyst in opening up the secret garden of the legal profession to a far wider range of young people. Life and Law in Britain; a guide for young asylum seekers and refugees, a focussed adaptation of the Young Citizen's Passport, was in such high demand that we went through the print run in five weeks, and were funding available, we could respond to the continuing demand. The profession - and all of us - would have much to gain from such moves towards a more legally literate society, of which a more diverse and inclusive Bar would be just one outcome."

Further information

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Notes for editors:

The Law in Education project was launched in 1984 by lawyer Andrew Phillips with the support of teachers, Don Rowe and Tony Thorpe. In 1989 the organisation was re-constituted as the Citizenship Foundation, with a wider remit embracing Citizenship Education and the development of opportunities for participation and effective citizenship.

164 schools are participating this year in the Bar National Mock Trial, with roughly the same number again waiting in reserve, and 400 schools involved in the Magistrates' Court Mock Trials; the equivalent project for younger secondary school students.

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