The Northern Districts Education Centre (Sydney) Churchill Fellowship to research best practice in the design and delivery of court education programs for school students

United Kingdom
The Northern Districts Education Centre (Sydney) Churchill Fellowship to research best practice in the design and delivery of court education programs for school students featured image

My Churchill Fellowship Court Education Project confirmed that countries through the common-law world are equally as concerned about the basic legal literacy of their young people. Court education is one of the fundamental strategies in which private organisations and courts are working to remedy this deficit. By promoting relevant and engaging programs which support building a more equitable and just legal system they are having a positive impact.

The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a change from an in-person traveling Fellowship to one conducted virtually using video conferencing platforms. 

17 organisations participated in the project with 20 online interviews primarily conducted over a 5 week period in January and February 2021. 

4 recommendations

  1. Linking organisational values, strategic goals and program evaluation to outcomes in a theory of change would assist governments, courts and other funders to support and integrate programs and better ensure their effectiveness.
  2. Court educators should be embedded in courts and other legal bodies. This would support the ‘institutionalisation’ of court education for school students and consistency in teacher professional development and improve legal literacy across the community.
  3. Professional collaboration between court education providers, legal institutions, professional bodies, schools and teachers is the key to innovation, evaluation of best practice and the sustainability of organisations and programs into the future.
  4. Adoption of an explicit best practice focus by court education organisations and institutions in Australia and internationally.

A best practice taxonomy was developed:

  • mapped to curriculum
  • explicitly linked to the learning outcomes in the relevant syllabuses
  • relevant to students’ interests, community and lived experience
  • promote engagement through a variety of pedagogical strategies
  • situated within a social context that promotes learning and positive experiences
  • developed collaboratively with stakeholders
  • promote diverse perspectives and experiences
  • staffed by personnel that are from the same cultural background and/or gender (where possible)
  • reflective of the community
  • honest and culturally sensitive when dealing with issues surrounding racial injustice
  • physically accessible to disabled students
  • available online in accessible formats
  • consultative of young people with disabilities
  • representative of the diversity of disability in the community

International programs will be shared with Australian courts and court education organisations which will allow for an expansion of court education offerings for Australian school students.

A conference will be held in Australia in late 2021 or early 2022 in which court educators, members of the legal profession and teachers will be able to present their research, discuss instituting best practice and collaborate on new projects. 


Jacqueline Charles

Jacqueline Charles


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