My day discussing discrimination with school students and solicitors

I spent part of Tuesday 31 January in a school in central London, joining Santander and Ashurst’s fourth session at Maria Fidelis School. Santander is in their third year of taking part in the project, and Ashurst joined them this year. I sat with a volunteer lawyer in a class of about thirty Year 10 (ie 14 or 15 years old) girls.

Using the Citizenship Foundation’s excellent Lawyers in Schools materials, I found myself discussing the finer points of discrimination law. We worked our way through some case studies and the challenge was to work out whether, in each case, the law on discrimination had been broken or not. Among the things we all learnt were:

  • Discrimination can happen on the basis of any of the equalities measures – race/ethnicity, gender, religion/belief, sexual orientation, ability/disability and age;
  • Sometimes it is difficult to prove discrimination in a court of law;
  • There’s a difference between having our feelings hurt and the law being broken. In other words, not all prejudiced behaviour is against the law.

It made a great difference to have six volunteers with the class. In a positive way it soaked up the attention, energy and interest of these bright girls. Extra adults in a class is one of the big bonuses from the school’s point of view.

In a lively, yet very thoughtful way we also discussed the rights and wrongs of sacking Andy Gray and Richard Keys. I was in a minority of one!!!

Thanks very much to the school, for hosting us… to the Santander volunteers …. and to the fantastic Year 10 girls. We all enjoyed ourselves and learnt a lot. Every school should have this CF programme!

Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

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