We should no more think it acceptable for a young person to leave school without an understanding of the legal justice system than we should consider it ok for them to leave school without being competent in reading and writing or arithmetic. Basic understanding of our legal framework – our rights and responsibilities, and how to access justice when things go wrong – is a key life-skill for people in a democratic society.
Yet in so many of our schools, children and young people don’t get the legal education they need. It’s not necessarily the school’s fault. We all know that schools are under incredible pressure to focus on a narrow band of subjects, and to obsess about exam results and Ofsted reports.
We’ve long called for the need for the education system to take a more rounded approach – making sure that schools don’t neglect the key skills for life and work, including the knowledge, skills and confidence young people need to be active citizens.
The Bach Commission has recently published its final report on The Right to Justice – and I’m really pleased that it has backed this approach. One of its recommendations (pp40-42) is,
“There should be a new responsibility on Ofsted to assess in greater depth how well schools prepare children for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. Government should also better support and facilitate the development of relationships between schools and organisations who are working to improve legal capability.”