Friday, September 03, 2010

Holyrood Petition launched to promote education of justice, legal & consumer rights in Scots secondary school curriculum

Debating chamberScottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee to consider education of legal & consumer rights in schools. A PUBLIC PETITION promoting education of justice, legal & consumer rights in Scotland’s secondary schools has been lodged at the Scottish Parliament by Perth based law reform campaigner Mr Stewart MacKenzie, whose successful McKenzie Friends Petition 1247 brought forward the system of lay assistance used in courts around the world since 1970 to our very own Scots legal system this year after a year long campaign at Holyrood, which I reported on in more detail HERE.

Petition PE 1354 introducing Justice Legal & Consumer Rights Education into Scottish secondary school curriculum Petition 1354 calls for the education of justice, legal & consumer rights to Scots children. With children in England & Wales already ahead of their Scots counterparts in receiving education of legal & consumer rights, Mr MacKenzie’s petition calls “on the Scottish Parliament to urge the Scottish Government to introduce ‘citizenship’ as a compulsory element of the secondary school curriculum and which covers knowledge and an understanding of consumers' rights, the roles, duties and responsibilities of the legal profession and the different courts systems in relation to civil justice and also human rights legislation”.

Mr MacKenzie commented further in his petition on the apparent lack of will in the current Scottish Government’s education plans to follow the English education system in teaching legal & consumer rights to secondary school pupils, saying : “I have contacted the Learning Directorate, Curriculum Division, of the Scottish Government and received the details of what is currently provided in the Scottish education system. They have confirmed that although the matter of citizenship ‘may’ be touched upon in secondary schools, it is not a compulsory element of the Scottish curriculum and, if it is covered by individual schools, it is very basic and does not cover the topics recommended by the petitioner.”

Mr MacKenzie continued : “All Scottish school pupils, within their secondary education, would greatly benefit from, for example, knowledge and an understanding of consumers’ rights, the role, duties and responsibilities of the legal profession in Scotland, the purpose and role of the different courts systems in relation to civil justice in Scotland and also human rights legislation, all of which would install this much needed knowledge and give confidence to young people, so that they are ready to face issues which they will incur in everyday life after leaving school and avoid many of the pitfalls of modern, everyday life.”

“In the English education system a learning course covering these issues has been statutory since 2002. The ‘citizenship’ element of the National Curriculum in England gives teaching and learning of the key areas which the petitioner describes but which are lacking in the Scottish education system and whilst within the Scottish education system citizenship is covered to a very limited degree, it is not a compulsory element of the curriculum and does not cover the areas which are described in this petition and which Citizens Advice Scotland describes as being desperately needed by all Scottish secondary school leavers.”

In England & Wales, schoolchildren have for some time, received “Citizenship Education” as a compulsory course, which covers issues such as democracy & justice, & rights & responsibilities, described on the TeacherNet website as follows :

Democracy and justice — This focuses on the role that citizens can take within the political and justice systems in the UK. It includes: freedom as part of a democracy; fairness and the rule of law as part of justice; power and authority; and accountability. Pupils learn that accountability happens at many levels ranging from a responsible opposition in parliament challenging, testing and scrutinising what Government is doing, to citizens in local communities challenging decisions that affect them.

Rights and responsibilities — There are different kinds of rights, obligations and responsibilities — political, legal, human, social, civic and moral. Pupils explore contested areas surrounding rights and responsibilities, for the checks and balances needed in relation to freedom of speech in the context of threats from extremism and terrorism.

ScottishGovernmentThe Scottish Government introduced the recent Curriculum for Excellence in Scotland, although omitted legal & consumer rights. The Scottish Government’s recent “Curriculum for Excellence”, more about which can be viewed at the Engage for Education website apparently does not include anywhere near the same level of education on justice, legal & consumer affairs for Scots schoolchildren, leaving the feeling Scots kids are being left in the dark while their English counterparts receive a much wider, more responsible view of the world around them.

The move by legal campaigner Mr MacKenzie to ensure Scots secondary school pupils receive equivalent or even better education on legal & consumer affairs, which already received by pupils in England & Wales, is backed by consumer organisations such as Which?, and Consumer Focus Scotland who have long held views on the subject of a public legal education strategy, featured in their recent report : Making Civil Justice Work for Consumers

Consumer Focus Scotland - A Public Legal Education StrategyConsumer Focus Scotland also advocate a public legal education strategy. Consumer Focus Scotland said in their report “If consumers are to be able to access legal services, and make informed choices about which services best meet their needs, they need to be able to a) recognise they have a problem, b) recognise the problem has a potential legal remedy, & c) identify a course of action to pursue that remedy, be it taking action themselves, or seeking help from an appropriate source” – issues which could be greatly helped by a compulsory course in Scottish schools for pupils on justice, legal & consumer rights subjects.

The Consumer Focus Scotland report went onto state : “In other jurisdictions, public legal education (PLE) is seen as an important tool to help consumers navigate these stages. It is a tool not only to improve consumers’ knowledge of their rights, remedies and means of redress, but also to build their skills and confidence so that they possess sufficient ‘legal capability’ to act upon this knowledge. This could be about giving them the knowledge and confidence to reach the appropriate adviser at the appropriate time to help them resolve their problem(s), or it could be equipping them with the necessary skills to take action themselves.”

The report goes onto state Consumer Focus Scotland “believe the development of a Scotland-wide public legal education strategy to be fundamental to efforts to improve access to justice for consumers.”

Sarah O’Neill, Head of Policy for Consumer Focus Scotland commented on the moves at Holyrood saying : “While we have not seen the detail of the petition, and cannot comment on this at this stage, we would be supportive in principle of any initiative to include coverage of some of these issues in the school curriculum.”

Ms Neil continued : “We have long been supportive of the concept of public legal education, and have a particular interest in looking at ways of developing people’s legal capability, by increasing their skills and confidence, allowing them to recognise when they have a legal problem, any legal rights they may have in relation to that problem, and identifying a course of action to resolve that problem. This is set out in more detail in our recent publication making Civil Justice Work for Consumers.”

Educating our children on issues of justice, legal & consumer rights is obviously an essential part of growing up, and since the rest of the UK has long recognised this, it is surely time for Scotland to follow suit. After all, we have regular announcements of Scottish Government Ministers attempting to cut crime & break the cycle of crime many people find themselves trapped in by providing offenders with more of the skills they need to live positive lives, so why not go a step further and teach Scots schoolchildren about justice, the legal system & consumer rights at school level .. it may do a lot more good for our nation’s future ….

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

All very laudable but rather misses the target and hits the wall.

We know that the Scottish Public are effectively denied any meaningful or proper access to justice daily - anything that distracts from attempts to remedy that simply assists those who would maintain the status quo.

Anonymous said...

Well its a great little earner for lawyers if you think of it this way ;

Keep the populace in the dark about consumer/legal/civil rights and they will always have to spend money on lawyers to do the job for them.

If on the other hand you educate at school level then students might just take some of it in and as they grow up not be so dependant on lawyers for things they should know about anyway (and much of which boils down to common sense)

If its good for England & Wales I'm sure Scotland's vintage justice system could do with a dose of it!

Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Good petition although it shows up Scotland again.If a member of the public doesn't raise the idea nothing ever gets done.
Good luck to Mr MacKenzie and I'm sure you will keep us well informed about the petition's progress.

Anonymous said...

Can't help feeling this energy would be much more effectively directed at Ending self regulation, Ending the Law Society's exemption from the FOI Act, introducing Class Actions, Access to transcripts etc etc.

Anonymous said...

"Keep the populace in the dark about consumer/legal/civil rights and they will always have to spend money on lawyers to do the job for them.

If on the other hand you educate at school level then students might just take some of it in and as they grow up not be so dependant on lawyers for things they should know about anyway (and much of which boils down to common sense)"

SPOT ON !!! and just why are the Scottish Government NOT teaching these subjects to our kids ???

Anonymous said...

last comment at 5.47pm

Yes it does show Scotland up again !

Keeping us in the dark about our legal rights benefits the business of the legal profession !

Anonymous said...

Very interesting as always.I also read your handiwork on another topic today.I'm sure you know what I am referring to.I hadn't realised until reading it that one cannot escape a Cherbi investigation even in death!

Anonymous said...

Great idea and so simple it makes me wonder why nothing has been done along these lines already although reading the comments I now understand why

I support the petition

Anonymous said...

Citizenship in political terms means equality in public and recognizing difference in private.

The reality is that lawyers blocking access to justice leaves some members of the public rightless so they are NOT full citizens.

Anonymous said...

Great idea as far as I am concerned simply due to the fact my son is interested in how the law and justice system works after giving his laptop over to me many times to read your blog.Bravo to Mr McKenzie and also yourself for giving his petition the publicity it deserves.

Anonymous said...

Good to see Consumer Focus Scotland supporting it but I'd like to ask will it take the parliament another year like with the McKenzie friends thing to do something ?

Anonymous said...

Self regulation encourages repeat offending because lawyers know they can get away with their corruption.

Anonymous said...

One has to question how much knowledge and experience the average Secondary School teacher has of the Scottish Justice System.

So who will design the proposed curriculum and provide the course materials;

The Law Society of Scotland?

Glasgow University - courtesy of Douglas Mills?

St. Andrews University? - see http://scottishlaw.blogspot.com/

This well intentioned petition is as likely to enhance and solidify a status quo it seeks to correct.

Anonymous said...

It is an education just reading your blog Mr Cherbi.
Excellent work !
I shall always keep a careful eye on any work my solicitor does for me from now on !

Anonymous said...

The day is coming when the public will see lawyers for the dishonest self protecting scumbags they are.

The first lesson for the school pupils is simple,

Trust no lawyer.

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Hi Peter

Any more information on this petition ?
I tried calling up the Parliament but they didnt say much or when it is going to be debated.

Anonymous said...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-11200507

A vicar has been jailed for four years for carrying out hundreds of fake marriages to bypass immigration law.

Rev Alex Brown conducted 360 sham marriages during a four-year period at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in St Leonard, Sussex.

Co-defendants Vladimir Buchan, 33, and solicitor and pastor Michael Adelasoye, 50, were also jailed for four years.

The Crown Prosecution Service said it was thought to be the largest sham marriage case yet brought to court.

The trio were found guilty at Lewes Crown Court in July of conspiring to facilitate the commission of breaches of immigration laws.

Judge Richard Hayward also handed Brown a five-month sentence for solemnizing a marriage without the banns being published.

The two sentences will run concurrently.

The court heard Brown presided over the marriages of hundreds of mainly African men to Eastern European women at his small parish church.

The men had usually arrived lawfully in the UK but had exhausted the appeals process in applying to stay permanently.

Investigators from the UK Border Agency said the three were "happy to exploit and take advantage of other people's desperation for their own ends".

Anonymous said...

Seems a good idea to me.Perhaps also someone in power would like to explain to Scottish parents exactly why English children receive this type of education yet Scottish children apparently do not.

Anonymous said...

no doubt about it Peter you know how to write the news!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Seems a good idea to me.Perhaps also someone in power would like to explain to Scottish parents exactly why English children receive this type of education yet Scottish children apparently do not.
===================================
MANY MSP's WANT TO PROTECT LAWYERS AND IN SO DOING LEAVE THE PUBLIC AT RISK OF BEING RUINED BY ONE.

A LAWYER CLAIMED A STAGGERING £500,000.00 PLUS LEGAL AID HAS BEEN DEALT WITH BY THE LEGAL AID BOARD BUT HIS REGULATOR THE LAW SOCIETY OF SCOTLAND ALLOW HIM BACK TO WORK WITH CLIENTS. THAT IS LAW SOCIETY JUSTICE FOR YOU.

EDUCATION OF LEGAL MATTERS IS ESSENTIAL AND WILL INFORM THE TEACHING PROFESSION OF THE RISKS THE PUBLIC TAKE WHEN DEALING WITH LAWYERS. THEY ARE AN UNACOUNTABLE, THEREFORE DANGEROUS. THEY ARE LEGAL THIEVES MASQUARADING AS HONEST PEOPLE.

THE LAW SOCIETY ALSO REFUSED TO PROSECUTE MR CHERBI'S LAWYER. THE LAW SOCIETY HAVE PROVEN TIME AND TIME AGAIN THAT LAWYERS ARE WHAT THEY CONSIDER IMPORTANT. THEY MUST LIKE LAWYERS RUINING CLIENTS OR THEY WOULD STOP IT HAPPENING.

SELF REGULATION IN ACTION.

Anonymous said...

Posting at 6 September 2010 12:51

It never ceases to amaze me what people will do for money, how they expected to get away with this I do not know. There is always a pattern to activities like this.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

It is an education just reading your blog Mr Cherbi.

Excellent work !
I shall always keep a careful eye on any work my solicitor does for me from now on !

PLEASE TELL ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES TOO.

Anonymous said...

Are you aware the Parliament has posted a briefing paper on this petition which hardly mentions even half of what you have found out about the English system ?

Have a look at it here http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/business/research/petitionBriefings/pb-10/PB10-1354.pdf

Very amateur work by whoever wrote it considering your own reporting of it.

Anonymous said...

http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/scotland/Reading-writing-citizenship.6527308.jp

It took the Scotsman over a week to catch up with you Peter!

Peter Cherbi said...

Thanks for all your comments, suggestions & emails on this article.

The Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament heard this petition today in Arran High School ...

I will report further developments as information becomes available ...

# Anonymous @ 13 September 2010 10:52

Thanks for the link.

There are a few points missing in both mine & the Scotsman's version, particularly the question of why the Parliament kept the petition in limbo from 1st August when it was submitted, while a lawyer member of the Parliament's legal team took part in a Law Society lecture on how to educate our youth ...

There is also the rather glaring commission of the Parliament so far refusing to allow Mr MacKenzie to speak on his own petition ... and one should note the Parliament also refused to allow Mr MacKenzie to speak on his McKenzie Friend petition ...

I think the petitioner should be allowed to speak ... surely ...

Anonymous said...

Hmmm I knew there would be a sting in the tail somewhere.

Why is the petitioner not being allowed to speak ?

Also what's all this about a lawyer member of the Parliament's legal team and a Law Society lecture ?

Are the Law Society trying to steal the show once again ?