Magna Carta in schools
Junior lawyers to promote Magna Carta
30 October 2014
The legal profession is being encouraged to use the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta to educate young people across the country about the Charter’s historical importance and contemporary relevance.
At a special event held yesterday (29 October) at the May Fair Hotel in London, the Master of the Rolls, the Rt Hon Lord Dyson, who is Chairman of the Magna Carta Trust, launched the Junior Lawyers in Schools project as a key part of the Magna Carta 800th anniversary events.
The project is designed to connect schools with young lawyers interested in going into classrooms to talk about why Magna Carta matters and how it impacts on all our lives. The Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Committee is providing relevant materials, classroom work sheets and background papers to support the project, as well as an interface on its website where junior lawyers and schools can sign-up to support the project.
A poll conducted in 2012 by the 800th Anniversary Committee found a lack of understanding of key facts about Magna Carta among young people. It found that only 60 per cent of 18 to 24 year-olds had heard of Magna Carta, compared to 87 per cent who were aware of the US Declaration of Independence.
Magna Carta is the foundation of freedom under the law and ever since King John agreed “The Great Charter” with his Barons in 1215, its principles have influenced constitutional thinking worldwide, and have served as the foundation of freedom for almost 2 billion people in over 100 countries.
In addition to providing materials online, the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) has provided funding for at least 800 memory sticks to be distributed to its Fellows and other junior solicitors and barristers. These memory sticks will be pre-loaded with ideas and activities to help classroom discussion and interaction on Magna Carta and the Rule of Law.
Lord Dyson said, “We know that most young people have heard of Magna Carta, but not enough feel they know what it is really about or understand how important it still is today. The 800th anniversary is a unique opportunity to educate a new generation about Magna Carta. I particularly welcome and would encourage all of us working in the legal system to be part of this exciting initiative.
Judith West, Director of Partnerships at Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel Group, the official hotel partner to the Magna Carta 800th Committee, welcomed Lord Dyson to the launch event: “We are pleased to host this launch of the Magna Carta in schools project today as we recognise the importance of a strong heritage and values, and the significance of Magna Carta in establishing freedom under the law.
“The Edwardian Group has been developing leading hotels and hospitality brands since 1977, with the guiding principle of delivering a truly exceptional and memorable experience for our guests, time and time again.”
The project has been developed working closely with the Young Barrister’s Committee of the Bar Council, the Junior Law Division of the Law Society and CILEx.
Speaking ahead of the launch event, CILEx President Frances Edwards (pictured left) said, “CILEx believes the impact of the Magna Carta should be understood and celebrated in current times and we are proud to support the Junior Lawyers in Schools programme.
“We not only support the programme as lawyers, but also as educators of young people – we can speak first hand as to how important it is that young people have access to legal skills, knowledge and a fundamental understanding of the rule of law.”
The Magna Carta Junior Lawyers project is one of a range of activities being promoted and co-ordinated by the Magna Carta Trust’s 800th Anniversary Commemoration Committee to help ensure everyone has the opportunity to learn more about Magna Carta.
The Committee is also producing and promoting lesson plans, videos, specially commissioned children’s books and talks, as part of its schools education programme.
More details can be found at www.magnacarta800th.com/schools.
Pictured top from left to right: Justin Fisher, Magna Carta 800th Committee; Frances Edwards, president of CILEx; Lord Dyson, chairman of the Magna Carta Trust; Julia Bateman, director of Global Law Summit; Daniel Steinberg, Young Barristers; Sophia Dirir, Junior Lawyers Division of the Law Society; Chris Lloyd, Magna Carta Chronicle