What is StreetLaw?
StreetLaw is a Community Engagement programme offered by the School of Law at the University of Leeds, in collaboration with the university’s Educational Engagement Team. University students (“StreetLaw Trainers”), studying law or criminology and criminal justice, volunteer on this programme to create interactive and engaging workshops for school students to learn about legal related topics relevant to them. StreetLaw aims to promote an understanding about legal rights and responsibilities, particularly to those who may not otherwise have access to such knowledge. The programme is grounded in the experience of school students, with a focus to creating a tailored, engaging, educational experience. StreetLaw takes place in secondary schools and colleges based in Leeds, surrounding local authorities and across the UK. The offering also includes a talk from the trainers about studying in the School of Law and life as a university student more broadly.
The School of Law StreetLaw story:
Street Law, a non-profit organisation originally registered in the U.S. creates classroom and community programmes that teach people about law, democracy, and human rights worldwide. The term Streetlaw was adapted for use in the UK where the programme is delivered by many universities across the country. In October 2015, the School of Law collaborated with other institutions in Leeds to develop ‘StreetLeeds’, a comprehensive programme tailored specifically for the legal needs of the Leeds’ community.
In 2017, the School of Law at The University of Leeds, moved to running its own StreetLaw programme, which has grown each year since. In 2018, students involved in StreetLaw focused on delivering information to local schools on the gender pay gap. In 2019, the topic selection was expanded to fit more in line with the school curriculum and local community needs. In 2020, the project delivery changed to an online format as a creative solution during the COVID-19 pandemic. Each phase has influenced the delivery format now offered.
Since its inauguration, the programme has also been supported by a number of solicitors and legal professionals from local law firms who act as supervisors to the StreetLaw trainers, supporting their workshop preparation.
What topics are covered?
Below is a list of topics that have been delivered in the past or have been identified as suitable topics to meet KS3 and KS4 Citizenship and PSHE curriculum aims. Please note, this list is not exhaustive, and we welcome other suggestions schools may have. We can discuss this further with you, to assign the best topic(s) for your school based on the year group you have in mind and how much StreetLaw involvement your school would like.
- Social Media & Online Privacy (Including Data Protection)
- Crime & Evidence
- Police Powers
- Human Rights
- Drugs & Gang Culture
- Introduction to Law & the Legal System
- Being a Lawful Citizen
- Using Your Voice & How the Law is Changed: Campaigning/Voting/Debating/Advocacy
- The Courts & Justice System (Including how court trials work)
- Anti-social Behaviour & the Law
- Environmental Law & Climate Change
- Employment Rights & the Gig Economy
- The Gender Pay Gap
Benefits to your school and students:
- Flexible – Workshops can be adjusted to fit your curriculum planning and can also be prepared as an online/remote learning resource.
- Supportive – The content supports Key Stage 3 and 4 curriculum aims.
- Student Development – StreetLaw develops students’ critical thinking skills and can raise students’ aspirations, particularly towards studying at third level and an interest in the legal profession.
- Curriculum Variety – Including a StreetLaw workshop in student’s timetable provides another type of learning experience.
- It’s Free! - Being involved in StreetLaw comes at no cost to your school and has myriad benefits for all involved.
What is the current StreetLaw offering for schools?
As of September 2021, StreetLaw now comes in two different formats, depending on your school’s location and delivery capacity:
- StreetLaw: Online (Schools outside Leeds and where in person delivery is not possible)
StreetLaw Trainers will deliver a 1.5 hour workshop live, online to school students (ideally through Microsoft Teams but other platforms may be considered).
Back-up: Should a live session not prove feasible, a pre-recorded workshop will be provided instead.
- StreetLaw: Face-to-face (Local schools)
StreetLaw Trainers will deliver a 1.5 hour workshop in person to school students (max. 30 pupils per group).
This will be subject to government and university guidelines, and a risk assessment will need to be completed. StreetLaw Trainers will not be DBS checked and must always be accompanied by a member of staff from the school.
Why do School of Law students get involved?
This project offers School of Law undergraduate and postgraduate students (“StreetLaw trainers”), the opportunity to engage with the local community, develop legal research and workshop facilitation skills, and gain valuable experience in preparation for work in the legal or criminal justice profession. As a successful volunteer scheme more broadly, it also develops crucial teamwork and communication skills and builds students’ confidence. StreetLaw trainers work in small groups to research, design and deliver an interactive workshop covering a legal related topic, with the support of the University’s Educational Engagement team and a practising lawyer.
Related articles for interested students:
If you are a School of Law student interested in becoming a StreetLaw volunteer, there are usually two recruitment stages in the year which you will receive an email about. Please visit Minerva and follow this pathway to find out more on when and how to apply: Minerva – Law – Personal Development & Careers – Pro Bono, Volunteering, Community Engagement - StreetLaw.
How do supervising legal professionals support?
A solicitor or legal professional from a local law firm supports each StreetLaw trainer group with their workshop preparation. This support is offered in the form of lesson plan review and discussion, observing suitability and relevance of content and activities suggested, tips on how to communicate topic content in an effective way to a younger audience, particularly any legal jargon or complex information, and general support with idea generation and how best to present the workshop.
“The sessions were very good, particularly given the difficulty of delivering sessions virtually. The students were engaged in both sessions and the trainers were knowledgeable and enthusiastic.” – Longley Park Sixth Form, 2021
“Great PowerPoint content for pre-teaching beforehand and the amount of people on the call for the live session was brilliant.” – St. Margaret’s School, 2021
“The StreetLaw trainers were very friendly, engaging and led the sessions well.” – Brampton Manor Academy, 2021 REQUESTED USE
“Students were very pleased with the workshops. They enjoyed that the topics covered were separate to that of the A Level curriculum which meant that it was mostly new and interesting information for them.” –Elliot Hudson College, 2020
“The sessions delivered were definitely well planned, and this reflected in their knowledge and passion for the subjects.” – Leeds West Academy, 2020
StreetLaw Trainer Feedback
“Taking part in the StreetLaw project was a thoroughly enjoyable experience… Creating a workshop has helped to develop my legal research skills, presentation skills, and my ability to present complex information in a clear concise way. It was also rewarding to engage with the local community and hopefully inspire students to study Law at university.” –2021
“As a first year law student, I truly enjoyed the fact that I was able to utilize my (relatively little) knowledge of the law in a way that was benefiting the community around me. I thoroughly enjoyed the feeling of being useful in some sense, especially considering that when I first started my degree I did not feel I had much to offer this early on in my legal academic career. The experience I had with StreetLaw is one that I will definitely seek to consistently repeat with various community engagement and pro bono work in the future.” –2019
“[I] definitely gained various skills such as presentation skills and confidence as I would get very nervous to present however this project helped with this. I really enjoyed the project as I found completing each task was fun and interesting while being productive and educational.” - 2021
“Doing the workshop pack has made me realise how much effort goes into teaching and how hard it is to convey information across an audience with limited or no knowledge on that topic, without losing their attention. Surpassing that obstacle, I’ve gained exposure to effective learning techniques.” - 2021
“Having a live session with the student was my most memorable moment of the project. It was encouraging hearing the students engage with the work I had given them and hearing them share their opinions and being able to defend them.” – 2021
“I’ve enjoyed creating engaging tasks for a younger audience and being on the delivering side of education for once, rather than the receiving side.” - 2021
“My communication skills have developed and I have managed to carry out a successful research project remotely. I now have a more positive outlook in terms of the opportunities that are still available despite COVID.” - 2021