Court Education

Booking Update

Law Days Out at the Downing Centre for 2024 are fully booked. Please note that Parramatta Courts remain unavailable to all school groups indefinitely given the high-risk nature of matters being heard there.

The Courts and Sheriffs have advised that teachers in the metropolitan area can make arrangements at their nearest local court complex by contacting the Registrar of that complex directly. Schools from regional areas should contact the Registrars of larger complexes that house both Local and District courts (such as Albury, Campbelltown, Penrith, Wollongong or Newcastle) given the size limitations of many regional local courts and the limited sitting days. Court contact details can be found on the Local Court of NSW.

Click here to go to the Court Excursion Documents

Click here to make a payment for a Court Excursion

Law Day Out FAQ

Click here to go to the Law Day Out Booking Page

The Importance of Situated Learning for Legal Studies: An Educational Perspective

There is a strong evidence base that makes the case for the important role that Situated Learning plays in deepening student understanding of theoretical concepts learned throughout the syllabus.

Such learning experiences provide students with the opportunity to see the knowledge in action and encourage analytical thinking that contrasts the theory with the actuality of the application of concepts learned. Situated learning enables students to observe the internal and external influences that may cause a result to deviate from the intended outcome, which they may have expected to see given a theoretical framework.

Observing the law in action through court experiences is of particular importance to students of Legal Studies given the ever-changing political landscape and its impact on law making and reform, long standing legal procedures put in place to protect the often conflicting rights of the individual and the community, and the hugely contrasting social factors that influence individuals interactions with the law. These three components can have a substantial influence on the operation of the justice system, providing students with valuable insights into the interaction between and independence of the three arms of the separation of powers.

Situated learning in a court context also has additional benefits in creating legal literacy in students, enabling them to develop some key social and cultural understandings that will help to equip them for adult life.

In Australian society, a basic understanding of legal operations will assist in protecting the longevity and integrity of the jury system, their impact on law making and reform as voters and the importance of the separation of powers to support the creation of just outcomes into the future.

 

Law Day Out Excursions

What are they and why are they valuable?

    The Importance of Courtroom Experiences: A Social Perspective

    Providing students with a courtroom experience can have a substantial impact on the next generation of our society and assist in developing a culture of lawfulness by creating legal literacy in young people experiencing the court environment and workings. Young citizens can explore the fundamentals of our legal system and will build a conscious awareness and respect for the law during that program.

    Cultural Leaders in the Legal System

    With the prolific rise of social media and shortened news items designed for fast consumption, the popularity and public knowledge of leaders in the legal realm, such as judges, legal advocates and various justice staff, has diminished. The reduction of the ownership of media outlets worldwide to a core group of companies also serves to limit the narrative of news articles presented for public consumption. As such, our leaders lack cultural influence. Social and mainstream media use of algorithms to accelerate consumerism to drive the status quo, and the emergence of social media ‘influencers’ prevents students from experiencing different world views, exercise critical thought and challenge their values.

    These factors are hindering students from becoming ‘active citizens’ who can make balanced and informed decisions.

    Students lack role models who inspire them to utilise their rights and responsibilities as citizens to promote broader principles of human rights and the rule of law. Our system of government relies active citizens for its efficacy and legitimacy on an informed citizenry; without active, knowledgeable citizens the forms of democratic representation[JH1]  remain empty.

    Courtroom experiences not only act to strengthen curriculum-based knowledge, but also serve to create cultural leaders in our judicial officers. In the Rule of Law Education’s Law Day Out program, we have seen judicial officers inspire and guide younger generations and use their passion for the law to inspire students to appreciate and be informed of and protect their rights and responsibilities as citizens.

    Developing Trust in the Legal System

    Recent deterioration in the public’s trust in the law and the agencies that enforce it, caused by rapid political turnover, overzealous regulators, the rapid dissemination of false information on social media and cultural disengagement from the law, are all symptoms of a growing legal illiteracy in modern society.

    Courtroom experiences are a path towards building up the public’s understanding and perception of our legal system, ensuring that the youngest generation of our society will be well-equipped to learn about the foundations of politics, law and justice. By leading students through an interactive experience within a legal environment, their perceptions will become more reflective of reality and as their inquiries are answered, their knowledge more accurate. Making the law more accessible through knowledge is the first step towards building trust in it, and will eventually lead to a restoration of the public’s faith in the rule of law. This encourages our communities to participate in and support regulatory systems, tackle criminal behaviours and encourage a culture of lawfulness.

    Community Support for the Legal System

    Courtroom experiences serve to humanise the procedural and substantive legal processes so that students feel safe in the communities under authorities they know and trust. Witnessing the law in action helps to encourage future generations create communities that live lawfully where rights are respected and upheld, and responsibilities are acted upon, encouraging students to place more confidence in the community around them and fostering a deeper understanding of the rule of law.

    After attending the Law Day Out Program and seeing the law in action, we have seen students challenged to take responsibility for their own actions and encouraging their peer to do the same.

    Courtroom experiences can result in powerful lessons and realisations among the future generations of Australia, widening the scope of their freedoms and citizenry duties. It is imperative citizens are equipped to advocate for the rule of law and ideals such as right to liberty and the presumption of innocence that are enshrined in our Australian legal system. Young citizens are guardians of community justice and safety, and their worldview should be shaped and fostered from by cultural leaders who can develop trust and community support for human rights and the rule of law.

    Other Education opportunities

    The Rule of Law team also has a Professional Development Program – A Law Day Out for Teachers, suitable for NSW Commerce and Legal Studies teachers where they can come and experience a Law Day Out with the Rule of Law Education Centre team to learn about the experience or to help them in planning their own self-guided visit to a court complex. These experiences happen twice a year – once in the July school holiday period and once in December. These experiences are free to members and will be advertised via our member’s mailing list and social media channels[JH2] .

    Booking a visit the Downing Centre

    From Tuesday – Thursday in term time, The Rule of Law Education Centre offers students of Legal Studies a situated learning experience at the Downing Centre Court Complex, the Law Day Out Program. This program is a facilitated court visit experience where we manage the logistics of the visit for teachers, so they can focus on the learning outcomes of the experience and ensure their own safety obligations for their students are met. As part of this experience, the Rule of Law Education Centre staff arrange for a volunteer judicial officer to speak with students (where available), manage the logistics of student groups moving around the courts for observations, act as a conduit between school groups and courts staff, and are available for answering questions and troubleshooting as the morning unfolds.

    The experience is run in accordance with directions from the Sheriffs, Court Services, the Chief Magistrate of NSW and the Chief Judge of the District Court of NSW, and has court-imposed limits on student numbers. In 2024, a booking on a Law Day Out is needed to attend the Downing Centre. To make a booking, click on the Law Day Out below. 

    Book to Visit the Courts

    The Rule of Law Education Centre provides a booking system for schools wishing to visit the New South Wales Courts.  In accordance with directions from the Sheriffs and Chief Judge of the District Court of NSW, there are limits on the amount of students able to visit the courts at one time.   A list of schools who have booked to visit the NSW Courts is provided to the Sheriffs and only those schools will be able to enter the Downing Centre.  To make a booking, click on the relevant excursion experience below. 

    Law Day Out Court Excursion Program (LDO) – NOTE :We are fully booked for 2024.

    A Court Experience facilitated by a Rule of Law Educator with the opportunity, where possible, to meet a Judicial Officer.  LDO’s are limited to 45 students and cost is group based pricing based upon the number of students per group.

    Virtual Law Day Out – An free online court experience

    Court Excursion Documents

    The Rule of Law Education Centre has put together a pack of information to help your excursion to the Courts run smoothly. The pack is free of charge and includes an information pack for teachers, risk management proforma and student workbooks. 

    Click here to go to the Court Excursion Documents

    Court Excursion Payments

    Payment is required 45 days before a school can attend a Law Day Out Court Excursion Program which includes facilitation from a Rule of Law Educator.  Payment can be made via EFT as per the details on the invoice or by Paypal/Credit Card.  

     

    Click here to make a payment for a Court Excursion