Teaching the Magna Carta to Primary Students

Our General Manager, Sally Layson has been out teaching Year 6 students about the Magna Carta. She has focused on the principles established in 1215 with the granting of the Magna Carta and how they have lead to many of the ideals and practices that our central to our democratic society – including the rule of law.  

Many Year 6 students, around Australia visit Canberra and learn about the beliefs and values that are the foundation of the development of Australian democratic society.  Sally discussed how the ideals enshrined in the Magna Carta such as no-one is above the law and the importance of fair trials are part of this foundation and the establishment of the rule of law in Australia.

She outlined to the students how the fundamental principles of the rule of law which were brought to Australia on the First Fleet, crystallised during the Rum Rebellion and then promoted in the legal framework outlined in the Constitution are the legacy of the Magna Carta.

Students were challenged to imagine what it would be like at school if the Principal was “above the law”- where the Principal could take their lunch, canteen money or even their parents’ car without any accountability to the law!  They also imagined what it would be like to play a game of Basketball with the Principal where he could make up the rules as he wished, takes players from any team and even tell the referee what decisions to make.

After imagining what a society would be like where those in power are above the law, the students could appreciate why it was important for our forbears to develop a legal system that is based on the rule of law that has checks and balances on the use of power.  With such a system, they could feel sure that their lunchboxes, games of basketball and parent’s car were protected by the law.

The Rule of law education team hope to producing some specific Primary resources soon, please contact us with any queries.