icon-facebook icon-instagram icon-pinterest icon-soundcloud icon-twitter icon-youtube

More than 1900 students have swapped the classroom for the courtroom this year as the Court’s Education Program brought schools back onsite.

The Court’s team of 14 dedicated volunteers ran 100 sessions across the year where schools students met a judicial officer, watched a hearing, and learnt about legal processes and court history.

It was the first year VCE students had been able to visit after pandemic restrictions halted the onsite program in early 2020 and an online program was run for almost three years.

To provide flexibility, the Court continued to offer online sessions as part of a hybrid model and more than 250 students participated in seven online sessions across the year, including during a combined Law Week Q&A.

“The feedback from teachers and students is clear – they want their day in court,” Education and Engagement Officer Christina Varcoe said.

“Learning is about sparking an interest and visiting the Court really helps to bring their textbooks to life.”

All sessions were attended by a judicial officer, thanks to 35 judges, associate judges, and judicial registrars who made time to talk about their career path and answer questions directly from students.

“The program is not about creating the next generation of lawyers, it’s about understanding the work of the Court and the legal system which is a core element of our society,” Ms Varcoe said.

“Many of the judicial officers have changed career several times and have varied life experiences which students find refreshing and inspiring as they face the pressures of finishing school.”

The hybrid program is complemented by the Court’s public livestreaming and remote access, which allow schools to prepare for their session and follow the outcome of hearings they attend.

Chief Justice Anne Ferguson, who has also talked with students at some sessions, said the program was rewarding for students and judicial officers alike. 

“The students ask thoughtful and interesting questions and remind us of our younger selves when our inquisitive minds led us to law in the first place,” she said. 

“We’re always looking for ways to better engage with the community and we welcome all Victorians to watch hearings in person and online.”

Sessions for Term 1 2024 are already booked out. Teachers and schools seeking more information should visit the Court Education Program page.

Interested in learning about the Court but not a student? Listen to the award-winning Gertie’s Law podcast.

Published on 14 December 2023