Bond University

Article Title

The Growth of Legal Education in Australian Secondary Schools: Implications for Tertiary and Secondary Legal Education


The success and popularity of various law-related education programs in secondary schools is evident again in the recent formal introduction of legal studies into the school systems in Queensland and New South Wales. Law-related education is not a new idea in Australia, however. In some Australian states, particularly Victoria and Tasmania, legal studies programs have grown and apparently flourished. In this article we argue that it is time for a review of law-related education. Such a review is especially useful to school systems, such as those in Queensland, embarking on a program of law-related education and provides a foundation for the further development of existing school programs. Moreover, much can be learned by tertiary educators from an examination of the legal studies programs in various states: it can be used to establish and strengthen the links between tertiary and secondary levels of legal education and build upon the foundation of legal knowledge acquired by students in schools prior to their entry to the study of law at universities and colleges. In addition, as educators in tertiary institutions we should be aware and begin to consider how the completion of law-related courses before higher education admission may affect the curriculum taught and pedagogical approaches adopted in first year law study at tertiary level. In this article we briefly address the development of law-related education in secondary schools. We discuss the rationale behind the development of legal studies courses and focus on the program in Tasmania, one of the first states to institute legal studies at matriculation level. We also draw upon our own experiencesl in teaching introductory courses in law at both tertiary and secondary levels and reflect on our research and committee work with curricula for Legal Studies and for Introduction to Law, offered to prospective law students at the University of Tasmania. In addition we outline the approaches adopted, the materials developed and our thoughts on ways to facilitate cooperation between tertiary and secondary levels of legal education.

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