Widening Participation

The Sussex Law School is fully committed to widening participation in higher education. Working in close collaboration with the Widening Participation Team at the University of Sussex, the Widening Participation Law Team delivers numerous bespoke law programmes to Year 7/8, Year 8/9, Year 10 and Year 12 students from partner schools and colleges in the Sussex and London area.

In delivering our law programmes, we aim to be inspiring, engaging and interactive. We want to ensure that all students, regardless of their background, recognise that a degree and future career in law is available and open to everyone. We seek to raise aspirations, provide subject enrichment and, most importantly, help students to build confidence and self-belief.

Widening Participation 2017"The Widening Participation Law Team, led by Verona, have consistently delivered engaging, inspirational and educational events and projects for our young people. Law is a very popular subject for the students we work with, so we are delighted to be collaborating with academics and tutors from the department. Whether it is running a Harry Potter-themed taster day for 11-12 year olds or an extended project throughout Year 12 for 16-17 year olds, our law programmes are an outstanding example of aspiration-raising and confidence-building activities with those least likely to attend university."

Chris Mason, Widening Participation, Academic Events Manager

Meet the Widening Participation Law Team

Profile PhotoDr Verona Ní Drisceoil is the Widening Participation Convenor for Law at Sussex Law School. Verona is deeply passionate and committed to teaching and learning and fully believes in the widening participation concept. She prides herself on organising and facilitating inspiring law programmes. Her approach to teaching is underpinned by a desire to reach out and make an impact; to make a connection with students; to inspire and to create an environment where students can learn, challenge and critique. As well as teaching in higher education, Verona has experience of teaching in further education and at secondary and primary school level.

Widening Participation Convenor for Law"I absolutely love being involved in the delivery of widening participation programmes to pre-university students. It is the ‘wondering estrangement’ that makes it so worthwhile. 

"I also enjoy nothing more than to see younger students develop and grow in confidence during the sessions and programmes and to realise that they too ‘can become what they are capable of becoming’. Within this environment, there is a real opportunity to make a difference and to connect - not only with the students taking part but with your own teaching and sense of being."  
Verona Ní Drisceoil

Marie HuttonMarie Hutton is the Deputy Widening Participation Convenor for Law. Marie was the first in her family to go to university as a mature student and her experiences mean she believes strongly in the importance of the widening participation scheme. Marie is passionate about achieving social justice and levelling the playing field to ensure that the chance to obtain a law degree and pursue a legal career is a possibility for all.

The Widening Participation Programmes we deliver
Tasters to Law

Widening Participation 2017The Taster to Law sessions are 45 minute sessions delivered to Year 7 and Year 8 students. These sessions, as the title suggests, are aimed at giving students a ‘taster’ to the subject of law. In these sessions we use group work, role play and critical thinking tasks to introduce students to criminal law and criminal justice, theories of punishment and human rights. We also give students an opportunity to present opening speeches before the ‘court’.

A Taster to Law inspired by Harry Potter
In May 2017, the Widening Participation Law Team facilitated a taster to law session inspired by Harry Potter.

Making Choices

Making Choices Programme 2015/16The Making Choices programme enables Year 8 and Year 9 students to engage with new subject areas before making their GCSE choices. The objective of the Making Choices programme is to help students think about the subjects they like, to experience university life and think about future career prospects. 

In the bespoke law programme we provide students with opportunities to identify and critique contemporary legal issues, to develop presentation and advocacy skills through group work advocacy exercises and to take part in their own mini human rights trials in our Moot Court Room in the Freeman Building.

Making Choices feedback 2016/17

Making Choices

Student Feedback

“I have learnt that law is a good subject to learn more about the world” 

“I enjoyed this day a lot and it has helped with my public speaking” 

“The world of law is a lot more controversial than I thought at first – there is never normally an easy decision” 

Teacher Feedback

“Thank you so much for a fabulous day” 

“My students have a greater understanding of law and its many aspects, and improved their presentation skills” 

Stand up for Justice – Criminal Advocacy

Stand Up For JusticeIn 2017, we hosted the first ‘Stand up for Justice’ criminal advocacy programme and competition for Year 10 students from partnering schools in the Sussex area. 

This programme, providing students with an introduction to criminal advocacy and an opportunity to present a plea in mitigation, was ably led by Julia Moffatt, Julie Ferguson (Criminal Advocacy Co-ordinators, Sussex Law School) and David Smith (Anthony Gold Solicitors).

To learn more about the programme, watch our Introduction to Criminal Advocacy video below.

Introduction video
'Stand up for Justice' feedback 2017

Student Feedback

“That was so much fun, thank you so much, this is one of the best trips I've been on”

It has made me interested in law and given me more confidence”

Teacher Feedback

“Best event I have attended, really fun and engaging, totally different perspectives. Bonus using people from the industry who are able to answer all questions”

“Thank you so much for a fabulous day and the opportunity for the pupils”

The Sussex Study ‘Law’ Experience

During term time, the primary focus for the Widening Participation Law Team is the Sussex Study ‘Law’ Experience programme (SSE). The SSE programme is an extended programme offering Year 12 students from the London and the Sussex area an enhanced experience and insight into higher education in a subject specific context. The law specific programme seeks to provide SSE students with an opportunity to explore law in theory and practice and includes a diverse range of academic sessions on criminal law, criminology, media law and human rights. As with all our widening participation programmes, voice work and advocacy is embedded in to the academic sessions. The programme also includes a number of law specific fieldtrips including a visit to Lewes Crown Court and/or the Houses of Parliament, the Supreme Court or the Old Bailey.

Key objectives for the SSE Law programme are:

    • To provide subject enrichment;
    • To raise aspirations;
    • To develop critical thinking;
    • To help students develop presentation and communication skills through mooting and role play; and
    • To build confidence.

"The SSE Law programme was extremely enjoyable as well as a great eye opener for what studying law at Sussex is like. It demonstrated the many opportunities available to law students within the Law School as well as throughout the whole university.

"For me, the most useful aspect of the programme was getting an idea of what tutors expect of you. I have used this experience throughout my two years of study at Sussex and it has definitely been beneficial."

Former SSE student Sophie Griffiths (Law LLB 2015 - 2018)

"Through the SSE programme I was able to gain an insight into how law was taught at university, speak to current university students and lecturers.

"The programme marked the beginning of my journey to university; I began to research more about different universities and courses, and with the excellent guide of the tutors, all my questions about university were answered."

Former SSE student Mary Iyi (LLB student 2015 - 2018)

Sussex Summer School

Year 12 students participate in the Allen & Overy Summer School in 2014During the summer term, the Widening Participation Law Team facilitates and delivers a Year 12 subject specific law summer school as part of the Widening Participation Summer Schools programme. The summer school is part of a broader four day residential stay on campus.

The academic sessions provided are diverse, interactive and engaging and include sessions on criminal law, human rights and international law. Students are also provided with numerous opportunities to practice and develop presentation and communications skills through criminal law mock trials, mini human rights trials and group presentations.

Supporting First Generation Scholars at Sussex Law School

The work of the Widening Participation Law Team is not confined to pre-university programmes but also committed to supporting first generation scholars at Sussex Law School.

The Widening Participation Law Team facilitates and supports the following initiatives:

  • First Generation Scholar Awards
    At graduation, Sussex Law School presents a number of monetary awards to first generation scholars for exceptional achievement.
  • Hardship Fund
    The Widening Participation Law Team offers financial support to law students who need a helping hand. This fund is facilitated by the Student Life Centre at the University of Sussex. Please contact Verona Ní Drisceoil for further information about this fund.
  • Supporting the Legal Skills Workshops and Competitions at SLS
    Where possible, the Widening Participation Law Team supports the various law skills programmes and competitions by providing funds for gowns, wigs and laptop stands.
  • Middle Temple access to the Bar Award
    The Widening Participation Law Team also oversees applications to the Middle Temple Access to the Bar Award. Please contact Verona Ní Drisceoil or Marie Hutton for further information about this scheme.

Widening Participation Law Team

Contact Details

Dr Verona Ni Drisceoil
Widening Participation Convenor

Marie Hutton
Deputy Widening Participation Convenor

For general enquiries, please contact the Widening Participation Law Team