The academic staff are also research active in the areas of Family Law, Criminal Justice, the general area of Human Rights and Discrimination, and the development of legal education.

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  • Student-Parents' experiences of academic and non-academic support in UK Higher Education

    Todd, Andrea; University of Chester
    This report analyses the findings of a nationwide study of students who are also parents (student-parents). Carried out between May and August 2023, the study builds on previous small-scale research projects into the needs of student-parents1 and was undertaken in the context of: • the introduction of a new UCAS question inviting student-parents to self-identify when applying to university; and • the introduction of the Office for Students’ (OfS) Equality of Opportunity Register (EORR). This report explores participants’ experiences of pastoral and academic support at university. It exposes systemic failures in such support for student-parents across the sector which pose a significant risk to their retention, progression and success. Parental responsibility is not currently identified by OfS as a standalone characteristic likely to place students ‘at risk’ at university. However, the findings of this study reveal that student-parents are in fact vulnerable to five of the six ‘on course’ risks identified in the EORR. This three-part clickable report provides a compelling evidence base to support the inclusion of parental responsibility in the EORR list of student characteristics.
  • The Personal Tutor's Guide to Supporting Student-Parents in Higher Education

    Todd, Andrea; University of Chester (United Kingdom Advising and Tutoring Association (UKAT), 2023-09-18)
    This research-informed, evidence-based, peer reviewed toolkit aims to assist personal tutors to provide effective support to their student-parent personal tutees.
  • The Student-Parent’s Guide to Navigating University

    Todd, Andrea; University of Chester (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), 2023-09-11)
    The Student-Parent Guide to Navigating University is a research-informed, evidence-based, peer reviewed toolkit which has been published via the UCAS (Universities & Colleges Admissions Service) website
  • Law Students as Active Citizens: Instilling a Career-Long Commitment to Pro Bono and Social Justice via the CLE Curriculum

    Todd, Andrea; University of Chester (Northumbria University Press, 2023-12-20)
    By engaging in pro bono work whilst at university, students demonstrate that they are good citizens. Students perform a valuable service for members of the local community, and the skills they learn enhance their ability to secure, and succeed in, a graduate role. But is this enough? Should we, as clinical legal educators, be doing more to facilitate students becoming active (and not just good) citizens, who know not only how to ‘do’ pro bono, but who also actively engage with the why of pro bono? Can facilitating a critical understanding of the political and social backdrop to the need for pro bono advice engender a genuine commitment to social justice which students can take with them into their working lives? This paper explores the drivers for an ‘active citizenship’ approach to pro bono learning and reflects on the pilot year of a student-led module aimed at fostering social responsibility and a strong sense of social justice to achieve a long-lasting commitment to pro bono in the lawyers of the future
  • An Exploration of the Perceived Gendered Impact and Implications of Shared Parental Leave on the Career Progression of Solicitors in England and Wales

    Davies, Chantal; Morrow, John; Newton, Jethro; Gillard, Niel (University of Chester, 2023-07-31)
    Over 100 years since the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act 1919 lifted the prohibition of women practicing law in England and Wales the number of women practising as solicitors has overtaken men. However, women continue to be underrepresented in the senior positions in the solicitors’ profession. Existing literature has identified that the solicitors’ profession is underpinned by a masculine workplace culture, and that sex, motherhood, and childcare responsibilities present obstacles for women to progress to the senior positions in the solicitors’ profession. In 2015 the UK Government introduced shared parental leave (SPL), a modest reform of childcare leave, enabling working mothers to transfer maternity leave and pay to the father from as early as two weeks after the arrival of a child. SPL is intended to help women to retain and improve their position in the UK labour market by encouraging fathers to share childcare more equally from birth. The object of this research is to examine whether SPL effectively addresses the gendered obstacles related to childcare responsibilities faced by women to career progression in the solicitors’ profession. To achieve this, the research employs a socio-legal methodology with a qualitative empirical approach using a student focus group, a qualitative questionnaire and 24 interviews with participants with experience working at solicitors’ firms based in England and Wales. This research finds that childcare and the perception that women will become mothers with childcare responsibilities is an underlying obstacle to career progression in the solicitors’ profession. This research also finds that shared parental leave is ineffective at challenging the obstacles to career progression because of barriers preventing parents from taking up SPL. Participants recommended changes to SPL and the introduction of additional mechanisms to encourage higher levels of take-up of SPL by parents working in the solicitors’ profession. This research proposes pointers for action by individual law firms, regulatory bodies, and the UK Government to increase the efficacy of SPL at addressing the gendered obstacles related to childcare responsibilities faced by women to career progression in the solicitors’ profession.
  • Happy anniversary to the women in law pledge

    Davies, Chantal; University of Chester (Law Society of England and Wales, 2023-06-20)
    Opinion piece on anniversary of women in law pledge
  • Advising Students on Qualifying Work Experience (QWE): The Careers Advisers’ Companion

    Todd, Andrea; Blackburn, Lucy; University of Chester; University of Central Lancashire
    With the introduction of the Solicitors’ Qualifying Exam (SQE) in September 2021, sweeping changes were made to the rules relating to qualifying as a solicitor, including the introduction of a period of two year’s Qualifying Work Experience (‘QWE’) which can be undertaken either before or after the candidate completes the SQE assessments and can be collected from up to four organisations, including law firms, law centres, charities, in-house legal teams, and university legal advice clinics. The rules around QWE can be complex to decipher. Following discussions with stakeholders in this area, the authors published two research-informed peer-reviewed student guides to QWE. This Careers Advisers' Companion accompanies the student-facing guides and aims to provide Advisers with an overview of the most important issues to discuss with students when helping them to navigate the rules around QWE.
  • Recording, Confirming and Registering Qualifying Work Experience (QWE) from Work Placements: A ‘Ten Top Tips’ Toolkit For Students - and Guidance on Completing the SRA QWE Template

    Todd, Andrea; Blackburn, Lucy; University of Chester; University of Central Lancashire
    This Toolkit is intended to assist students in understanding the rules about Qualifying Work Experience and how it may apply to work placements. The definition of work placements in this document includes periods of formal or informal ‘work experience’ (typically of up to a few weeks) as well as ‘placements’ and ‘internships’ (typically involving attending the workplace over a longer period of time, sometimes organised by, or with the help of, the student’s education provider).
  • The Solicitors' Qualifying Exam and Qualifying Work Experience: Dispelling Common Misconceptions

    Todd, Andrea; Blackburn, Lucy; University of Chester; University of Central Lancashire
    Andrea Todd, Director of Pro Bono and Community Engagement at the University of Chester, and Lucy Blackburn, Director of the Advice and Resolution Centre at the University of Central Lancashire, are co-Chairs of the Clinical Legal Education Organisation. In this article they provide a taste of their QWE Toolkits for students and careers advisers by explaining the reality behind eight common QWE misconceptions.
  • ‘What Is? What If? What Next?’ Why institutions must urgently identify, support, and celebrate their student-parents – and imagining a world in which they do so

    Todd, Andrea; University of Chester (Open University, 2023-03-01)
    Students who have dependent children are ‘relatively invisible in the policy and physical spaces of universities’ (Moreau and Kerner, 2015: p.4), are ‘ignored or only briefly mentioned’ in governmental communications (Moreau, 2014: p2), and are impossible to track in terms of entrance to, performance at, or attrition rate from, higher education. There is no obligation on institutions in England and Wales to compile data on their students’ family circumstances (Moreau, 2014), and as such student-parents at such institutions can remain unidentified and unsupported throughout their higher education journey. With the aim of adding urgency to the calls to take the first step in supporting student parents, this paper uses Hopkins’ (Hopkins, R., 2019; 2022a) ‘what is? what if? what next?’ method to stimulate conversation about this overlooked cohort and to visualise the ways in which student-parents could be supported and celebrated by their institutions if they were visible participants in higher education. The article underlines why the higher education sector should collect data on student-parents (‘what is’); presents a vision of the university of the future which collects data from, and thus is able to support and celebrate, its student-parent population (‘what if’); and urges higher education institutions, in the absence of a national requirement to do so, to compile data on an institutional level which in turn facilitates the retention, progression, achievement and satisfaction of this committed and motivated cohort (‘what next’).
  • Let’s get visible: evidence-based interventions aimed at supporting, empowering and celebrating student-parents in higher education

    Todd, Andrea; University of Chester (Association for Learning Development in Higher Education, 2023-02-28)
    This paper analyses the findings of a two-stage small-scale research project investigating the needs of undergraduate students with dependent children (‘student-parents’) studying in a post-1992 university. The findings of Stage 1 of the study, using data from semi-structured interviews with student-parents, show that student-parents need two things from their institution: a sense of belonging and flexibility. In Stage 2, a questionnaire survey was used to explore the impact of two interventions piloted during the 2021-22 academic year to address the Stage 1 findings. The paper then presents the next steps in this project: co-creation, with students, of systems designed not only to make visible our student-parent community but also to support, empower and celebrate their identities as student-parents.
  • Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Commission Inclusive Economy Working Group Evidence Report

    Davies, Chantal; University of Chester
    This report sets out an overview of the evidence collated by the Inclusive Economy Working Group (IEWG) in line with the timetable provided by the Sustainable and Inclusive Growth Commission (SIGC). It commences with an outline of the IEWG remit as agreed following consultation. It then explores the nature of inclusive growth (IG) and the legislative context. The report then moves onto a discussion of the data collected on inequalities at a sub-regional, local authority and national level before setting out the activities which are already being rolled out in relation to the IG agenda at a local level. Finally, the report will set out exemplar approaches towards IG beyond the sub-region before exploring how the evidence collated will inform next steps for the IEWG feeding into the SIGC timetable for action and the SIGC Report which was launched in November 2022.
  • Reinvigorating the drive to improve diversity across the legal sector through improved flexibility and targeted action

    Davies, Chantal; University of Chester
    An opinion blog on the need to ensure flexibility within the workplace to improve gender representation and diversity within the legal sector supporting the research carried out by LexisNexis on the future of law.
  • Working smarter, not harder, to address the gender pay gap in the legal profession

    Davies, Chantal; University of Chester
    Blog opinion piece discussing the need to work in a more nuanced and efficient manner to address the gender pay gap within the legal sector.
  • A Practical Toolkit: Eight Steps to Identifying, Supporting and Celebrating Student-Parents

    Todd, Andrea; University of Chester
    Unlike many cohorts attending university under the Widening Participation agenda, student-parents are not considered by the Office for Students to be an underrepresented group. They are not, therefore, required to feature in institutional Access & Participation Plans, meaning that student-parents, and their needs, frequently go undetected by their institutions and departments. The eight steps in this toolkit represent a practical (yet research-informed) approach to identifying, supporting, and celebrating this committed and motivated cohort. It includes some practical tips on how institutions and/or departments can complete each of the recommended steps.
  • Qualifying Work Experience in England & Wales: the opportunities and risks presented to university law clinics

    Todd, Andrea; Blackburn, Lucy; University of Chester; University of Central Lancashire (SAGE Publications, 2022-11-11)
    This commentary details the sweeping changes to the route to qualification as a solicitor in England and Wales brought about in September 2021, and considers the opportunities and risks presented to university law school clinics by one aspect of this route: the new system of Qualifying Work Experience (QWE). The article reflects on the opportunities for law clinic development, innovation and recognition offered by QWE and weighs these up against the potential risks that will need to be managed carefully to avoid them becoming a threat to law clinic enhancement. The article considers the results of an early data gathering exercise to garner clinician and student volunteer perspectives on QWE within its first year of operation.
  • A Game Changer? The Use of Positive Action to Address Racial Disadvantage within Professional Football Coaching

    Healey, Ruth; Cowell, Sophie L. (University of Chester, 2021-09)
    This research considers the use of positive action to address the underrepresentation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) managers and coaches within English professional football. It focuses on the English Football League’s (EFL) Recruitment Code as an example of such a measure and explores whether the Recruitment Code can be considered an effective or flawed form of positive action to redress the racial inequalities faced by BAME managers and coaches. Twenty-five percent of professional footballers within the English professional leagues are BAME, significantly higher than the general BAME population within the United Kingdom of 14% (Sports People’s Think Tank ‘SPTT’, 2015). Despite this, the number of BAME managers and coaches employed within senior positions in professional football remains disproportionately low at 4.6% (SPTT, 2017). At the beginning of the 2016/17 season, the EFL introduced a positive action measure requiring clubs to interview at least one candidate from a BAME background for coaching and management positions (EFL, 2017). Whilst there exists a body of research into the experiences of BAME managers and coaches and barriers to their career progression, the issue is still largely unexplored from an anti-discrimination law perspective (Veuthey, 2013). Further, research on the EFL’s Recruitment Code is limited. This research aims to fill this gap, by utilising a mixed-methods approach to explore stakeholder perceptions of positive action and the EFL’s Recruitment Code as a form of positive action. It considers the extent to which the Recruitment Code may fit within the legal framework and whether it may demonstrate the legislative approach of reflexive regulation working effectively. This research identified several barriers to BAME manager and coach career progression, including higher standards, extra pressure, lack of role models, the recruitment practices used, and the specificity of football. It found that whilst most participants within this research supported the use of positive action, they perceived significant confusion between positive action and positive discrimination amongst the general public. On the EFL’s Recruitment Code, participants pointed to a lack of transparency and a general lack of understanding, believing the Code would not succeed in isolation and should form part of a package of measures. When considered in light of reflexive regulation, participants also pointed to factors including a perceived lack of consultation, monitoring and enforcement that suggest that features of successful reflexive regulation, as outlined by Hepple (2011), are missing. However, some participants commended the EFL for implementing the measure in light of this perceived lack of understanding of, and support for, positive action. This thesis provides Pointers for Action at Micro (Club), Meso (Sector) and Macro (National Policy) Levels, including the need for greater education and awareness, transparent monitoring and senior buy-in, as well as a need to rephrase the concept of positive action. The thesis outlines how the EFL’s Recruitment Code has the potential to be successful if introduced as part of a holistic life cycle approach to addressing underrepresentation, but in its current format can be considered a flawed form of positive action that is unlikely to redress the racial disadvantage that BAME managers and coaches face. It concludes by detailing the impact that a successful positive action measure within such a high-profile arena could have on both football and the use of positive action generally, if the EFL’s Recruitment Code is adapted in line with the suggested implications and pointers for action.
  • A Climate Security Initiative: Another Way to Make International Climate Law

    Murphy, Ash; University of Chester
    This paper intends to strike a practical tone and focus on the possibility of a CSI being introduced as soon as possible. By exploring this option it is the intention of this paper to provide policy makers and those willing states a means in which to pursue a more robust climate response agenda. The paper is structured according to three main questions: has international climate law failed; what model of response and benefit does the PSI offer; how could a CSI be created to fill the gaps left by international climate law.
  • COVID-19 and the UN Security Council: should we expect an intervention?

    Murphy, Ash; University of Chester
    COVID-19 is a threat to international peace and security under Article 39 of the UN Charter, posing the question where is the UN Security Council? This article explores whether or not we should expect to see the UN Security Council engage the pandemic, and what obstacles may be in the way of such a move.
  • ‘This is not the People’s Government or the Democratic Will of the People’

    Murphy, Ash; Nehushtan, Yossi
    Despite the rhetoric from the Prime Minister’s office following the 2019 UK General Election, the appointed Government has no democratic legitimacy generally, especially regarding the decisions to leave the EU without having a second referendum and to make far-reaching changes to the UK constitution. This poses questions as to the validity of western democracy, particularly in the UK and USA.

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