Well, as usual, one minute it’s August and you patronise and pontificate to students that it will be June in the ‘blink of an eye’ and then, well, it’s June…….😆

Image result for college finished
(Courtesy of ‘keep calm-o-matic)

So, another academic year closes and that must mean we are all another year older….*sighs*….however, what a fabulous year it has been. Again.

Here is Mr. O’s lowdown on the year August 2018 – June 2019, in all its’ glory……

As ever, the academic year starts for us poor, decrepit lecturers in mid-August who return from a 6 week summer break with a toxic mix of fear and anticipation as to what the year ahead may hold 😂😂😂

But, I have to say, this past academic year was excellent in all sorts of different ways.

I created the ‘Nclanlaw Blog’ Facebook private group which has proved both useful and great fun with a growing number of members daily. I have especially enjoyed the way ( as I had hoped would be the case) that my students would embrace the idea and actively contribute by commenting on my posts and creating and posting themselves.

See the source image

I am always looking for and happy to have new members so feel free to search for ‘Nclanlaw Blog’ on Facebook and send me a request to join.

As usual I tried to make sure that my usual connections were involved in the various collaborations that I have set up over the years. I have excellent relationships with Police Scotland (who attended on several occasions throughout the year) and the SPS ( Scottish Prison Service). In that regard my sincere thanks to Inspector Stevie McGovern at Motherwell for his time and allowing his officers PC Declan Todd and WPC Gill Fothergill to attend and give highly informative talks to my students.

I arranged for a former student to attend in September and talk to our seniors about life at college and then university and, once I had applied the smelling salts to revive those that had the wits scared out of them, I think they found it very beneficial. Huge thanks to Karen Yuill for her time and advice which was much appreciated.

As a return favour we were fortunate enough to visit The Law Clinic, part of The Law School at Strathclyde University and my own old alma mater. This year marks the 25th anniversary of my graduation and whilst much of the framework of the university has remained the same it was remarkable to witness the changes. Incidentally, what a fabulous initiative The Law Clinic offers and truly innovative. I am secretly hoping that many of our students who have a place at Strathclyde will volunteer to be part of such a wonderful idea.

( Karen Yuill, second from right – yours truly 5th and a selection of HND students)

The Law Clinic is, in my opinion, a truly wonderful example of ‘experiential learning’, a concept that I am very passionate about. I believe that it is nigh on impossible for students ( really of any discipline) to simply ‘learn from a book’. Taking the principles that we teach our students and add to that to the practicality of ‘real-life’ scenarios is invaluable. It is also an extremely potent way of assessing the progress of a students. Really, any student, with the correct mindset and application, can learn and recall for an assessment. The practical application of certain skills however is an entirely different proposition and being able to conquer that transition from theory to practice is difficult and challenging but priceless in terms of the acquisition of new skills, which, of course are highly transferable and will prove invaluable throughout life.

In March I used a contact within the SPS (Scottish Prison Service) to take about 20 of my junior students to HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow. Infamous for so many different reasons I thought that this would prove ‘interesting’ but even I was taken aback with just how insightful and, dare I say, moving the day was.

NQ Legal Studies outside HMP Barlinnie, Glasgow in March 2019)

We were very fortunate to have Willie McGurk as our guide – a man who has been at the prison for over 35 years ( in an official capacity, I hasten to add 😜). What Willie doesn’t know simply isn’t worth knowing. He spent FOUR HOURS taking us into seemingly every nook and cranny of the jail – including, wait for it, several ‘prisoner halls’, where we chatted openly with the inmates and listened to their (often very harrowing) tales. Far from it being in any way ‘scary’ or ‘threatening’ it was a truly humbling experience and to listen and see how many of these young men, some with extremely troubled pasts, have turned their lives around was simply fascinating and quite uplifting.

I shall certainly be making this an annual event. My sincere thanks to Willie and all his colleagues at the SPS for an extraordinary visit. The time they put in to this visit for our benefit was truly remarkable.

One of my obsessions ( as readers of this blog and past students will attest to) is my belief that we have to introduce our students to the real world now and not simply wait until we have finished with them and have pushed them further along the chain to university.

So, in addition to various field trips and talks from the likes of Police Scotland, I like to try each year and bring a ‘high-end’ guest speaker to the college to give an insight into their life ‘in the law’. Last year, in February 2018 I invited an old friend and colleague, Donald Findlay, QC to speak to the students and it was a highly engaging, informative and humourous evening.

(DRF Q.C., and Mr O in May 2018 – here I am presenting Donald with an engraved quaich as a ‘thank you’ for his excellent talk)

This year I was absolutely delighted to announce that I had manged to persuade Lady Valerie Stacey, serving High Court and Court of Session judge to come and speak to us at the college. What a coup – a serving High Court judge that, in all probability, was sitting at the High Court in Glasgow either side of the few hours she spent with us back in April. A very unassuming lady, she spoke very well and engagingly and, perhaps most of all, her words would hopefully have given some excellent encouragement to the students about how much they can achieve with hard work, persistence and desire.

(Lady Stacey and I in April 2019)

Then, finally, in June every year, it is time to sit our ‘finals’ and see who is going where and who is not. Of course the juniors will progress, the middle year students will become seniors and our seniors will leave, most after 3 years of study and onto pastures new.

In June we said farwell to our HND’s. I was their course tutor and very proud of them. Even more proud when I report that 16/19 got an A in their finals, with 2 achieving a B. I is well happy with that…..🙂🙂🙂

(HND Legal Studies – Class of 2018-19)

And what a great bunch……I’ll miss you guys very much 😥

A terrific year then with an abundance of wonderful memories. Small matter now of a 6 week break and a trip to Marbella in July 😊🤫🤣. Batteries will be well charged to start all over again in August with a promise of plenty more of the same, organised by ‘yours truly’ ( Pssst – I have already arranged for 2 unbelievable guests to come and speak to us in the next academic year 😉).

Well done to our NCL students – see you back in August for more fun – for some you are off to pastures new – whatever that is I wish you nothing but the best. Remember you are ALL capable of greatness – never let anything hold you back. See in your mind what it is you want and DO NOT LET ANYTHING whatsoever prevent you from achieving it.

Have a great summer – and, as usual, thanks for stopping by, folks.

Mr. O 😎

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