Reflections on the Past Year

From the Chair of the Education and Training Committee

How fast the year has gone by. When I took over from Master Alison Levitt as Chair of the Education and Training Committee in January 2022, I little knew how eventful the next few months would be. The recent very sad death of Fiona Bartlett, so much loved and missed, after 15 years in charge of the department, had left an immense gap. Fortunately Struan Campbell, who had by then been working with Fiona for many years, ably picked up the reins to ensure the continued smooth operation of this vital function at the heart of the Inn’s activities. Amongst other things, Struan oversaw the department’s move back into its splendid new setting on the completion of Project Pegasus. But then his family circumstances suddenly changed, resulting in Struan, his husband and their family re-locating to the Netherlands in the autumn. The Inn owes Struan a great deal for his leadership in a difficult period of adjustment, and during COVID-19 too. We have been very fortunate in securing Gail Fleming from a post as Head of Education Quality Assurance at the General Dental Council to replace him.

As all who have visited or used the new Education and Training Department facilities will attest, they are magnificent. The new lecture theatre, offices, training rooms and break-out areas have allowed the department to expand and vastly to improve its offering to students and members.

Gail’s appointment in late 2022 coincided with Professor Cheryl Thomas’ decision to step down as Dean at The Inner Temple at the end of May 2023. Those who have been lucky enough to work closely with Master Thomas know how much the Inn owes to her for her great innovation and assistance in getting courses online during the pandemic and in setting up the Inn’s EDI training programme for volunteers, amongst a range of other projects which she initiated and took part in during her time as Dean.

Gail has hit the ground running. With ideas and encouragement from Master Thomas and expertly overseen by David Miller, the department has started a programme for established barristers. Events now in the diary cover a wide range of topics from artificial intelligence to financial planning to the Parole Board. The department hopes to develop the programme further and have sought the views of all established barristers through a survey this summer.

The Inn’s Qualifying Sessions programme continues to receive very positive feedback from external observers appointed by the Council of the Inns of Court (COIC), from students and from the Bar Standards Board (BSB) directly. Together with Julia Armfield, Master Rory Phillips has guided that important barque through some changeable and demanding tidal waters over the past five years.

At Gail’s suggestion, all education committee chairs – myself, Master Phillips (QS), Master Adam Constable (Advocacy), Master Saira Kabir Sheikh (Student Societies) and Master Fiona Jackson (Scholarships) meet regularly to share and discuss issues arising in the different parts of the Education and Training Department whole. We continue to maintain strong links with universities through our Academic Benchers and alumni of Academic Fellows.

This year we launched the Inn’s online EDI training, specially constructed by Master Faisel Sadiq’s working group under the auspices of the EDI Committee. The training has been tailored specifically to volunteering at the Inn; it is full of examples designed to support our volunteers in navigating a host of different situations. A new working group chaired by Master Vanessa Davies is progressing this further, reviewing feedback from those that have completed training and overseeing developments in the online hosting arrangements.

As well as Struan, we have said goodbye and thank you to Helen Gaskell and James Carlberg. In their places we have welcomed Gail, and Jess Brown as Outreach Coordinator.

I cannot end without thanking the Inn’s volunteers. They are an enormously entertaining group of experienced practitioners, great company and with a real commitment to educating and encouraging students and new barristers. If anyone reading this has thought of joining in, I would encourage you to do so as the training days and weekends are invariably great fun. But we recognise that they are time-consuming when there is also the day job to do. We are hugely grateful to everyone who gives up their time, we (literally) could not do it without you.


The Hon Mrs Justice Juliet May

Master of the Bench

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