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Training of magistrates

All magistrates complete compulsory training before they sit in court and are required to attend continuation training throughout their magisterial career. The Judicial College (the College) manages magistrates’ training on behalf of the Lord Chief Justice.

The first year

New magistrates attend induction training and are assigned a trained mentor who provides close supervision and support. The first year also includes:

  • consolidation training
  • court observations
  • unconscious bias training
  • visits to prisons and probation services (for adult court magistrates).


Training is based on core competencies—checklists of knowledge and observable behaviour that magistrates need to demonstrate during regular appraisals. These are:

  • managing yourself
  • working as a member of the team
  • making judicial decisions
  • managing judicial decisions (for presiding justices, known as PJs).

Appraisals and additional training

Magistrates are appraised 12–18 months after appointment and then at least every four years or every two years for PJs.

As well as continuation training, magistrates are required to undertake training that the College considers essential. This includes training on domestic abuse, modern slavery, sentencing guidelines, and case management.

Magistrates complete additional training before they take on additional responsibilities like becoming a PJ, sitting in another jurisdiction or mentoring.

Our role in training magistrates

The Magistrates’ Association helps members develop their knowledge, skills and competencies through our learning portal MA learn.

Our training, learning and development committee coproduces materials with the College.

Our network of 54 branches host regular learning and development events for members.