KEEN legal eagles from 11 schools across Worcestershire and Warwickshire will be getting their day in court very soon as part of the 2014 Schools’ Mock Trial Competition taking place on Saturday, March 8.
Year eight and nine pupils from schools in Bromsgrove, Droitwich and Alcester will be teaming up to take on the prosecution and defence arguments in several carefully crafted mock trials at Worcester Magistrates Court.
Groups of 12-14 year olds will be taking on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates, court staff and the defendant in the competition organised by the Citizenship Foundation, which is now in its 20th year.
Students from the different schools take on opposing sides in each case, with each school having a go at the prosecution and defence, in a case about a stolen bicycle.
They have the chance to practise beforehand, building up their confidence in public speaking, analysis techniques and working as a team, as well as getting the chance to learn about all aspects of the criminal justice system.
Elizabeth Whitehouse, a teacher at Droitwich Spa High School, said “The children get to know, if they wanted to be anything in the legal profession, they know what the jobs entail, and they’re learning about law in action.
“I’ve been doing it for a couple of years now. I think the children get such a lot out of it, it’s a great experience for them. They become more confident, they see real cases, they know the parts that they’re playing. It brings their role alive, and they see people who have done something wrong and they could go to prison.
“They can’t wait to do it, but they are quite nervous. We’ve got a prosecution team and a defence team and they can play against each other, but they’re going to be cross-examined by people from another school. It develops that sense of competition, and we’re trying to encourage that a little bit.”
The students are judged by local magistrates and legal professionals, and awards are presented at the crown court, by His Honour Judge Robert Juckes, liaison judge, to the winning and runner up teams, outstanding pupil, and the best bench of student magistrates. The Press Cup for best court reporter is presented by Peter John, group editor of Midlands Newsquest.
The winning team from the day will then go forward to regional finals in Nottingham in May, with a national final due to take place at Birmingham Magistrate’s Court in June, pitting the winners from across the more than 400 schools involved, against one another.