The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity which runs a national active learning project called the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition.
The Competition involves a team of students from years 8 and 9 taking on the roles of magistrates, lawyers, witnesses and court staff to prepare a specially written case. Schools compete against each other in a live format at a real magistrates’ court.
In preparation for the competition students took part in weekly sessions and learnt about the court structure in England, how a magistrates’ trial works and the key roles involved, the difference between a criminal and civil case and the basic law around the example case.
Once students had chosen the roles they wanted to play we took on examining the details of the case which focused on a defendant charged with the offence of possession of a bladed article, contrary to section 139 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988.
Students had to examine inconsistencies in the witness statements, potential bias and how to question witnesses.
The whole team then came together to rehearse the entire trial and practice thinking on their feet.
Soon competition day was upon us! We had an early start to get to Willesden Magistrates Court for 8.20am. students arrived dressed as their characters and nerves were starting to show.
We faced Claremont School in the first round. Our team was defending and led the cross examinations of the prosecution witnesses. Our usher worked incredibly hard to ensure the trial ran smoothly and was commended on his performance.
In the second round we took on the role of prosecution against Alperton School, leading with the opening speech and cross examination of the defence witnesses. Our Legal Advisor assisted the magistrates with the law and was highly praised for his speech.
Our court artist beautifully depicted the day’s proceedings.
Though we did not make it through to the regional finals, the whole team worked incredibly hard and performed brilliantly on the day, demonstrating a wide range of skills including reasoning, public speaking, confidence and the ability to think on their feet which they developed during their preparations.
Well done to all the boys who took part!