The Magistrates Court Mock Trial Competition
The Mock Trial Competition has run since 1994 and each year involves more than 4,000 students from schools all around England, Wales and Northern Ireland. It is part of a National competition for Year 8 and 9 students run by Young Citizens and the Berkshire heats and Regional Final are all held at Reading Crown Court.
School teams of between 12 and 16 students learn about the English criminal justice system by prosecuting and defending a realistic criminal case. The cases are specially designed to be relevant to the age group and recent offences have included theft, assault, harassment by social media and possession of a knife.
It gives students a unique insight into how criminal courts operate and how evidence for both prosecution and defence is presented and analysed in the search for justice. Many previous competitors have subsequently gone into a career in Law. It is excellent for including on UCAS forms and CVs.
The Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition is part of the Young Citizens ‘citizenship experiences’ and helps to improve young people’s life skills, their understanding of the justice system and the legal system, and helps them to understand that the law touches every aspect of their lives. It develops transferable soft skills that can be used throughout their lives.
The students take on the various roles in a trial and try a case against another school with the assistance of real life magistrates, legal advisers, court staff and other legal professionals. Roles are varied and are different for different abilities.
Student participant, Witness, Ranelagh School:
‘I was a witness and I really enjoyed learning my script to be asked questions about it by the opposite half of our team’s lawyer. She was very good at being intimidating and thinking on her feet so I had to really up my game to match her skills. I think I rose to the challenge and I think that this experience has been great for my public speaking and my confidence as I am not naturally a particularly outgoing person but the others on the team are. Overall, this has been great fun and I have thoroughly enjoyed it.’
Ranelagh School – National Champions 2018
2nd Place – The Holt School, Wokingham
3rd Place – Charters School, Ascot