It’s a busy day at the Citizenship Foundation as we finish off the preparations ahead of this year’s national final of the Bar National Mock Trial Competition, which is being held in Belfast this weekend.
The sixteen schools through to the final are: Bishop Luffa School, Chichester; Chelmsford County High School, Essex; Dalriada School, Ballymony; De Lisle Catholic Science College, Loughborough; The Highfield School, Hertfordshire; Kesteven and Grantham Girls School, Lincolnshire; Mackie Academy, Aberdeenshire; Plymouth High School for Girls, Plymouth; Ponteland High, Newcastle; Prior Pursglove College, Redcar and Cleveland; Runshaw College, South Ribble; Urmston Grammar School, Trafford; William Brookes School, Shropshire; Wilmslow High School, Cheshire; Wootton Upper School, Bedford and Ysgol Tregib, Llandeilo.
Overseeing the trials, we have representatives from the legal profession coming from all over the UK to act as judges at Saturday’s final at Belfast’s Royal Courts of Justice: Mr Adrian Colton QC, Mr Gerald Hanretty QC, His Honour Mr Justice McCloskey, His Honour Mr Justice Treacy, Her Honour Judge Philpott QC, Mr Stephen Leslie QC, Mr John Cooper QC, Mr Christopher Kinch QC, Mr Christopher Rose and Mr Adam Hiddleston.
This year’s competition has been notable for a number of reasons: snow postponing heats until after Christmas, a medieval tournament threatening to cancel a heat and a school from Wales winning the London heat. More importantly, this year marks the competition’s 20th anniversary. It’s nice to think that a competition that started with eight schools in Reading Crown Court has grown into a national competition, with well over 200 schools applying to take part in 16 regional heats across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
It feels like a long time since we received the original school applications back in June last year, and the amount of time and energy that’s been put into the competition since then is quite remarkable. Not only is there the work of the students and their dedicated teachers as they prepare for the competition, but also the considerable time and efforts of the barrister volunteers, court staff and judges that make the competition such as success.
Regardless of who wins on Saturday, over 3000 young people have been involved in the competition this year, engaging with the legal system and learning about the law. With more schools applying for our mock trial competitions this year than ever before there is clearly a demand for educational opportunities like these and more than enough interest from the legal professional to get involved in the project. With the project as popular as ever and increased attention to issues like access to the professions, it’s an exciting time as we look to develop the competition for the next 20 years.
Good luck to the sixteen finalist schools – pack a sweater as we’ve heard it might snow!