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Keswick School win regional heat of Mock Trial Competition

Friday 18th November 2016

Keswick School participated in the Citizenship Foundation North of England Mock Trial competition at Newcastle Crown Courts on Saturday 12th November. The students had been practising for the competition since the beginning of term, perfecting their legal arguments and witness statements in preparation for a challenging experience.

The team was made up of 17 students from Years 11 to 13. This included 2 prosecution barristers, 2 defence barristers, 4 witnesses, an usher, a court clerk, 5 jurors, a court reporter and a court artist. They were supported by Mrs Avery (Head of Careers) and Mrs Thomas (Head of RPE) and two barristers from Dere Street Barristers, Newcastle.

Eight schools were competing for a place in the national mock trial finals. In the first round Keswick defended case 1 and went head to head with local rivals, Cockermouth School. The court found resoundingly in favour of the defence! In round 2 Keswick prosecuted case 2 against Durham Sixth Form College and in the final round Keswick prosecuted case 1 against St Joseph’s Catholic Academy.

When all the rounds had finished, all the schools piled into one courtroom where the finalists were announced. These were Keswick School against St Bede’s Catholic Academy and Sixth Form College, Durham.

The final was a hard fight. Keswick’s defence barristers did a fantastic job and the witnesses, Ellie Dalton and Laura Wilson, stood up to some fierce cross examination. Usher Josh Pattinson impressed the judge when he strode across the room to prod a dozing juror!

Ultimately the panel of judges gave Keswick the win! The students received certificates and a shield and will now go forward to the national finals at London’s Old Bailey Court in March 2017.

Simon Jackson, the Head teacher, said: “To win the North of England heat and progress on to the national finals at the Old Bailey is a remarkable achievement in only our second year of involvement in this competition. It is testament to the students’ preparation and ability to think and react on their feet that they managed to impress the judges to such an extent that one remarked on pinching a few ideas for their future summing up! A wonderful achievement.”

Mrs Avery, Head of Careers, said: “Every single student was a credit to the team. This is only our second time in the competition and we have gone from strength to strength. We were technically very good and were commended by all of the judges. It was a wonderful experience.”

Samuel Hignett, Year 12 ‘barrister’, said: “The experience has made me realise it is not enough to work hard at something you are doing, you must also have a positive mind-set behind your work. There were parts I struggled with and took time over, but I applied a confident and calm mind-set that allowed me to understand the issues rather than simply dismiss them. You must have a positive attitude towards your improvement, as you start to enjoy working hard and improving, and experience success at the end.”

Bethan Savage, Year 13 ‘barrister’, said: “Taking part in the Mock Trial competition was one of the scariest and most exhilarating things I’ve ever done. The whole thing was like a game of mental chess, played not only with your team members but against people you’ve only just met. I am so proud of my team, and I know that the many long hours we put into our preparation have paid off. If I had the chance, I would do it all again in a heartbeat! I know now that I am definitely going to love studying law at university, as I have applied to do.”

Ellie Dalton, Year 12 ‘witness’, said: “It was such a nerve-racking experience, but I really enjoyed it. I just wouldn’t like to be standing in the dock for real: that really would be scary!”


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