Judgment day for pupils’ court skills

Mid and South-east Northumberland Magistrates Courts Mock Trial winners Morpeth Chantry School with the High Sheriff Mrs Harriet M Benson.
Mid and South-east Northumberland Magistrates Courts Mock Trial winners Morpeth Chantry School with the High Sheriff Mrs Harriet M Benson.

MORPETH pupils have had their day in court – and come out on top.

Youngsters at Chantry Middle School were among six teams taking part in the annual Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition, which aims to help pupils understand the legal system and develop their public speaking, thinking and debating skills.

Contestants take on the roles of everyone usually found in a court room, such as magistrates, solicitors, defendants, witnesses and ushers, to put forward the most convincing demonstration of the system in action.

And this year, the Chantry group won the Bedlington heat, beating off competition from neighbouring Newminster Middle School, as well as teams from Cramlington, Alnwick, Haydon Bridge and Seaton Sluice.

JP Lesley Dickinson said: “Once again, this was a keenly-fought competition and everyone got well into character. What also came through this year was the generosity and sporting spirit of the youngsters. When one of the teams was unable to field a full complement of roles and the other schools taking part supplied some of their own team members to help out.”

Competitors were able to visit the empty cells and see inside a prison van, courtesy of GeoAmey, try on full riot gear, and sample electronic tags with G4S.

The competition is organised by the Citizenship Foundation and the Magistrates’ Association, with support from local court staff, magistrates and legal professionals. Help was also given by the High Sheriff Harriet Benson, local councils and Rotary clubs and Greggs the Bakers.

Chantry Middle will now go to the regional finals in May.