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20 June, 2005

18 schools to appear in court

Organised by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association and local magistrates and court staff, the competition aims to introduce young people to the legal system in an innovative and exciting way. Teams of 12-14 year olds will take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff in two cases – one about chinchilla smuggling developed with the WWF and the other, a common assault in pub during an argument over a pool table. Competing against other schools in a real courtroom – as prosecution and defence – their performance will be judged by real magistrates and legal professionals.

Tony Breslin, chief executive, Citizenship Foundation comments, “All the schools are to be congratulated for reaching the National Finals of this year’s Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition. Over 4,500 young people competed this year in one of the only active learning legal competitions in the UK.”

“The enthusiasm and understanding the young people show for the Mock Trials is inspiring, but more importantly, the skills that they take away including analysis, communication and team work, as well as a sense of achievement from the whole process, cannot be underestimated.”

As well as being an interesting and engaging way of exploring specific legal issues using active learning, the competition enables teachers to deliver key elements of the citizenship curriculum. The competition is funded by the Department for Constitutional Affairs and Wilkinson, and prizes are donated by educational publisher, Hodder Murray.

To find out more please email:

Notes for editors:

1. About the Citizenship Foundation

The Citizenship Foundation is an independent charity (no. 801360) which aims to empower individuals to engage in the wider community through education about the law, democracy and society. Founded in 1989, we focus particularly on developing young people’s citizenship skills, knowledge and understanding. www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk

Our work includes:

• A comprehensive range of citizenship resources for a wide audience from teachers to young offenders.

• Nationwide and international training programmes.

• National active learning projects for secondary schools.

• Community projects to develop citizenship education as a collective responsibility.

• Research to advance our understanding of best practice in citizenship education.

2. The schools taking part in the final are:

Ailwyn School, Huntingdow, Cambridgeshire

Blessed Hugh Faringdon School, Southcote, Berkshire

Bushey Meads School, Bushey, Hertfordshire

Coombe Girls' School, New Malden

Eaton Bank School, Congleton

Holt School, Wokingham, Berkshire

King's School, Grantham, Lincolnshire

Limavady Grammar, Londonderry

Plumstead Manor School, Plumstead, London

Queen Mary's High School, Wallsall

St John's School and Community College, Wiltshire

St Monica's RC High School, Prestwich, Manchester

Tadcaster Grammar, North Yorkshire

Tapton School, Sheffield

Valley Gardens Middle School, Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear

Weobley High School, Herefordshire

Westcliff High School for Girls, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex

Wood Green School, Witney, Oxon

3. The Magistrates Association represents over 80 per cent of serving lay magistrates providing them with guidance, information and support. Increasingly it promotes public awareness of the magistracy through its Magistrates in the Community project which encompasses a wide range of public relations activities, including the Mock Trial competition, that are delivered at a local level. www.magistrates-association.org.uk

4. Schools wishing to take part in the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition 2005/06 can download an application form from www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk, phone 020 7367 0500 or e-mail MCMT@citizenshipfoundation.org.uk. Closing date for applications: 7 October 2005.

5. The Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition supports the statutory Citizenship curriculum for 11-16 year olds in England, which was introduced in September 2002.

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