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27 July, 2005

Young writers skills judged to be the best by top BBC journalist

Amika Chaudhry, 14, from St Bernard’s Convent School, Slough, who won the legal reporter competition, part of the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition, was yesterday invited to the BBC Television Centre to meet the producers at Newsround.

Amika commented on her win, "I was thrilled when I found out I’d won- I wasn’t expecting to at all. It has made me realise how much I enjoy reporting! The BBC tour was both informative and exciting – the icing on the cake."

Danny Shaw, home affairs correspondent, BBC News, who judged the 10 finalists’ entries, said that Amika’s entry consisted of, “A brilliant, incisive and gripping opening paragraph followed by a well-written summary of the story. Her headline was great as well!”

Organised by the Citizenship Foundation in partnership with the Magistrates’ Association and local magistrates and court staff, the Magistrates’ Court Mock Trial Competition aims to introduce young people to the legal system in an innovative and exciting way. Alongside the main competition, each team can nominate one or more court reporters who will attend the local heat. After watching one of the trials, the court reporter has 14 days to write a newspaper article.

The main competition sees teams of 12-14 year olds taking on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, magistrates and court staff in two cases. This year’s cases were 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 was judged by real magistrates and legal professionals.

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, whilst developing pupils’ skills of analysis, communication and team work. Next year’s deadline for entry is October 7th 2005

Further information

To find out more please email:

Notes for editors:

1. The winning entry can be found at http://www.citizenshipfoundation.org.uk/main/page.php?253

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.

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