The coveted Bar Mock Trials National Champions title has gone to King Edward VI Handsworth School after its team won the Bar Council backed contest which sees non-fee paying schools compete against each other in mock court trials.
Organised by Young Citizens and funded by the Bar Council, the Bar Mock Trials competition involves schools competing throughout the year across the UK to reach the finals. This year, 24 schools made it to the final in Edinburgh's Court of Session on the 23 March following a series of regional heats. The final saw Banbridge Academy from Northern Ireland take on King Edward VI Handsworth School, winners of the Stafford heats.
The competition, which includes real judges adjudicating the trials, also recognises individuals who impress in the competition. This year, Rebecca Lea of Runshaw College, Leyland, Lancashire, was presented with the individual advocacy award.
Chair of the Bar Council, Richard Atkins QC, attended this year's final along with Malcolm Cree CBE, Chief Executive of the Bar Council, and Sam Mercer, the Bar Council's Head of Equality and Diversity. Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen's Bench Division and Head of Criminal Justice, and the Honourable Lady Rae, a Judge of the Supreme Courts (Scotland), together with Richard Atkins QC, oversaw the final.
Richard Atkins QC said: "It is marvellous to see the dedication and commitment of the pupils taking part in this competition and that of their teachers. They have all worked so hard to reach the finals and it is a pity that there can only be one winner. I hope that the competition inspires many of those taking part to consider a career at the Bar. The Bar Council of England and Wales is proud to support the competition."
The Bar Mock Trials is a unique opportunity for students from across the UK to gain unparalleled insight into the justice system. The competition immerses students in all aspects of a criminal trial, as they take on the roles of barristers, witnesses, clerks, ushers and jury members. Students appear in real courts in front of real judges and are assisted in their preparations by practising barristers.
Every year since 1991, the competition has supplemented traditional classroom learning by encouraging the development of essential skills such as logical reasoning, clear communication and teamwork. Students from all backgrounds and from all skill levels take part.
The Bar Council partially funds the competition each year. The contest is also supported by the Faculty of Advocates, the Bar Library of Northern Ireland, HMCTS, the Circuits and the Inns of Court.
About Young Citizens
Young Citizens helps young people become active, engaged and motivated citizens, who are able to contribute positively to their communities - whether those communities are local, national or global.
We believe that by helping young people play a full part in their communities, we can help strengthen democratic society. At a time when so many of our democratic institutions are under threat, our work is more important than ever.
Our work ranges from immersive learning projects where young people learn about the legal justice system to empowering children to take action on social issues they care about most. We also empower teachers and volunteering professionals with specialist training and resources for classroom delivery. All of our work has a single aim: to help young people be active citizens for life.
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About the Bar Council
The Bar Council represents barristers in England and Wales. It promotes:
The Bar's high quality specialist advocacy and advisory services
Fair access to justice for all
The highest standards of ethics, equality and diversity across the profession, and
The development of business opportunities for barristers at home and abroad.
Further information is available from the Bar Council Press Office on 020 7222 2525 and Press@BarCouncil.org.uk.
More information about the Bar Council's careers and social mobility work can be found here.