Pupils at Oakham School have taken part in a mock trial at Oakham Castle to learn more about real-life court cases and how the judicial system works.
As part of Year 10’s GCSE Citizenship course, the class had been learning about courts and the legal system, which fitted in well with the session.
The initiative was started by the High Sheriff for Rutland, David Wood who had the idea to host this in the castle. The mock trials are organised and run by two magistrates who led the session. Pupils were given a real case to work with – which had been adapted for privacy reasons – and worked with the magistrates to act out the trial.
The castle offered pupils a realistic and authentic feel, having previously been used as a court for over 800 years.
The mock trial the pupils studied was taken from an actual case of common assault. The pupils in attendance took on roles in the trial working to a script – Defendant, Prosecutor, Defence Counsel, Witnesses, two members of the Bench, a Legal Adviser and Usher. The whole session was run by two magistrates: one a chair of the bench and one as a facilitator of the trial.
As High Sheriff for Rutland, David Wood has spent a considerable amount of time in the Leicester Crown Court and Magistrates Court and came up with the initiative to encourage more young people to learn about the judicial system in a practical setting.
David Wood said: “As High Sheriff for Rutland my key role is to support the Judiciary and uphold law and order. I was very keen that we hold mock trials for some of the schools in Rutland and I felt it would be far more realistic if the mock trials were held in Oakham Castle, which used to operate as a court.”
“The students will have experienced the real atmosphere of a trial in a real court. They will have gained an understanding into how the magistrates are appointed and work. They were given some information on how sentences, when appropriate, are applied. All this will have been very thought-provoking and put into practice some of what they learn in class.”
This is the first of seven trial sessions being hosted by the High Sheriff in Oakham Castle during February and March for four of the secondary schools in Rutland.
Miss Lamb, Head of Citizenship at Oakham School, added: “Citizenship is all about real life and we were really excited to seize this opportunity to put what we had learnt about how magistrates courts work into action.”
“Oakham Castle must be one of the best settings for a magistrates court in the country, but it is still intimidating. We were grateful to have two ‘real’ magistrates and a real case to work with. Seeing how complex it is to weigh up all the evidence and come to a decision makes you realise that the reality is much harder than it looks on TV.”
“I was proud of the students for their commitment to making it all work and their reflective questions.”
Find out more about Citizenship at Oakham School.