Every year, schools from across the UK take part in the Bar Mock Trial Competition, an event organised by Young Citizens which allows students to learn more about the British judicial system by taking part in mock criminal trials in real courtrooms. 

It is open to 15-18 year olds and each participating school gets together a team of students to take on the roles that would be found in a real-life trial, such as barristers, court clerks, defendants, witnesses and more. They then compete against teams from other schools in real courthouses, with real judges and according to the correct court etiquette. The students are given specially written criminal cases, which they use to rehearse with so that they can practise their individual roles in preparation. The competition starts with a regional heat, and the winning teams then go on to compete in a National Final.

For the Keswick School team, their first competition is on 14th January 2023 in Newcastle Crown Court. When asked how she feels about the Bar Mock Trial, Ellie Turnbull, who is taking on the role as a barrister, replied "I'm hoping to pursue a career in law, so the experience of acting as a barrister with a life-like court case will really help me out in deciding if this is definitely the industry I want to go into and will also give me the skills I'll need if I do want to".

Having had no Year 10 work-experience, this opportunity is really important to these now Year 12s. As Ellie told me, "You can't really do work-experience as a barrister, or, at least, it's very rare, so this competition will definitely provide that missing knowledge for me."

Another partcipant, Anahita Tighnavard Moghadam, said that the Bar Mock Trial "Gives you a great insight into the world of law. Being able to go into a real courtroom and actually act out a case is so much more engaging than if you were to just learn about it online."

And lastly, Joshua Dixon, one of the witnesses, told me that "you learn exactly what to say and how to present yourself, which is useful for if you were to take this forward and follow a career in law. Even as a witness, you pick up on what the barristers say and do and that's very helpful for educating us on the whole process."

The last Keswick School Bar Mock Trial team went to Newcastle in December 2019, won their competition and got through to the Nationals at the Old Bailey in London! However, due to the Covid lockdown, they never got to go. This is actually the first face-to-face competition that has been held since Covid-19; the last few have been held virtually, so this year's group are all very excited that they get to go to the real thing. 

Good luck Team Keswick!!