Ffynone House students became solicitors and barristers for the day when they were called to defend Ginny Weasley against a serious accusation of wand theft! Students spent the morning being defence solicitors; taking instructions from their client in the police cells, inspecting the custody record and observing a police station interview. Working in their law firm, they then had to analyse the case, investigate lines of enquiry, interview witnesses, map out the scene of the crime, draft witness statements and obtain expert evidence.
In the afternoon, having obtained further evidence, students became barristers, either for the defence or prosecution. The day culminated in a full courtroom trial with judge, jury, defence, prosecution, court clerk and spectators. Pupils were able to show off their advocacy skills, taking witnesses through their evidence (without using leading questions) or delivering a blistering cross examination. After closing submissions and much deliberation, the jury decided to acquit Ginny of the crime! However, as the prosecution team pointed out, it is a hard task to prove guilt beyond all reasonable doubt!
Aishah in Year 9 was inspired, “It was an exciting day! Even though we were still at school, it felt different. At times it seemed like we were interviewing real people and there was a pressure to meet deadlines. I enjoyed working with my peers and the courtroom simulation at the end was complicated but fascinating. It’s cemented my ambition to be a lawyer!”
In true Ffynone family tradition, the “law firm” teams were made up from a mix of pupils from Year 7, 8 and 9, all working together to decipher the full details of the case. Year 13 students played the parts of police officers, suspects and witnesses. They took their roles very seriously and by the end of the day were very much enjoying elaborating extensively in character when standing in the dock! The proceedings in court were overseen by Judge Jayan Patel, Year 7 pupil and formidable member of the judiciary!
“At the start I was a bit worried about working with the older students, but I found I could hold my own in the group and they were really encouraging. They helped to build my confidence in offering ideas and knew a bit more about how to structure our final statements. The day went so fast! I learnt so much about the criminal law process and how our justice system works in this country.” Dhruv, Year 7.
The bespoke workshop was created by Ffynone’s Business Manager, Mrs Laura Howden-Evans, who also serves as an employment tribunal judge. “I wanted the experience to be as close as possible to a real-world criminal investigation. Not only would this give students a taste of the world of law but also build on their problem-solving and team-working skills.” Mrs Howden-Evans facilitated the day and was always on hand to answer complex questions about law terminology and encourage students to persevere until they reached a well-supported conclusion. She has many more scenarios up her sleeve and hopes to make it an annual event at the school.