Wednesday, 23 March 2016

The Magistrate Court Mock Trial Debate 2015/2016

Hello! My name is Amy and I am a year 7 student reporter.

On Saturday 19th March 2016 I joined the students of years 8 and 9 to take part in the Coventry Magistrate Court Mock Trial Debate. I learnt that each team needed to have 12 students who played different roles including prosecution and defence lawyers, prosecution and defence witnesses, legal advisers and magistrates.

It was a cloudy but dry Saturday morning. We all arrived at the Magistrate Court before 10:00am feeling excited and nervous. It was our school’s first time taking part and there was no wonder why Mrs Nguyen took us to the wrong entrance! We managed to find our way to the Court at the end.

In the first round our year 8 met the year 9 from Rugby Grammar School. Everything was new and strange to many of us. We were divided into two teams: Prosecution and Defence and went into two different rooms. The two teams of magistrates went to sit with a real Magistrate who helped us to run the debate.

In the court room, we saw the long bench where the magistrates from two schools sat, in our round it was of course our Whitley Academy one side and Rugby Grammar School the other side. The bench was placed beneath a royal coat of arms (which of course showed that the work of the court was done in the name of the Crown). We were told that when the magistrates entered the courtroom, it is customary to stand to show respect for the magistrates.

In front of the magistrates sat the legal adviser, our Sean Walton of year 8. Sean had to read out a long statement during the second part of the trial.

The Rugby Grammar school surprised me about the way they acted. Their defence lawyers spoke up with very loud voices and it seemed they had a lot of time to prepare beforehand. I was very impressed. Their defence lawyers kept being reminded by the Magistrate to avoid asking leading questions. We then learnt we should not ask leading questions, in a way, it meant we should focus on facts that were written in the statements of witnesses and defendants.

After the questioning part, all the six magistrates were taken away to discuss the final verdict.

Around 20 minutes later we welcomed the magistrate panel back into the room. The verdict was read out: NOT GUILTY.

After a short break we entered the second round of the competition. It’s the year 9’s turn. And it’s now time for the result of the competition. Everyone gathered in the main entrance to the Magistrate Court. We were very excited and nervous even Mrs Nguyen told us the most important issue was taking part. We realised we have learnt a lot on the day. 

This is the reflection from our team members: 

Michal (Prosecution witness): 
"This was something completely new to everyone including Mrs Nguyen."

Amy (Magistrate): 
“My favourite bit was when the magistrates went into another room to discuss if the defendant was guilty or not guilty.”

Holly (Defence lawyer): 
“It’s an amazing experience for all of us. My favourite part was when the defendant and witnesses went to the stand and were questioned by the lawyers.” 

At the end of the day we found out that we did not win the competition. However the Best Magistrate prize went to our Kian Rose of year 8 


Monday, 21 March 2016

Whitley Hosts 'Wolf Run' for Sport Relief

On Thursday 17th March, Whitley hosted a ‘Wolf Run’ for Sport Relief, with Year 7, 8 and 9 taking part.

Around 200 pupils braved the course, starting on the top field with a slip and slide under a very muddy cargo. They then went onto the middle level, and under the second cargo net to ensure they were completely covered in mud for the rest of the run!

A lap around the track and on into the woods they went. Up next was the bridge crossing and into the marsh land on the far fields. Once they had tackled that, shoes just about still in tact, it was back into woods to try and scramble themselves up the slippery slope and through the maze of rope. Up next was the tyre obstacle followed quickly by the hay bales through the Rugby goals.

The final finish was a penalty shootout into the top goals and then for a hose down before hitting the well-deserved warm changing rooms.

A big well done is needed for all the pupils that took part, the Sixth Form volunteers who marshalled the course, and the PE team for setting the course out over several evenings and the morning of the race. Mr Abbott is collecting all the sponsorship monies in and it is looking very likely we will exceed the £1000 target that we set.

Please look out for the final figure!

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

Whitley Students Speak at US Embassy

A blog by Amy Read, Whitley Academy Head Girl.

Thursday 10th March was the date of the 'Frankly Speaking Debate', in which myself, Imogen Foley, Louise Ainge, Tayla Twigger and Pavani Konda were apart of in London. 

After an early start (06:15 at the train station), we were on our way to the Benjamin Franklin House for the first 2 heats of the competition. 

We were split into two teams, Years 10 & 11 with Louise and Imogen, and Years 12 & 13 with Pavani and myself (Amy- the Head Girl). After the train ride and the first of many underground rides, we arrived at the historic house which seemed like the Tardis at first, as from the outside it appeared quite small but inside it held a great deal of history. 

The first debates were underway and we were on the opposition of ‘This house would reverse the recent decision by the British Fertility Regulator to allow human embryos to be modified’. The other team had logical and valid points as to why we shouldn’t reverse the decision, but they ventured off way too much into the possible future of modification, whereas we kept to the statement and argued why only a small group of scientists were granted permission to modify the embryos. 

For the second half of the debate, the Years 10 & 11 groups had the statement ‘This house would levy a tax on all high-sugar foods’. Louise and Imogen debated really well opposing the tax considering it was a hard statement for or against. 

The scores were totalled up and both of our teams had made it through to the semi-finals.

We were all aware of the statement for the semi-finals before the day but we did not know whether we would be for or against it. The statement read ‘This house believes that any American over the age of 18 should legally be allowed to buy a hand gun without restriction’. Though every team was hoping to be on the opposing side, which Pavani and I luckily were, Louise and Imogen were on the proposing side. Pavani and I had some hard hitting facts about the real dangers that hand guns in the US possess, but the opposing side were also correct in their points about the protection that guns give to the citizens of the US. 

Unfortunately, none of our teams from Whitley had made it to the finals; however, we had come very close. Nonetheless, we were still able to watch the finals at the US Embassy, London. 

We had to take our passports, and go through airport-style security to enter the Embassy and wear passes during our stay. The finals took place in a small theatre, where the debaters sat at tables on the stage. We only had a small amount of information on what the subject for the last statement would be, only when the finalists were announced did they give the statement: ‘This house believes that over the next 70 years, the special relationship between the US and the UK will grow stronger.’ The first team from Seven Kings High School, London were great at proposing for the statement and made valid political points about the past relationships we had had. The other team from The Studio, Liverpool were good, but one of their team mates seemed to crack under the pressure of an audience.

Seven Kings were the overall winners and one of their team mates won a 3 week trip to Washington DC.

All in all, the day was amazing. I learned so much about the extended mace debating style that we used and how to debate properly. I also enjoyed looking into the topics that we had to debate as it made me more aware of current events in the world and media. Hopefully we will return next year knowing fully well what is expected and the level of knowledge needed to back up our points and try to catch the other teams out.