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Year 12 win through to finals of Sheffield Hallam University's Mock Trial

The experience of taking part in the Mock Trial has been greatly insightful, pulse racing and challenging for all of us. The Mock Trial is run by the award-winning Faculty of Law at Sheffield Hallam University and consists of debating current events in the University’s full-sized courtroom.

The first round, in March, saw our tenacious team of our Sixth Form Year 12s, Meg Hornsby, Sophie Judge, Janat Liaqat, Hadassah Nartey, Orla Drake and Niamh Sibley, debating on the motion: ‘Platform policies damage free speech’, with our team arguing against.

We were each able to draw on our personal experience, subjects and areas of interest when creating our arguments, which ranged from other more effective measures to battle the problems of giving platforms and examples of when platform policies are detrimental to society, such as the injunctions against the North Korean media, for example.

As inexperienced debaters, entering a courtroom and using language such as ‘my learned colleague’ and ‘I submit’ was an alien concept, but one which we took in our stride. The judges commented on our natural ability to work effectively as a team and our potential for being debaters, this allowed us to seize both a win of the motion, and a place in the next round.

One month later, and we were back in the courtroom, our hearts beating less with anxiety and more with adrenaline. This time, we were arguing for the motion: ‘In the digital age we should not expect our online activities to remain private’.  Our ‘learned opposition’ pushed us to our limits during the rebuttal period and our overall debate lasting longer than expected, but the judges were enthralled with our points and allowed us to carry on.

Again we were praised for our arguments and advocation but unfortunately, on this occasion we weren’t quite as persuasive as we had been in the first round. Yet, all was not lost! On the following day, we received an email informing us that due to the strength of our teamwork, we had made it to the final debate.

Exulting in our success, we soon realised that the final was not just a debate, but a criminal case! We look forward to defending our ‘client’ at the final which takes place on 7 July and on behalf of the team we would like to thank Dr McGregor-Jones for her valued support and belief in this not-so-seasoned debating team!

Meg Hornsby, Year 12

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