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St Stephen’s Primary School children take the Law School by storm

They came; they saw; they loved it!

72 year 5 and year 6 children from St Stephen’s Primary School in Broadgate, Preston walked their teachers and classroom assistants up to Lancashire Law School for a day out in our Moot Court Room.

They arrived bright and early in their luminous reflective safety coats and descended on the serious corridors of the Law School like a swarm of chattering locusts, ready to feast on all that we could offer!

Such offerings included a courtroom experience based on the real life case of Valentine Marshall, a 17 year old accused of rioting in October 1831 – as part of the Reform Bill Riots. In the early 1800S, the hierarchy of society was valued greatly. The Judge and aristocrats believed that everyone had their own place, the poor at the bottom and the rich at the top. Voting rights only afforded 3% of the entire populations to right to vote – just 214,000 people – and these were men, who owned property with an annual value of at least £10 – this excluded 6 out of 7 men…..more than! .   Shortly before Lord Justice Littledale was sent to Nottingham, he was called before King William IV who persuasively suggested that the Judge should find at least some guilty verdicts at the trials and sentence those guilty parties to death. The King wanted the men to be publicly made an example of, to warn any other rioters of what the penalty for this crime would be. It is clear that he King wanted a quick and easy way of putting a stop to the uproar. Lord Justice Littledale accepted the King’s bargain graciously but only upon agreeing a payment to do so. In other words the Judge was bribed.

The penalty for Valentines alleged misdemeanours was hanging.  The children were fantastic in their wholehearted participation as defendant, lawyers, witnesses and jury (not to mention some excellent play-acting from their very own Mrs Cookson and Mr McDonald in the role of judge!).  We were really impressed by their enthusiasm and dramatic skills and the jury took their responsibilities very seriously as they found poor Valentine guilty as charged. Everyone had a chance to dress up in our wigs and gowns at the end causing much entertainment for all.

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When they weren’t in the Moot Court Room, they were learning about crime and punishment in Victorian times and were thrilled to discover that almost any crime was punishable by hanging.  It was just the lucky convicts who got a sentence of transportation instead.

The locusts in them re-emerged at lunchtime when they munched their way through a mountain of sandwiches and cookies.  The cookies were a particular favourite with them all although some of the cheese sandwiches were less warmly received…. “Everything was amazing. The court was really good. The fun bit was dressing up…. The only down side was that the sandwiches tasted horrible, especially the cheese…..”

You just can’t please all the people……..!

A good day was had by all so a big thank you to the Law School team of Viv, Martin, Lucy, Zanele and Tina (who needed a quiet lie down in a darkened room at the end of the day – it just goes to show what levels of energy you need to keep up with 10 and 11 year olds!).

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PS  We also managed to set up at least one Law School recruit for the future……..

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