Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

English - Law in Their Hands: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

English - Law in Their Hands: Resources

Article excerpt

A courtroom setting will liven up formal letter-writing lessons.

The 12 members of the jury are restless for proceedings to begin. I can tell because it's the third time their foreman has thrown screwed up paper at the counsel for the defence.

"Would the Right Honourable Miss Carriage like to call upon the prosecution to outline their case?" I hiss. Miss Carriage adjusts her wig, replaces her glasses at the end of her nose and in a surprisingly imperious voice declares that the case of Smith versus Eddison should begin.

We have been studying formal letter writing in class this week, which has taken the form of solicitors' letters representing - and seeking hefty damages for - children who have been ill-used by their teacher. In this case, me.

If you think I'm putting ideas into children's heads, I would argue that we can't ignore reality. We live in a litigious age where a click of the mouse reveals several legal firms willing, on a no-win no-fee basis, to pursue compensation for children who have been harmed at school. Has your child been injured after falling from dodgy PE equipment? Did Britney twist her ankle tripping over a tree root at the teddy bears' picnic?

But learning to write formal letters, using polite language, a formal tone and a passive voice, can be boring if you have spent the past three weeks learning to write wildly thrilling adventure stories. Dramatise them, however, in the form of a court of law and the whole process becomes tense and exciting.

Jake Smith instructs his barrister (Ryan) to read out the formal arguments before a judge and jury. …

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