Pupils learn forensic science skills for courtroom drama

Academy pupils from across the north east will be staging their very own courtroom drama at the Aberdeen Sherriff and High Courts in November.

Aboyne Academy pupils Chloe Ewen and Stacy Walker took part in the Forensic Science training at RGU.Pupils representing secondary schools from Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City will be making a case in front of legal professionals to be named the area’s top budding legal eagles during a mock trials competition.

Legal experts will be passing verdict on their performance during the day-long contest, where the youngsters will take on the roles of lawyers, witnesses, court staff and jurors – and even court reporters and press officers – as the schools compete against each other in simulated court cases.

The Aberdeenshire schools involved are Aboyne, Banff, Ellon, Fraserburgh, Mackie, Kemnay, Peterhead, Portlethen, Turriff Academies, and Gordon Schools in Huntly. Dyce Academy and Aberdeen Grammar School are the city schools participating.

Before they have their day in court some of the pupils involved had the opportunity to learn more about forensic science and how to present scientific evidence to a court.

This year Aberdeenshire Council invited the forensic science staff from Robert Gordon University (RGU) to share their knowledge with the pupils who will be expected to present scientific evidence during the competition.

More than 40 pupils visited the university’s new Riverside East building at Garthdee on Wednesday, September 25, spending time in the forensic science labs to learn about gunshot residue, drugs and DNA.

They were then taught how to present forensic science evidence in RGU’s Moot Court at Aberdeen Business School in order to support their competition preparation.

Catherine Inverarity, course leader of the Forensic and Analytical Science course at RGU’s School of Pharmacy and Life Sciences, said: “As well as receiving an introduction to forensic science, the skills the pupils have learned will help them prepare for the competition and give them the confidence to present the scientific evidence in court.

“We are proud to work with our partners at Aberdeenshire Council on this exciting project and hope the forensic science element of the competition has inspired the pupils to think about the opportunities a forensic science degree from RGU would offer their careers.”

At the culmination of the competition in November, two of the participating schools – each represented by up to 16 pupils with support from professional solicitors from local firms – will take part in a ‘final’ trial.

Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education, Learning and Leisure committee, Isobel Davidson, said: “It is great that Aberdeenshire Council is able to organise events such as this for our pupils in conjunction with its partners and sponsors.

“Finding new and innovative ways to challenge and engage our pupils helps develop their skills and interest in learning.

“The opportunity to experience the forensic science labs, the courtroom environment and the workings of the court service is a fantastic way to gain a fuller understanding of the judicial system in this country.” 

Vice chair, Ron McKail, said: “This competition will be a great experience for everyone involved, and I hope both the pupils and the professional solicitors thoroughly enjoy the day.

“It’s great to see citizenship being developed in our schools at the same time as we develop links with local universities, finding innovative ways of teaching.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s partners in the project, sponsored by solicitors Maclay Murray & Spens LLP, include the Aberdeen Bar Association, The Society of Advocates in Aberdeen, Scottish Courts and Robert Gordon University.