Primary school children

Primary school pupils benefit from rigorous, imaginative and interactive challenges in the classroom. The Kalisher Trust education outreach programme has developed DVDs to do just that.

The Trial of Mr Bear

The first DVD, ‘Trial of Mr Bear’, was conceived by a children’s writer and, in 2014, filmed in the Old Bailey with a cast of eminent Kalisher judges and barristers. The script was developed in consultation with primary school heads, judges and barristers, a Hollywood script writer, and a Yale PhD philosophy lecturer.

Crown v Goldilocks

‘Crown v Goldilocks’ followed in 2015, with Sir Brian Leveson, President of the Queen’s Bench Division, as ‘Judge Grumpy’ and Max Hill QC as ‘Daddy Bear.’

Using the DVDs, and with support from skilful teachers in PSCHE (Personal Social Citizenship Health Education) lessons, we can see at first hand how sophisticated legal concepts and procedures can be embraced, processed and absorbed by children as young as Year 3 (7 year olds).

The central premise of the DVDs is that each child is a juror in a trial, with expert barristers filmed prosecuting and defending in front of a judge. Evidence is presented, for and against, with pertinent witnesses called to give testimony. Humour is an essential ingredient, but the overall message is clear: the verdict of each jury member is crucially important to ensure that justice is done.

Along the way, active debate at significant moments is essential. Is the evidence presented ‘likely’ or ‘unlikely’ to be true? How can we be sure? What motives might the witnesses have for saying what they do? Why are the barristers and the judge important? A Kalisher booklet outlining key stages of the trial is helpful, but the teacher determines the shape of the discussion to ensure every young boy and girl juror finds a strong confident voice.

The Trust seeks active primary school partnerships to develop further DVD material and to give participating pupils an unique experience of the law, the criminal justice system, and preparation as jurors of the future.