A Sheriff’s Challenge, To Judge…

Sponsored by the Financial Services Livery Companies (FSG) and administered by the Worshipful Company of Educators

The Sheriffs’ Challenge is an inspiring initiative begun by our predecessors, a transformational experience for Year 12 students from 12 London schools to compete on delivering presentations with the final at the Old Bailey in Court Number One. Aldermen Peter Estlin and William Russell started this in their shrieval year of 2016/2017. Brother Sheriff Chris Hayward and I set a two-part question and judged the fourth, Sheriff’s Challenge 2020.

What will be the impact of climate change on the City of London?

How will this influence the conduct of City businesses?

The teams were sponsored by the Financial Services Group[1] of livery companies (FSG). Each team was coached/mentored by a member of one of these livery companies, as well as having a supporting staff member from their school.

London Academy of Excellence
(Worshipful Company of World Traders, coach Ben Papé )

Students say that participating in the Sheriffs’ Challenge speaking event has transformed their levels of confidence and their career aspirations. Increased self-esteem and learning how to express themselves under pressure have been key personal development steps taken by members of the 14 teams who participated from Academies and state-maintained schools in London. This year’s Year 12 students fully concurred with the previous three year’s participants.

“Before the Sheriffs’ Challenge I couldn’t have spoken in public like that; I’m so proud of myself.”

Not all sixth formers have the opportunity in school, or in their wider life, to work as a team and then to present their material and arguments orally in a formal and challenging setting. The Sheriffs’ Challenge is designed specifically to give this opportunity. It also gives students the experience of presenting themselves in a City context and for them to see what social mobility opportunities are available to them in the future.

Mulberry Academy Shoreditch
(Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators)

The Heats in February at the University of Coventry, London, gave all the team members the opportunity to develop and use their skills in planning, working as a team, mastering the content and presenting it engagingly to make an impact. Each team received kind, but focused, feedback from FSG Livery judges, so that the event was not merely a competition, but most importantly a valuable learning experience, and fun. Every student received a certificate to mark the excellent step they had taken, whether or not their team was a finalist.

The winners: King’s College London Mathematical School
(Worshipful Company of Actuaries)

The Final at the Old Bailey on 12 March raised the stakes higher, with the additional criterion of answering questions on the material posed by the Sheriffs themselves, Alderman Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli and Sheriff Christopher Haywood CC, and also by two Old Bailey Judges, HHJ Rebecca Poulet and HHJ Anuja Dhir. I must say, that it was enlightening too for the Sheriffs to see real judges in deliberations behind the scenes. Rebecca and Anuja were courteous, thorough, and diligent in their judging, but also forceful in presenting their recommendations, i.e. what naturally became our ‘joint’ decision. It was a pleasure to see how their minds worked judging things other than criminal trials.

The Old Bailey venue presenting before real judges (and sheriffs) was the highlight of the event for the three finalist teams: King’s College London Mathematical School (Worshipful Company of Actuaries), London Academy of Excellence (Worshipful Company of World Traders), and Mulberry Academy Shoreditch (Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators), the first of which was the overall winning team.

Alderman Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli presenting the cup to
the Captain of King’s College London Mathematical School

Again Court Number One was the location for this impressive Final, redolent of celebrity criminal presences in the Dock such as the Kray twins, Dr Crippen, the Yorkshire Ripper and Ruth Ellis. In this event the Dock was graced by innocent celebrities: Dr Lis Goodwin, Immediate Past Master of the Educators, and Andrew Marsden, Chair of the FSG; the court officials had to lock the door leading into the Dock from the cells below to avoid unwelcome intruders!

Alderman Sheriff Professor Michael Mainelli, HHJ Rebecca Poulet, and HHJ Anuja Dhir with the winning team

As last year, the Educators managed the event with Master Pam Taylor strictly keeping time, Immediate Past Master Lis Godwin who had taken on the difficult role of Moderating Judge to achieve consistency across the Heats and Liveryman Anne Punter sorting other matters.

[1] Financial Services Group Livery Companies supporting the school teams in 2020 were: WC of Chartered Surveyors, WC of Chartered Accountants, WC of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators, WC of Marketors, WC of Actuaries, WC of Insurers, WC of Information Technologists, WC of World Traders, WC of International Bankers, WC of Tax Advisors and The Guild of Entrepreneurs.  FSG Liverymen agreeing to be Heat judges were: Andrew Marsden, Chair of the FSG, Beverley Turner (Accountants), Marcus Fincham (Tax Advisors), Judy Hadden (Entrepreneurs), Mark Sismey-Durrant (International Bankers), Rosemary Beaver (Insurers), Sandra Worsdall (Secretaries and Administrators), Lady Wendy Parmley (Information Technologists), and Sally Bridgeland (Actuaries).