The Sheriffs' London Challenge - Final Contest at The Old Bailey
On Monday 27th March 2017, Lindy and I welcomed the Lady Mayoress, Wendy Parmley to the Old Bailey for the final round of the Sheriffs' London Challenge. This was a competitive project for 8 London Schools to debate the issues facing the capital city and what should be London's Main Priority. Heats took place and the two finalists selected for the Old Bailey 'shoot-out' were the London Academy of Excellence, based in Stratford and the Oasis Academy, Enfield.
The winning team were the London Academy, led by Sophia Akbari, who presents her view of the Challenge:
At the beginning of the New Year, we were presented with the project to highlight what should be London’s main priority. This was an innovative idea for us, as young adults, to explore, analyse and share our perspective, because often, our voices aren’t heard. I go to a sixth-form college based in Stratford, called the London Academy of Excellence, where my entire team come from various different boroughs in East London. When we initially were tasked with the challenge, we investigated the current problems that the Mayor of London is already striving to solve. I then addressed the substantial difference in the overall quality of life between West and East London, with the East being more deprived. I have been doing voluntary work for the past four years in different areas in West London, and have always noticed a healthier environment. With this in mind, I decided to take all the problems we discussed during our planning session to explain this division, as they all have a strong correlation. Thus, we believed and still believe that London’s main priority is to remove the socio-economic inequalities between each area of London, in order to create equal opportunities for all.
Our four main target areas include crime rates, standard of living, standard of education and the National Health Service. Our team consisted of many further mathematicians, physiologists, physicians and a couple of economists on top of that, including myself. Using our skills and abilities combined we came up with four very realistic and practical solutions that had low risk and great potential to be successful. After getting through our inter-school heats, we then added some strong members from other groups to ours, and now had more human capital to truly understand the depth of all our challenges and make improvements to our solutions. With about four days to put everything together, we attended the first official heats against the other London schools. Theses heats were held at the Chartered Accountants Hall near Bank; where we were presented with some truly compelling arguments, despite the other groups clashing with the same topics being analysed. The topics of housing and air quality were very popular. After Oasis and our group were successful we had two weeks to improve or change our topics.
The final session was at the magnificent Central Criminal Court (the 'Old Bailey') and began with us filming a live TV interview. After welcoming the Judges, we started our 8 minute presentations, arguing our beliefs and presenting our solutions. Oasis Academy had a gripping case about how housing was a problem in London; safe to say they were very tough competitors. This was then followed with a four minute rebuttal from each school, where we could choose to either counter argue their points, or reaffirm our own. During their eight minute display, I decided to make notes on any potential asymmetric information that would implicitly weaken their argument. I tackled against some of their figures, in particular their risky solutions, including increasing taxes even further and capping private investors for a maximum rental price. I argued that to introduce rules and regulations through government intervention such as capping the rental price, as they suggested, could diminish the incentive for investors to stay in London, which would decrease investment and reduce both aggregate demand and long run aggregate supply; having a negative effect on economic growth. Both groups were then questioned by the bench on the risks involved, some points mentioned in the rebuttal, and gentrification.
After an extremely close debate in Court 1, we all were waiting anxiously as the judges went to confirm their verdict as to who had won. After a networking session with some incredible figures in the financial, political and law sectors, we were then awarded the first prize! I was also fortunate enough to be invited back in the court after a special mention by the first Judge herself.
Overall, this experience has been a success for both teams, regardless of the outcome. It is an unforgettable experience that we were all privileged to be a part of. I hope these phenomenal opportunities are available for the future younger years, but this project will definitely be hard to beat! Finally, just another thank you to all who took time to organise such a victorious event, including our strong mentors, and I, on behalf of all who participated will always be grateful for it.
(16 Years of age)
Here are two video clips taken from the TV Programme 'London Live' - click on the image to run the clip.
Here are a few photos from the event: