It was an interesting day yesterday, in ways that one might not expect, especially north of the Waveney.
Having taken the day off, we drove up to Norwich, where Ros was scheduled to take part in the Lords outreach programme (you didn't know about it?), in a visit to Notre Dame High School, right in the heart of the city. I'd not been to one of these before, so I was intrigued to see how such visits worked.
As we made our way up the A140, I read the briefing notes provided by the Outreach Office and noted that our host was Antony Little. That rang a bell in the recesses of my memory and so I checked. And lo, my suspicions were right, it was indeed Simon Wright's Conservative 2010 General Election opponent in Norwich South, and a now rather more erratic blogger than once he was. Interesting, I thought...
We found the school easily enough, and had time for tea with the headmaster and Antony, who is Head of Politics, before meeting the students.
Ros started with a PowerPoint presentation about the Lords. It's a bit heavy, and a mite ponderous for a group of eleven to fourteen years old, and Ros skated through it to an extent before opening the floor to questions. The students seemed a mite stunned by all of the information at first but, as questions came, and Ros answered them, the trickle became a flood, and the room became a forest of raised hands seeking their chance to ask a question.
And some very good questions they were too. Immigration, Scottish independence, tuition fees, all of them answered without spin and without too much simplification.
Ros does enjoy these opportunities, and there are plenty of schools who want a visit. In the East of England, however, there aren't as many Peers available to do them, as the ex-MPs are, I suspect, a bit too grand to do them, and many of the others are either too old, or too busy with other things.
And one other thing that I have noted is that the invitations tend to come from fee-paying schools or from highly aspirational State schools. Is that a sign that, as in so many things, low aspiration denies opportunity? I don't know, but I can't help but feel that if you are serious about improving social mobility, the aspirations of schools have to be raised too, as a means of enhancing the aspirations of the pupils in them.
But, all in all, it was an entertaining afternoon and I was sorry that it had to come to an end. Our day was not over though...