I've had a day off from my job of raising money to reduce the Government's budget deficit and, rather than spend it playing Civilisation, or walking the Parish footpaths, or lazing in front of the television watching repeats of Top Gear, I've spent it with Ros, on a House of Lords school outreach visit.
It is, it seems, a little known fact that the House of Lords has an outreach programme, and the schools that tend to apply for a visit from a Peer tend to be relatively well-heeled, often in the independent sector. And yes, that probably means that their students are advantaged, aspirational and likely to succeed in life. The idea that, one day, one of them might be in the House of Lords is not entirely implausible.
Today's visit, however, was to St Clement's High School in Terrington St Clement, a village just west of Kings Lynn, in an area with genuine pockets of deprivation, where levels of adult illiteracy are above the national norm, and where opportunities are less than abundant. Despite this, the staff are ambitious for their pupils, and the headmaster, Dr Vicky Worsnop, is keen to find ways to raise performance across the board.
It's a sixty mile drive from Creeting St Peter to Terrington St Clement, and the weather wasn't very promising, but we covered the miles pretty easily, and pulled up at the school just before our scheduled arrival time. We were welcomed by Dr Worsnop, before being introduced to Abigail Cooke, who teaches Citizenship, and was to lead the session with pupils from Years 10 and 11.
And a lively session it turned out to be, with a series of questions prepared in advance to follow the Powerpoint presentation that the House of Lords outreach team has developed as a framework for an introduction to the work of the second chamber. They were good questions too, with the Coalition, immigration and welfare reform amongst the topics raised.
Afterwards, over lunch with our hosts, issues regarding funding of rural schools, student aspiration and transport were raised and considered, including the change in measuring school performance from a contextual value added base to a rather simpler value added base. Now I have to admit that I struggle to see the logic of that, as I was always encouraged to consider context as key to finding workable, effective solutions to problems - in this case, how to provide a good education in rural communities - and this change appears to work against that. I may need to give that some thought...
It was a good day out though and, once again, I came away from it feeling that I had learned a few new things.
* To arrange a visit from a House of Lords member to your school or sixth form college, contact the Lord Speaker's office on 020 7219 6444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.