PRIME Minister David Cameron took a break from his hectic schedule to answer probing questions from two Kelso High School pupils.
Third-year modern studies students, Molly Ingledew and Cory Thomas, both 14 and from the town, were selected from 20 youngsters at the school to join dozens of others from around the UK for a special visit to 10 Downing Street at the end of last week.
It was part of the BBC’s School Report initiative, an annual project involving thousands of students in hundreds of UK schools.
Pupils aged 11 to 14 learn to be journalists during the year, with the help of the BBC, before choosing the stories they think are important locally and globally and broadcasting them for real each March on News Day.
As part of the project this year, a number of schools were asked to choose two children, accompanied by two members of staff, to go to London for a question-and-answer session with Mr Cameron.
Beforehand, all the youngsters got the chance to prepare themselves with a special session involving veteran BBC correspondent, John Pienaar.
Mr Pienaar is Radio 5 live’s chief political correspondent and presenter of the Pienaar’s Politics radio programme and has been at the heart of the Westminster scene for two decades.
One of the Kelso High School staff to accompany Molly and Cory was geography teacher Gordon Dalziel – the other was faculty head Fiona James – and he said the fact the school had a link with the BBC might have helped secure it the invitation to Downing Street.
“One of our former pupils, Kevin Young, is now a journalist with the BBC. Each year he comes to Kelso for a day to help the students and I think he clearly had a hand in us being picked to meet David Cameron.
“Molly and Cory had two questions to put to Mr Cameron. In the preparation session beforehand, Mr Pienaar played the part of Mr Cameron to allow the students some experience of asking questions in that kind of situation.”
After a tour of No 10, the young interviewers were ushered in to the room where Mr Cameron came to meet them.
“Unfortunately, in the end I didn’t get to meet Mr Cameron, as only one member of staff was allowed in due to restrictions on space with so may people there,” said Mr Dalziel
“And although Cory wasn’t selected to ask his question, Molly got the chance to put hers to the prime minister. She asked Mr Cameron, as a female, what future did she have in politics.
“It was a well-received question.”
Asked what the Kelso pupils’ impressions of Mr Cameron had been, Mr Dalziel said: “I think they were really impressed. He came across as a very busy and focussed person but who still found time to spend 30 minutes with a group of school children in a week when he had to deal with the ramifications of the Libyan crisis.
“I’d also spotted him outside in Downing Street earlier with some severely disabled kids and he spent a long time chatting to them and having his photograph taken.
“Considering how busy his schedule must be, I thought that said something about the man, whatever you personally think of his politics.”