TWENTY students from Calthorpe Park School in Fleet had the chance to meet their local MP, James Arbuthnot, on January 18.

The students, aged from 14 to 16, grilled Mr Arbuthnot on the subject of education, in order to help them prepare for filming the school's video entry for the Youth Parliament Competition.

The students will be debating education policy and the contest aims to teach youngsters about parliament and democracy. Each school enacts a parliamentary debate and films a segment for Prime Minister's Question Time, screened on BBC TV. The winning team gets to meet the Prime Minister's wife, Cherie Blair, at 10, Downing Street.

Kit Heasman, head teacher of Calthorpe, said of Mr Arbuthnot's visit to the school:

"This was a wonderful opportunity for students to learn about politics from a practising politician.

"The competition will benefit all the participants and I am pleased with the interest the students have in politics."

Student Kayleigh Clarke, 15, said: "Youth Parliament is a good opportunity for students to voice their opinions on current political issues. We are fortunate to be able to draw upon Mr Arbuthnot's experience of politics. I am sure that this will prove beneficial both to our competition entry and our general understanding of politics."

The school's entry was organised by Mr Gavin Horgan, the English teacher, who said: "The students really enjoyed the visit and were pleased to be given useful advice from an experienced MP.

"The team is very excited about filming in the Oxford Union debating chamber because so many famous people have spoken there."

Taking the part of the Prime Minister will be student David Parker, who commented: "Mr Arbuthnot was realy interested in the competition and our entry. He answered all our questions and it was an encouraging session for all of us. We were pleased that he was able to spend the time with us."

The live debate will take place on January 30.