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Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
Gordon Brown's schooldays
By Ben Davies
BBC News political reporter

The well known adage "never work with children or animals" could just as well apply to politicians who should always be wary of young people's questions - as Gordon Brown has found out.

Gordon Brown
The chancellor made an interesting confession

The chancellor was on a visit to his old school in Kirkcaldy where he was asked a series of questions by pupils.

Having confessed a love of sport and admitted to being "totally useless" at art the chancellor was asked to reveal the funniest thing he had ever done to his teachers.

"Are the police still here?" he asked laughing nervously.

"Some of my friends - I don't know what we were penalising the teacher for - but they sent an undertaker to the house of the head history teacher. It was quite an amazing incident and it caused all sorts of ructions and it was really very bad," said Mr Brown.

A first year pupil called Nicola Taylor asked the chancellor if he was a 'straight A' student or did he struggle in any subjects?

Successful experiment?

"Many subjects, many subjects," Mr Brown jovially replied.

"I've just been in some art classes, I was totally useless at art, I wasn't actually very good at music, I wasn't very good at science, but you met teachers and in English or history or mathematics I got great opportunities.

"You don't need to be good at all subjects, you need to be good at many subjects, but you need to try hard at every subject. That is the lesson I learnt."

And try he did. The chancellor took his O-levels when he was just 14 and his Highers - the Scottish equivalent of A-levels - the following year. By the time he was 20 he had a first class degree in History from Edinburgh University, where he went on to complete a PhD.

Mr Brown said he had only managed this by moving up early from primary school at 10.

"It was an experiment and I've met a lot of people who were part of it and I don't think the experiment was incredibly successful in the end because I think it did sometimes push people too far. But I do think when people have talents or abilities they should be able to go as far as they can."

Maybe advancing people in particular subjects, but not all, when they were very able would be a good idea, he mused.

In response to another question, Mr Brown said among the biggest challenges he faced was ensuring people's hard earned cash was properly prioritised when he made spending decisions.

Brown hails 'Budget for schools'
22 Mar 06 |  UK Politics


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