Baroness Hayman grilled by pupils at the Wayland Academy in Watton

Baroness Hayman praised pupils in Watton today after visiting the Wayland Academy to debate everything from gay marriage to euthanasia.

The House of Lords member, and former Lord Speaker, attended the academy as part of the Peers in Schools Programme which she helped to set up in 2007.

It sees members of the House of Lords go into schools and sixth-form colleges to talk to young people about the work and role of the House.

But Mrs Hayman did not expect the grilling she endured from the inquisitive 14 and 15-year-olds with one daring pupil going as far questioning the right non-elected members to influence legislation.

Mrs Hayman gave a presentation which was followed by a question and answer session which saw pupils quiz her on all manner of topics including the role of religion in politics, stem cell research, House of Lords reforms, the justice system and the death penalty.

She said: 'I have been very impressed by the high level debate that we have had and some of the questions that I have been asked.

'The pupils here have shown a lot of interest and a good understanding on a whole range of ethical subjects and issues.

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'I certainly did not expect to have to deal with some of the difficult questions that I faced.'

Mrs Hayman spoke to about 60 pupils who are studying religious education at the academy.

Student Beth-Anne Singer, 15, said: 'It has been really interesting to have her here. We have talked about lots of different things in the depth we don't often get the chance to and it's great to hear from someone who knows what she's talking about.'

Assistant head teacher Paul McCann said: 'The pupils gave her quite a grilling, which I think she didn't expect and it's been a very interesting day.

'But even if she had a difficult time answering all of the questions properly we owe her a massive thanks for coming here.

'It's been a pleasure to have such a prestigious person from Westminster come out to this quiet part of Norfolk and it has been a great experience for the pupils.'

The Peers in Schools Programme also saw Lord MacGregor of Pulham Market visit City Academy Norwich, in Earlham, and the City of Norwich School, in Eaton today.

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