'Teenage Blair' orator says he still talks slang with his mates

7th March 2003 at 00:00
JON Paul Rowden, 15, has mastered the art of Parliamentary oratory so well that he was recognised last year as the teenage answer to Tony Blair.

But he insists that winning one of the top awards in the Citizenship Foundation's Youth Parliament competition has not changed the way he speaks to his mates.

Jon Paul was named best Prime Minister in the contest, in which schools across the country produce a 20-minute video of a mock parliamentary session, including Question Time and a debate.

His school, St Michael's Catholic comprehensive in Billingham, Stockton-on-Tees, has been running mock Parliaments for the past 12 years to improve pupils' understanding of democracy as well as their speaking skills.

Jon Paul, a Year 11 pupil, has taken part in the competition for the past three years. It is run as part of the personal, social and health education curriculum.

He said it had helped give him confidence to speak in a fairly formal style. Participants were expected to adhere to Parliamentary conventions, such as using "the Right Honorable gentleman" or "lady" when responding to questions.

He said: "It's fun, but I wouldn't say it has changed the way I speak in all situations. It depends what the situation is.

"If I'm speaking to someone I don't know, or the headteacher, I might be able to speak in a more formal way now.

"But with your friends, you'll use a lot of slang maybe. It just depends who you are talking to."

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