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‘Ashlyns: full of smart kids’ – US Ambassador

On official business: American Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun (left) with Ashlyns School headteacher James Shapland

On official business: American Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun (left) with Ashlyns School headteacher James Shapland

Ashlyns School has always been a popular venue for film and TV shoots, but recent visitors might be forgiven for thinking they had gatecrashed a real-life drama.

Deliveries were re-routed by plain-clothed members of the Met Police’s Diplomatic Protection Group and all traffic in and out ceased.

Once the all-clear was given, American Ambassador to the UK Matthew Barzun, together with US Cultural Attaché Michael Dubray and additional security, drove through Ashlyns’ gates.

The visit was part of a programme of talks designed to enable sixth form students to be addressed by, and pose questions to, speakers from many different cultures and backgrounds.

Previous speakers have included Nelson Mandela’s god-daughter, a relative of Anne Frank and Michael Dubray – who returned with Mr Barzun for his talk last Wednesday.

The talks are organised by Paul Harland, a government and politics teacher at the school in Chesham Road, Berkhamsted.

Mr Barzun’s talk allowed students to ask questions on topics including Ukraine, Guantanamo, policing international security, gun control, the recent government ‘gridlock’ in the US, religion and politics. Students were impressed by the surprise visit of such a high-profile guest and commented on how much they learned from the visit.

Headteacher James Shapland thanked Mr Barzun for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk in the packed Ashlyns School chapel.

Mr Shapland said: “We provide unique and wide-ranging opportunities for our students to engage with the wider world, to ensure they can fully appreciate the responsibilities and privileges of global citizenship.”

As the ambassador and his entourage departed, Mr Barzun tweeted: “Had a great morning. Smart kids who knew a lot about the US Constitution.”

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