Deputy PM Nick Clegg defends policy on gangs

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has insisted government policy is providing an alternative to young people tempted to join gangs.

The Liberal Democrat leader was asked about cutbacks to the Connexions youth service by Danny, a pupil from Brent.

In response to a lighter question, Mr Clegg admitted his mum still told him what to do - but these days by email.

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Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is quizzed by the 12 School Reporters

All three UK party leaders are being grilled by students as of the BBC's School Report project.

Their interview with Prime Minister David Cameron will be broadcast on Radio 4's The World at One on Friday, and the other leader interviews will follow on subsequent programmes.

Welsh, Scottish and Northern Irish leaders will also be be on the receiving end of the School Reporters' questions.

Olympic defence

During Thursday's interview, Mr Clegg was questioned on topics ranging from the Olympics to immigration.

In response to Danny's question about gangs, he said turning the economy around and providing jobs would "give people and sense of purpose and hope", and was "probably in the long run the most important thing of all".

Acknowledging the cutbacks to the Connexions service, he said the Pupil Premium - extra money paid to schools for disadvantaged pupils - would put the onus on schools to help.

The students are being mentored by Martha Kearney - presenter of Radio 4's The World at One news programme - who tweeted after the interview with Mr Clegg that there were "some budding Paxmans" among them.

And Chris, a student from Lagan College in Northern Ireland, made his mark by asking how people in his part of the UK would benefit from spending on the Olympics.

Mr Clegg insisted the event would increase investment and tourist expenditure despite the fact that so much focus would inevitably be on London.

'Controversial'

Khadija from Copland Community School in Middlesex said her school was in a state of disrepair, with "cracks in the walls covered by paper", and asked what Mr Clegg was going to do about it.

He admitted the scrapping of the Building Schools for the Future programme had been "controversial", but said money being put into schools was "dramatically increasing" through the Pupil Premium and in addition billions of pounds would go to improving school buildings and surroundings.

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My mum still tells me what to do - Clegg

On a lighter note, asked about whether he did his own food shopping Mr Clegg said he did, and that he went to Waitrose and Sainsbury's - because they were the closest to his home.

"You bet," he replied to a question about whether his mum still told him what to do, but these days via email - "the instruction always comes through", he said.

Asked about his morning routine by Jennifer from Bannockburn High School, he said his children got him up at 0530 - which meant "because I'm so bleary-eyed, perhaps I'm not quite as quick as I should be".

The theme for the 2012 School Report political interviews is young people and their future, with 12 reporters from six schools across the UK firing the questions to heavyweight political figures.

The full version of Mr Clegg's interview will be available on the School Report website on News Day on 15 March.

Last year Prime Minister Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband were involved in last year's School Report project and were quizzed in the style of press conferences.

School Reporters' engagement with political issues does not stop at interviewing political leaders.

At many of the schools taking part in the project, local MPs and councillors are also called upon to give their views on a huge range of topics.

School Report is an annual BBC project which helps young people make their own news reports for a real audience.

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