WOULD-BE diplomats benefited from an exclusive insight into international politics when Britain’s first ever Jewish Ambassador to Israel visited a Barnet secondary school.

Matthew Gould, 38, addressed sixth form politics students from four schools in the borough at Finchley Catholic High School, Woodside Lane, earlier this month.

Pupils from St Michael’s Catholic Grammar School, Hasmonean High School and the Jewish Free School were invited to attend, as Head teacher Seamus McKenna was eager for the wider community to participate.

Mr Gould, who is currently the senior civil service aide to Foreign Secretary David Miliband, talked enthusiastically about his new role, which he will start later this year.

He said: “I’m looking forward to my new posting and am honoured to have been selected.

“I never expected a Jewish person to be appointed to the job, but I hope my understanding of Israeli history and attitudes will be an asset.”

Mr Gould spoke about the work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), using the Haiti earthquake example to explain how British embassies worldwide must be ready to respond to unexpected crises.

He also talked candidly about the sometimes distressing nature of his work, recalling the case of Akmal Shaikh, the British father of three, who was executed in China last year, despite claims he was mentally ill.

Alex Clayman, a year 11 pupil at Finchley Catholic High School, said: “Mr Gould was very impressive while being very down to earth. It is reassuring to know he will be representing our country in such an important role.”

Head of Community Liaison at the Jewish Free School Jamie Peston said: “Our students found the session extremely enjoyable and appreciated the opportunity to attend.”

After the talk, students asked questions about a range of issues, including the impact on his family life of moving around so frequently, and the implications of a change of government in Britain for civil servants working abroad.  Mr McKenna said: “Not only were Mr Gould’s insights into foreign relations invaluable for those studying politics, but the expertise he passed on about the importance of communication and diplomacy will be remembered by all the students present, whatever career they pursue.”