LORD Patten of Barnes told pupils, staff and parents of St Benedict’s School, Ealing, this week of the lasting influence teachers can have on their students.

He was presenting the Patten Scholarship awards as a former pupil and now patron of the Roman Catholic independent day school.

Lord Patten stressed the vital role staff play in an individual’s formation.

He contrasted his St Benedict’s history teacher – a Christian socialist - with the Marxist atheist historian Christopher Hill, who interviewed and later taught him at Oxford.

While Hill had been an outstanding historian and teacher, he didn’t make the young Patten a Marxist atheist.

On the current debate around free speech on university campuses, Lord Patten said it was "important to appreciate the difference between an argument and a quarrel.

Three of this year’s five Patten scholars also spoke, describing how St Benedict’s had encouraged them to read widely, to be intellectually curious and open to learning about a wide range of subjects.

This year’s award for the most successful scholar went to Niall Wynne (Year 13), who intends to read physics at university and has been researching Airborne Wind Energy.

Lord Patten attends the Academic Scholars’ Evening at St Benedict’s each year. He is Chancellor of Oxford University, a crossbench member of the House of Lords and the last British Governor of Hong Kong.