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Award for aiming high and hitting the floor

Fourth-year pupils at Dollar Academy learnt to walk all over the examiners thanks to work on a design project with a manufacturer of floor coverings. The company did well, too, winning one of two Scottish commendations in the Aim High awards presented yesterday (Thursday) in London by the Prince of Wales.

Forbo-Nairn, based in Kirkcaldy, the legendary home of linoleum, provided the covering for the floor of the school cafe two years ago. As part of an education-industry partnership, art pupils helped design the flooring and went on to score particularly well in their Higher art and design exams.

Six of 16 pupils who took part are considering a career in art and design.

The Aim High awards, run by Business in the Community and sponsored by BT, recognise companies that work with schools and colleges. The other Scottish entrant commended in the final judging by a team led by Sir Ron Dearing, principal author of the recent report on 16-19 education in England and Wales, was Midlothian Enterprise Trust.

The trust has advised senior pupils in Midlothian secondaries on how entrepreneurs are created. Pupils spend a day devising a business plan and facing an interview with the manager at their local Royal Bank. A personality test and business questionnaire assess if they are cut out for self-employment.

After a programme at Newbattle High the number of pupils interested in starting their own business went up from 10 to 50 per cent.

The Aim High awards are presented at regional as well as national level. The Scottish winner was Butler Building Systems of Kirkcaldy, which showed pupils of Viewforth High the importance of foreign languages in today's business climate. Staff at the school wanted to teach languages in a more vocational context and the company is interested in recruiting employees with linguistic skills.

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