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Bank on a lesson with interest

THE teenagers decorating their Portsmouth school are not the only ones getting a taste of the world of work this summer. But they are probably among the only ones learning about the world of finance at the same time.

Their pound;2.60 hourly wages are being paid directly into a Co-operative Bank account in an experiment between King Richard School and regeneration agencies in the city. They have been given cashcards with a pound;40-a-day limit, but also earn interest.

The scheme, involving 18 pupils aged 13-15, provides some good news on the the run-down Paulsgrove estate, which has been rocked by riots and demonstrations against alleged paedophiles during the past fortnight. Personal and social education teacher Jim Roberson said that attendance had been 100 per cent, despite the ditractions.

Mr Roberson - an American who also takes pupils on trips to his native Bronx in New York to show them that Paulsgrove isn't really that bad - called it a "work appreciation programme" rather than work experience. He came up with the idea after seeing similar projects in the States.

"This is the pre-work experience age. They're at a moulding age, and we're giving them a model," he said.

Pupils earned the right to take part by having 95 per cent attendance records through the year. They have been put to work painting classrooms and clearing the grounds.

Mr Roberson said they were taking ownership of the school, learning about banking culture, (an area of knowledge lacking in the community), and helping in a small way to regenerate the estate.

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