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Chippy repairs his old school

Whatever the findings of the City and Guilds study into vocational courses, there can be little doubt that they are an educational lifeline for many young people.

Graham Ball would still be stacking shelves in a supermarket if it he had not been able to return to school as an apprentice carpenter.

The 16-year-old dropped out of Kingsbrook school, Milton Keynes, last year with no qualifications. After a few months working in his local Tesco, he went back to ask for another chance and the school, in conjunction with Milton Keynes college, designed a course to suit his needs. Now he is studying for a carpentry national vocational qualification on day release at the college, while carrying out repair work at the school.

"I just didn't try in the classroom, but this is something I really want to do and I couldn't have wished for a better result," said Graham.

The school is now expanding the scheme to 10 "academically disenfranchised" students in the hope of preventing them from dropping out.

Dave Fennell, Kingsbrook deputy head, said: "It is likely to be the only in-school NVQ assessment centre of its kind within at least 50 miles of here and is being seen as a potential pilot scheme by the education authority."

Ray Renshaw, the college's trainer, said: "It appeals because students can see they can get at least a year ahead of their peers and be in demand for good jobs when they leave school."

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