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Pupils have played the part of Cabinet ministers in mock parliaments and they have proved more adept than Nick Leeson at handling investments in business games. Now they have the experience of acting out a real heroes and villains scenario.

Forty-eight fifth and sixth-year pupils from schools in the three former Tayside authorities and Fife decided this week on whether a new factory should be built on the outskirts of Dundee. They acted the parts of developer, transport consultant, hotel manager and campaigners from Friends of the Earth.

Decisions calling for financial probity would have been testing at times in Dundee's recent municipal history, but the geography and modern studies pupils were under the tutelage of Dundee University's school of town and regional planning. John Mawson, the school's head, said: "School-leavers do not naturally think about town planning or environmental management as future careers. Indeed they are often rather vague about what the subjects entail. "

Real-life planners of bits of Dundee showed similar vagueness.

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