Lads' mag offers a week with the girls

TEENAGERS are being offered a week surrounded by bikini-clad models at the lads' magazine Loaded as part of the Government's Connexions scheme to arouse over-16s' interest in education.

The Connexions website stipulates that entrants must be fearless and "interested in being surrounded by girls, anarchy and, well, more girls".

Students can compete for the work experience if they collect more than 200 points on smart-cards provided by Connexions, the service that aims to keep 16 to 19-year-olds in full-time education and offers pastoral support and careers advice. Teenagers receive up to 100 points each week by swiping the cards through a reader every time they attend a class at school or college.

However, teaching unions said they were unhappy that Connexions was promoting Loaded, which this month featured scantily-clad or naked "babes" and reports on French lap-dancers and a man who had sex with a pelican.

John Bangs, head of education and equal opportunities for the National Union of Teachers, said: "Loaded deals only with young men's basic interests. They should have found a magazine that interests 100 per cent of students."

Gwen Evans, joint acting general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said she was concerned at the magazine's portrayal of women. But she said she would not object to the promotion if work experience were offered at a similar magazine for girls.

Controversial company Capita won the pound;110 million contract to run the Connexions card from the Department for Education and Skills in 2001. A spokesman said it was in talks with girls' magazines Bliss, More and J17 to see if they could provide work experience.

Loaded editor Scott Manson admitted that the visiting student was more likely to find himself surrounded by hungover journalists than models, but promised it would be an educational week.

He denied accusations that his magazine was misogynist. "We clearly love women. It is about understanding women more."

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