Money, money, study

David Henderson

Delivering papers and minding the shop are the two most popular jobs outside school for young people in the Falkirk area, according to a survey of more than 700 pupils across the authority's eight secondaries.

But almost one in five believe their jobs have an adverse effect on school work. Three per cent say they truant to work.

Ministers have this session finally found the cash to allow all authorities to implement the educational maintenance allowance (EMA) initiative in an attempt to end the dependence of young people from lower income families on part-time jobs.

But Falkirk young people, particularly girls, appear to enjoy their work, which is mostly at weekends, holidays and evenings. Fewer had jobs immediately before or after the school day.

Almost four out of 10 pupils between S3 and S6 have some kind of job and in two secondaries, St Mungo's and Grangemouth, some 55 per cent of pupils work. At Denny High, where nearly 37 per cent of pupils work, almost one in three (30.4 per cent) admit their jobs get in the way of their studies.

This compares with an average for the authority of 18.3 per cent.

Falkirk officials say that among the benefits of a regular job are the experience of a working environment, timekeeping and an appreciation of the value of money. Pupils may also give more thought to their future careers.

On the downside, working excessively long or late hours can hit study in school and homework. A new by-law on the employment of children should help counter the negative aspects of jobs outside school, officials believe.

The Falkirk study follows concern in the authority about attainment in its secondaries and echoes a similar study in Renfrewshire, which was confined to S5 and S6 pupils. Researchers from Paisley University concluded that around 10 hours a week was the optimum length of work for all-round benefits.

A Scottish Executive national survey of work patterns among S3 to S6 pupils is due to report in December next year.

The Falkirk study reveals that over half of pupils (56 per cent) are working or have worked in the past, with 43 per cent of girls and 33 per cent of boys currently in a job. Almost one in three (32 per cent) work for longer than 10 hours a week and 13 per cent work for more than 15 hours.

Just under 17 per cent worked before the start of the school day and just under 58 per cent work on three or fewer days a week. Saturdays and Sundays are the most commonly worked days.

Most (37 per cent) earned less than the former minimum wage of pound;3.60 an hour at the time of the survey and 33 per cent earned between pound;3.60 and pound;4.20 an hour. Only a little over 7 per cent earned more than pound;10 an hour.

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David Henderson

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