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Paid-as-you-learn scheme is not work experience

Whatever the rights and wrongs of Barclays Bank employment of school students, it must not be allowed to call it "work experience".

Work experience is arranged by schools, often at great expense of time and expertise, for one or two weeks of genuine full-time experience of work.

The students are not paid. This is crucial. Children and their parents must not be led to expect payment: companies are giving their time, knowledge and patience, and any help they get in return is an unexpected bonus. Employers must not therefore feel any pressure to reward.

Employees must not feel threatened by the presence of these youngsters.

It is because there is a clear understanding of this between schools and local companies that the scheme works so well in many areas. Indeed, Barclays Bank branches themselves take part, with very successful programmes.

But if Barclays Bank is paying Year 11 pupils, it must be honest and admit to employing part-time casual labour, just like newsagents and corner shops.

JEN PARRY 153 Park Road Didcot Oxfordshire

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