Speculate to educate...

The first purpose-built "business academy" in Britain will include lessons for teenage speculators in making millions on the stock market.

To develop pupils' business and commerce skills, the management at Bexley business academy, in Kent, plans to construct a mini stock exchange and trading floor.

The floor will eventually include trading screens complete with software to simulate trading and a news feed from Bloomberg, the business news agency. "We will have traders working with us, and we plan to arrange visits to the City," said Valerie Bragg, chief executive of the project to develop the unique school.

The 800-pupil academy opened on September 10, on the site of Thamesmead community college. It is a partnership between Bexley council, 3Es Enterprises and a private sponsor, millionaire property executive David Garrard. The continuing pound;20 million redevelopment includes new premises designed by Norman Foster.

In keeping with its corporate ethos, the timetable at Bexley places high demands on its budding stockbrokers. The school day begins early, at 8.20am. After an hour of lessons, pupils get a 25-minute break for breakfast. Lunch lasts half an hour, with the day finishing at 3.45pm.

The aim is to fit the national curriculum into a four-day week. Friday will be devoted to business skills. "Friday is the flagship day of the week," said Tom Widdows, principal. "Staff can throw away the shackles of the national curriculum and do something creative." Courses on offer include business Greek, factory visits and the opportunity for pupils to run their own company.

But many pupils remain uncertain how they will cope with the extended day. "I'll have to get up at 6.30 every day - ugh," said 11-year-old Ryan Pioli. "I used to struggle to get up for 7."

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