A TES-sponsored competition is helping the drive to kill the image of a civil service staffed by Sir Humphrey Applebys
Three sixth-formers in Birmingham mixed homework with dome work and won praise from top civil servants.
Chloe Lenton, Louise Murray and Kerry Thomas, all 18, are the winners of the Civil Service Fast Stream Challenge - a competition sponsored by The TES together with Research Machines and Microsoft, and designed to increase young people's awareness of Civil Service careers.
It is part of a wider campaign to banish the idea that the Civil Service is full of Sir Humphreys. Market research has shown that many young people still have an outdated image of the Civil Service .
The students were asked to thin up project to mark the millennium and then prepare a bid for funds to a fictional government minister.
The teenagers, all pupils at King Edward VI Camp Hill girls' school in King's Heath, worked on the competition last year.
Their winning idea was a website to commemorate King's Heath's growth as a community.
Chloe, who is studying A-level geography, economics and English, said: "We went out to King's Heath and carried out a survey, asking people if they thought a website was a good idea and most of them did.
"So we put together a bid. We think it is a really good idea because it is cheap and accessible to everyone - a lot of people feel isolated from the celebrations planned for the Millennium Dome in Greenwich."
Kerry, who plans to study English and sociology at Leeds University, said:
"We did the competition in the midst of our mocks and then promptly forgot about it, so we were quite shocked when we were told we had won.
"The Civil Service has a bit of a bad reputation in the sense that you think it's all men in grey suits, but having done this I have got a much better impression of it."
The competition runners up were St Leonard's Roman Catholic comprehensive in Durham, who thought up the idea of a "timewalk" through the city, and George Green's school in London's east end.
The winning school receives a multimedia PC and state-of-the-art software while the runners-up receive Microsoft software.