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When the going gets tough, go shopping

THEIR MUMS will never be able to tell them shopping is a waste of time again. Four girls from Dingwall Academy have won through to the Scottish Final of the Young Consumer of the Year Award after winning their regional heat in Inverness.

They'll be facing Portobello High, who won the Edinburgh heat, and another two teams from the East and West of Scotland regions following further heats in the New Year.

The consumer awards have been run by the Trading Standards Institute for the past 20 years and the current UK champions are Boroughmuir High, who this year brought victory to Scotland for the first time in the competition's history. The Scottish final will be held in Edinburgh at the end of March.

"We usually have something like 15 to 20 schools take part each year in Scotland, which is not as many as there are in England and Wales. Part of the problem is, in England and Wales this kind of thing is part of the curriculum, so teachers can see a much clearer curriculum link," says Alex Jones, education officer with Edinburgh City Council's Services for Communities, which co-ordinates the event in Scotland.

The competition covers several areas including general consumer affairs, safety and environmental issues, food and health, travel, money and credit issues. Youngsters from third to sixth years are eligible to take part in the competition, which runs from the start of each academic year in September.

Glenys Brown, assistant trading standards officer at Highland Council, organised the North of Scotland heat, with Fraserburgh Academy coming in second place and Kinlochleven High third. "All the teams did really well," she says. "It's the third year we will have a Highland team going through to the final in Edinburgh."

Dingwall Academy home economics teacher Jackie Hewitt says the four girls in the winning team were all studying Higher home economics, which included material relevant to the competition: "We thought we would extend their knowledge and go for it and they were just fantastic."

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