Ministers aim to put the government's £1bn school building programme to innovative use – by asking pupils to get involved in the construction process.
The children will get practical lessons in construction crafts if a new skills council announced this week by Malcolm Wicks, minister for lifelong learning, comes into being.

Wicks revealed that talks were taking place with the DETR to put in place a system where children would learn skills while working directly on the rebuilding programme.

He said: "I have had a discussion with Nick Raynsford and we think that because the government is spending £1bn or more on newer schools that the future generation of children are going to be growing up in a refurbishment culture.

"But we feel that craftsmen could be brought into schools as part of a new scheme or competition and it could be a wonderful opportunity to introduce many children to the work of the construction industry." Wicks made the comments as he unveiled a Learning and Skills Council to introduce a national programme of short training courses in a drive to attract more than 50,000 adults into further education.

The council will take responsibility for funding all post-16 education and training, except for higher education.

Hugh Try, chairman of the Construction Industry Training Board, backed the skills council initiative. He said: "We see the learning this as a major step forward for construction training."