PUBLIC SECTOR: PR aid for teens education scheme

A PR campaign is to launch in support of a government loyalty card

scheme to tempt teenagers to stay in education.

'Connexions' cards, to be rolled out regionally from November and

available nationwide from September next year, offer incentives to 16 to

19-year-olds not to quit school.

These include shopping and travel discounts as well as prizes, gained by

clocking up attendance points through an electronic swipe-card system

set up in classrooms.

The Department for Education and Skills has handed outsourcing giant

Capita the £100m, seven-year contract to develop and run the


Fishburn Hedges will handle public relations, BMP BDD advertising and

Claydon Heeley direct marketing.

Gordon Tempest-Hay, who heads FH's five-strong team says the agency's

work will have a strong consumer youth focus.

'If it is to engage teenagers, this shouldn't be promoted as a

government scheme. It needs to have a good brand on its own, something

that they will want to have,' he said.

The north-east is to be the first region where the card will become


FH's work also includes liaising with groups affected by the scheme,

including teaching unions, education authorities and local


Tempest Hay said Capita is close to finalising contracts with a host of

high street stores, including McDonalds.

Football clubs will also be involved. West Ham United and Manchester

United have been approached to offer prizes of a day's training at their

facilities for high-scoring school attendees.

A website will also be set up for teenagers to check their points tally

and access career information.

Points are also accrued by carrying out voluntary work while in


Government figures show one third of all 16 to 19-year-olds drop out of


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