When Chloe Knox and Rebecca Paterson’s friends are in classes on a Tuesday morning they are working in a hair salon.
The 15-year-olds are among a cohort of Fife S4 pupils studying for a hairdressing qualification in a real salon.
The link between their schools, Lime Salon and the Scottish Qualifications Authority is allowing them to kick-start their careers before they’ve left school.
So when the bell rings and Chloe’s friends at Inverkeithing High School are heading to their first classes she says: “I’ve got Lime, and I’d rather be there!”
She and Rebecca, from Auchmuty High School, are part of the second intake of pupils from their schools and Beath High School to study at Lime.
They spend every Tuesday morning in the salon before returning to school for the afternoon. They will also get two full weeks of work experience.
Kasey Coutts, 16, completed the programme last year and the former Beath pupil is now employed as a trainee stylist by Lime Salon.
She said: “I was here every week and it was kind of scary at the start but I really enjoyed it.
“When we first came we started by learning blow-dries, then we did styling and we gradually did more and more.
“Then I was asked if I wanted to stay on so I could do my training in the salon.”
Working with real clients and colleagues – something she wouldn’t experience in school – really built her confidence.
She said: “At the start I didn’t really speak but after a while I started talking to people more and more.
“I really enjoyed the program, it was good to learn the different skills and techniques that hairdressers use every day.
“I would recommend it to anyone that wants to get into hairdressing.”
The school pupils learn various techniques and skills in a training section of the busy Bridge Street salon, practising on each other but also interacting with clients.
As Chloe curled her hair, Rebecca said: “We’ve been doing styling and braiding. It’s really good.”
Both girls had to apply for their places and were interviewed as if they were going for a job.
Chloe heard about the programme at school and said: “I decided to try and see if I would get it.
“We all had our interviews and I did.”
If they succeed, they will be awarded a Level 1 SVQ in hairdressing and may become full-time trainee stylists like Kasey.
They are not just imagining this is a client scenario, it actually is.”
Emma Evans, Ambition Centre for Training
Helping to deliver the scheme is the Ambition Centre for Training which provides training for the hairdressing industry in Scotland.
According to director Emma Evans hairdressing students normally train in college or school with some work experience in a salon.
She said: “The way it is delivered here is completely reversed.
“They are working with clients as opposed to just each other.
“This accelerates their confidence. They are not just imagining this is a client scenario, it actually is.”
And for the salon, this has the advantage of better preparing young people to become its next recruits.
Salon group director John Baillie said: “Taking the students out of the classroom and putting them in a successful, busy salon gives them the opportunity to experience a real life working environment.
“They receive a hands-on approach to learning new skills with the support and encouragement from experienced tutors.”