Portsmouth pupils get in the driving seat at school

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GETTING behind the wheel of a car is a rite of passage that many youngsters look forward to when they turn 17.

But students at Springfield School have just moved into the fast lane, thanks to a pioneering new scheme that teaches motoring to 15 and 16-year-olds.

BEHIND THE WHEEL Springfield School pupil Mason Mitchell  behind the wheel of a car for the first time with driving instructor Matt Best.    Picture: Steve Reid (121004-535)

BEHIND THE WHEEL Springfield School pupil Mason Mitchell behind the wheel of a car for the first time with driving instructor Matt Best. Picture: Steve Reid (121004-535)

The Driving Project, launched yesterday at the Drayton secondary, has signed up more than 200 Year 11 boys and girls who will learn practical and theoretical aspects of driving.

Their first lesson in steering – with instructors from Farlington’s All Drivers Academy, which is running the scheme – was a hit.

Ellen McNulty, 15, said: ‘I never thought I’d ever have the opportunity to drive at my age – it was so exciting.

‘At first I was really nervous but after a while I got the hang of it and it was a great experience.

‘I’m planning on taking my test when I turn 17, so this will give me a big advantage.’

Mason Mitchell, 16, said: ‘It was my first time driving a car and it was great to put into practice some of the theory we had learnt.

‘There’s a bit of a stereotype about boy racers – I hope this shows people we can be just as sensible as the girls.’

The idea behind the scheme is to give young people confidence and safety awareness by practising on school grounds before they hit the roads.

One in five young drivers crash within a year of passing their test. Matthew Best, 36, who runs the All Drivers Academy, said: ‘I’m thrilled we’re getting the message across early.

‘My main concern is safety and good attitudes on the road.

‘The younger you start to learn driving, the faster your confidence will build.

‘If I had my way people would have to have 100 hours practice before they took their test, and not 20.’

He added: ‘The idea is to introduce driving skills at a young age, so that students will turn 17 realising that driving a car is about more than just turning on an engine and hitting a high speed.’

To find out more visit alldriversacademy.co.uk