THE FIRST ex-servicemen recruited to mentor pupils in Lancashire county council schools will start work when pupils return to class next month.

Under the £3m project, the former military personnel will provide support to pupils between the age of 14 and 16 to improve their achievement in class and their attendance at school, and to reduce the number of pupils who are excluded.

The first nine mentors will start taking up their posts on January 7 in schools in Hyndburn and Pendle as a 12-month initial pilot project.

In the following four years other boroughs including Burnley, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Chorley will be included in the roll out.

The decision to recruit the mentors was taken at a meeting in October by members of Lancashire County Council's cabinet.

In addition to supporting ex-service personnel to retrain and obtain employment, this prop-osal will also contribute to a reduction in the number of young people who are not in education, employment or training in Lancashire.

The project is being led by County Councillor Mark Perks, Cabinet Member for Young People. One Connect Limited’s Employment and Support Service is running the prog-ramme.

County Councillor Perks said: “From the county council's point of view, this initiative fulfils two very important objectives; not only will it provide support to pupils who need some extra help, but it also makes use of the mentoring skills that ex-servicemen and women will have acquired while they were serving their country.

“I am very pleased that the first nine of the 50 mentors who will benefit from this scheme have been recruited and will start work in January.

“We have made a commitment to work more closely with organisations that support ex-service personnel and their families.

“I am very pleased that organisations that support ex-servicemen and women fully support this particular initiative and would like to thank them for their help.