Child drivers take to the road aged 11 from Central Foundation girls’ school

Maria Fabryova, 11, gets into car ready to take the wheel at Bluewater Shopping Centre

Maria Fabryova, 11, gets into car ready to take the wheel at Bluewater Shopping Centre - Credit: Young Drivers

Girls as young as 11 from east London have been getting behind the wheel for driving lessons to make them the safer “next generation” of drivers.

The youngsters from Central Foundation Girls School in Bow were put through their paces at a ‘Young Driver’ off-road event staged at Bluewater shopping centre in Greenhithe, near Dartford.

Each had 30 minutes in a dual-control car with a qualified instructor who taught the basics such as changing gears and parking, then going on to see how the youngsters might tackle roundabouts.

“The scheme offers our girls an insight to driving at an early age,” Central Foundation’s community manager Matt Walsh explained.

“They come from inner London where driving can be intimidating and expensive. This encourages them to be safe and responsible drivers.”

The ‘Young Driver’ scheme has been added to the school’s ‘out of school hours’ activities programme at weekends and during holidays.

It was set up in 2009 to help youngsters be safer drivers by teaching them over a longer period of time and from a younger age. Lessons are just like those on the road from age 17, but taking more time and without pressure to pass a test.

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Kim Stanton, who runs the scheme, said: “The teachers at Central Foundation are taking practical action to help pupils understand the responsibilities of being a road user.

“Training drivers over a longer time and from a younger age can reduce the rate of accidents by more than a half. The lessons also help youngsters as pedestrians and cyclists, giving them an insight into how car drivers see the world.”

One-in-five newly-qualified drivers in the UK has an accident within six months of passing their test, statistics show, with 400 fatalities a year involving young drivers.

The scheme hopes to change all that, having now given 275,000 lessons at 40 locations around the country.