FEATURE: How one Sheffield junior school is teaching pupils important life skills from an early age

Pictured is detective constable Stephen Freeman with Isabel Brooker, nine.
Pictured is detective constable Stephen Freeman with Isabel Brooker, nine.
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As part of the regular 'Pride in our Schools' feature, reporter Lee Peace visited Concord Junior School in Wincobank to discover how youngsters are being taught important life skills from an early age.

The questions came thick and fast.

Pictured are Lauren Mysiw and Headteacher Michelle Kouni.

Pictured are Lauren Mysiw and Headteacher Michelle Kouni.

After a 20 minute presentation talking about my job as a journalist, the two groups of about 30 students were keen to learn more about what hours I work, the favourite story I have even written - and they even wanted to know how much I get paid.

My trip was part of the school's first 'careers day' which also included visits from a range of professions including a police officer, fireman, nurse, doctor and lawyer.

Our collective role was to speak about our jobs and field questions from pupils. This was the latest in a long line of special events held at the school that are designed to broaden the curriculum and help prepare youngsters for life in general.

Headteacher Michelle Kouni believes it is essential to teach youngsters life skills early - even when they are still at primary school.

Pictured is reporter Lee Peace with pupils.

Pictured is reporter Lee Peace with pupils.

She said: "I think a lot of children often have at least an idea about what they want to do from a very early age.

"My daughter, for example, always said she wanted to be a design engineer, so she focused on the subjects that are best for her.

"That's why events like this opens the students' eyes to the different paths available to them.

"By bringing in people who do certain jobs this also gives the children role models to aspire to."

Pictured is district nurse Kate Coyle with Hindiyo Ali Hibrahim, eight.

Pictured is district nurse Kate Coyle with Hindiyo Ali Hibrahim, eight.

Youngsters spent the morning listening to how the other professionals went about their day jobs - and were particularly interested in a Mercedes SLS car driven in by Dean Gregory from the John Holland car dealership.

Dean, aged 44, said: "They had a lot of interesting questions - they were telling me their favourite cars such as Ferrari and Lambourghini.

"A lot of them seemed interested in a career to do with motors even at this early age so it was good to point them in the right direction."

The school is keen to apply other subjects such as maths to every day life too.

Pictured is Dean Gregory from John Holland car dealership with Jaidah Gleeson, eight.

Pictured is Dean Gregory from John Holland car dealership with Jaidah Gleeson, eight.

Teacher Lauren Mysiw said: "We use maths to teach the pupils about budgeting.

"So when they say they want a really fast car, we say yes but you will also have to think about things like buying food and paying the bills when you are older.

"It's about preparing them for real life but doing it in a fun way that they can understand."

The school has also signed up to the 'Fiver Challenge' in which the equivalent of £5 is provided to each pupil and they are challenged to turn it into a profit.

The business enterprise exercise is designed to encourage pupils to work together, boost confidence by enabling them to speak their mind and getting them to think about how money works in the modern world.

Ms Mysiw added: "They have come up with some really creative products, such as making bath bombs, lip balm moisturisers, making cakes, selling tea and coffee - and some of them have been washing cars.

"The idea is that if they make a slight loss it goes back to the Fiver Challenge pot, but any profits go to the school.

"And they get to choose what we spend it on. So they can buy books for example and have a lasting legacy at the school."

The school has also previously held faith days to allow students to explore different religions and later this week students will be encouraged to take a 'trip around the world'.

Said Ms Mysiw: "Each classroom will have a different theme from a particular country so we will have Britain, Germany, Russia, Italy and Egypt. So in the British class a teacher will be dressed up as Queen Elizabeth.

"We try and bring the education to life and inspire the children to be really interested in the world around them."

The 215-pupil school was given an Ofsted rating of 'requires improvement' in January - three years after it became an academy.

While there is still a long way to go, the same report also praised staff and pupils for pulling in the right direction and highlighted how the pace of improvement has 'accelerated considerably' in the last couple of years.

The report highlighted how the school has made a good start in 'developing students skills and knowledge with a broader curriculum' and this ethos is set to continue.

Mrs Kouni said: "By making the curriculum as interesting as possible and introducing things like problem-solving this will help develop students' confidence for when they do go out into the big wide world."