CHRISTMAS is helping to inspire the entrepreneurial spirit in pupils at two Chelmsford schools.
Pupils at Larkrise Primary and Barnes Farm Junior have been competing to see who can make the most profit from selling their own goods to eager Christmas shoppers.
A Christmas market was staged in the hall of Larkrise, with each class hoping to attract record sales for the wares they spent the whole week making.
"Industry week, as we call it, is the most popular event of the year among pupils," said head teacher Janice Bulger.
"They love the opportunity to run a company, and produce goods that they hope other pupils will want to buy.
"They are encouraged to come up with advertising posters, slogans, undertake market research, and of course learn about profit and loss."
Among the items produced by the pupils were salt dough necklaces, pencil toppers, pencil pots, Christmas baubles and fun magnets.
Alex Reeve, acting deputy head at the Great Baddow school, said: "Each class is given a budget of £30 on Monday morning, then works with their teachers to decide on a product and then set about manufacturing it.
"The week culminates with the Christmas market when all pupils bring in £3 to spend on which items they like the most. It's brilliant as it gives them a purpose for their learning and it covers most areas of the curriculum."
Pupil Charlie McDonald, 11, whose class was selling Christmas cakes and chocolates, said: "My job was making the boxes for the chocolates. We made them in lots of different colours to attract customers."
Ellie Bond, 10, said: "We tried to make the products as eye-catching as possible, and also made sure we have enough stock. We did not want to sell out if demand was high."
At Barnes Farm pupils set up rival businesses that went head-to-head at their winter fair.
Inspired by the current BBC series of Young Apprentice, pupils pitched their business start-up ideas to a Dragons' Den style panel of teachers to see which two rival ideas would be chosen to run a stall at the fair.
The Year Six team came up with the name 'Christmas Goodies & Co' which sold reindeer food, and personalised Christmas baubles and also ran a lucky dip, while the Year Fives based their stall – Santa's Sweets and Treats – around a chocolate fountain with sweets and gingerbread mixes on offer too.
Member of the Year Five team Ethan Pascoe-Roots, 9, said: "We were going to sell cookies but my mum said gingerbread was more festive. Rather than make it all ourselves we decided to sell it as a pack of ingredients so people can have the fun of making it themselves at home."
William Griffiths, 11, who is part of the Year Six team, said: "We were given a start-up fee of £50 but we have tried to spend as little as possible. Our main outlay has been Christmas baubles which we hand decorate on the stall with people's names"
Teammate Mia Slade, 10, said: "It's been really fun. The other team put up posters yesterday so we quickly made some leaflets to hand out to get people interested in coming to our stall."
The Year Six pupils were this week crowned Barnes Farm Junior Entrepreneurs of the Year 2012, having emerged with a profit of £230 compared to the £150 profit for the Year Five pupils.
The children will now be involved with how the money is spent at the school.
Head Ross McTaggart said: "The pupils have been given a chance to develop business skills that will be needed later on in life and they have grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
"All the children co-operated brilliantly together and proved that enterprising spirit is well and truly alive at Barnes Farm."