The dangers of borrowing cash from loan sharks are now being taught at Bradford primary schools.
Woodside Academy is the first to work with the England Illegal Money Lending Team to ensure children understand the consequences of using illegal money lenders.
Despite their early age, pupils are being taught about borrowing money safely and managing money effectively.
Education packs have been developed to fit into many areas of the school curriculum including maths, English, art and design, drama and citizenship.
They are based on real-life situations and are designed to explore a range of issues, including spending money, safer lending and borrowing, the dangers and potentially horrendous consequences of using loan sharks and how to choose more alternatives and make better financial decisions.
And the hope is children will become financially savvy and avoid getting into difficult situations in later life.
The scheme is part of a community project called Smart Life which is taking place in the Royds ward in Bradford.
Woodside pupils have also been working with a professional theatre company, Altru, taking part in a 'Play in a Day' – funded by the the Illegal Money Lending Team – to help drive the messages home.
Head teacher Jane Browne said some pupils’ families had first-hand experiences of the consequences of borrowing money from loan sharks and the school had decided to use its annual money week activities to focus on the dangers.
“It is part of what we do as an academy to prepare our children for their future lives,” she said.
The Illegal Money Lending Team works in partnership with Trading Standards services across England to prosecute loan sharks and to support the people and communities that are affected by them.
David Lodge, head of West Yorkshire Trading Standards said: “This is a brilliant way to get children engaged in the serious subject of loan sharks.
“Educating pupils in a fun and interactive way while warning them of the dangers of dealing with illegal money lenders that blight our local communities at a young age, will better prepare them for adulthood".
Bradford Councillor Val Slater, who is chairman of the West Yorkshire Trading Standards Committee, praised the educational packs which have been produced by the Illegal Money Lending Team.
“They have been created by schools and teachers who understand the need to educate young people about money and safe saving for the future,” she said.
“The young people will carry the message home and encourage parents, who may be in difficulties, to seek help and support”.
In 2012, the Telegraph & Argus reported how parents picking their children up at one Bradford school were being threatened by loan sharks’ ‘heavies’.
The head teacher told how she had to intervene when a thug with a bull terrier harrassed a distraught young mother for cash as she picked up her child.
Similar problems had also been reported at other schools and led to head teachers holding meetings to devise ways of tackling them.
Anyone with information about loan shark activities in their community has been urged to contact the Illegal Money Lending Team helpline on 0300 555 2222.