When I grow up...

Six of Sue George's eight-year-olds want to be vets. Another dreams of becoming a marine biologist. Yet another wants to be a gardener. Few of them have any idea how much study or training is required. Elaine Carlton talked to them

It used to be so straightforward. Girls wanted to grow up to become nurses while boys wanted to work as engine drivers when they left school.

Today there are far more choices - from being a Spice Girl to a marine biologist, an electrician to a wrestler.

At Intake Primary School in Sheffield, pupils nurture a wide variety of ambitions. More than a fifth of the class of 30 eight-year olds want to work as vets when they leave school because they love animals. Few however are aware of the long years of studying and training they will face if they choose to pursue their dream.

They do however, have the example of their class teacher to follow. At eight, Sue George knew she wanted to be a teacher if only she could pass her 11-plus and years later her lifelong ambition was eventually fulfilled. Now she waits to see what will become of her eight-year old pupils.

Sarah Hutchinson is one of those who knows what she wants to be when she grows up. From the day her parents took her to visit a seal sanctuary while on holiday in Cornwall she has wanted to become a marine biologist.

"I like working with animals, mainly ones that live under the sea, and when my parents took me to the seal sanctuary I met Cheryl who works there and she taught me all about seals.

"She told me they're in danger because people are hunting them and she taught me how to tell the difference between males and females and different species. She also showed me how to feed them.

"My parents think it's a good idea for me to become a marine biologist although I realise it may not be straightforward. I'll have to go to university and learn a lot more about sea life."

Fellow pupil Ross Whitaker thinks he wants to become a pilot. He decided that while on a plane to Lanzarote with his parents.

He said: "I went into the cockpit and I saw two pilots and lots of different buttons."

Ross knows his dream will be hard work tofulfil because he asked his father who told him all pilots are clever.

"My dad told me you have to be good at maths and science to be a pilot, " he said.

Fortunately however, Ross has another future career in reserve. If he doesn't make it as a pilot, he plans to go to drama school and become an actor like his hero Val Kilmer in Batman Forever.

Rebecca Gray wants to use her creative talents to become an artist.

She studies art at school every Wednesday. It is her favourite lesson, but she is always practising her drawing at home.

She said: "Everybody says I'm good at drawing and I particularly enjoy drawing horses. I think I take after my Auntie Cheryl who's always drawing teddy bears to put on my wall" "I know I'll have to go to art school but my parents think it's a good idea"

Inspired by his grandfather, Alex Denning wants to work as a gardener. He often accompanies him to the garden centre and talks to him about the plants.

"I like looking at bulbs and flowers and I'm always growing plants in the garden using a trowel, spade and fork," said Alex.

"I've learned from watching episodes of Gardener's World and reading books that you have to dig with the trowel to take out the weeds" Ruth Young is another of the many pupils in the class at Intake School who loves animals. She wants to become a vet and work with the RSPCA.

"I want to look after animals and keep them safe until someone wants to buy them. I enjoy watching animal films and I've got my own rabbit which I know how to look after," she said.

"I've told my mum I want to work with animals and she loves them so she thinks it's fine, but my dad is not so keen" Other ambitions harboured by the pupils in Mrs George's class vary from hairdresser to lorry driver. Pupils have often chosen to follow in parents' or relatives' footsteps. Many have confided their dreams to mothers or fathers.

Sue George believes her pupils' dreams could play a crucial part in their future career choices. Despite their age, she believes determination will win through as it did in her own case.

"I think if they are determined enough, these ideas need not be confined to dreams," she says. "Qualifications, money to study and chances will all come into it, but it is always possible to fulfil your ambitions."

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