PUPILS have been experiencing first hand the world of farming and livestock trading during a visit to one of North Devon's market days.
The youngsters from Torrington, Bideford and Holsworthy schools went deep into the farmers' environment at Holsworthy market.
The 39 students aged 12-13 were hosted by auctioneers Kivells, working with Torridge Council and North Devon +.
Then they went to the site of a new state of the art agri-centre under construction north of the town.
Auctioneer James Morrish said: " This was a great chance for the students to see what happens here."
"It was just fantastic," said joint organiser Sarah Grigg, the area's employment and skills manager with North Devon +. "Especially for some of the children who have never encountered animals on that size and scale.
"They behaved brilliantly, listening to everything and when I asked what had surprised them, it was the smells.
"We were herded into the store cattle area almost like we were going into the auction and the children were engaged throughout the whole day."
The pupils watched the bidding round the sale rings, soon deciphering the auctioneer's call and understanding prices.
Sarah said: "From the teaching side it was all about numbers and, for example, they were able to work out from the prices and the commission how much the farmers made from a pen of sheep.
"Then they put on fluorescent jackets and hard hats to go round the new site. Because they'd been to the market they were able to visualise what it's going to be like in the new one.
The visit is part of a successful programme run by the Northern Devon Employment and Skills board to offer pupils close links with local business and industry.
"It's already making a difference in their academic achievement," said Sarah.