Business Studies is taught as a Key Stage 4 subject that gives students a good understanding of what they need to know to be a valuable member of society when they enter the world of work, either in the public or private sector. It gives students the knowledge to go on and study business at a higher level either as a vocational post 16 course or at A level, leading to higher education academic study.
Students are given an understanding of how real businesses work and how they contribute to both the UK and global economies. Both numeracy and literacy skills learnt across the school at Key Stage 3 are developed and enhanced to allow students to give clear arguments on why business decisions are undertaken and to show an understanding of how the financial performances are measured. Arguments based on case studies are debated orally and extended answers are also written, following the strategies students have been taught in their English classes.
Students are taught to respect and listen to each other when business decisions are debated. They are encouraged to take pride in their work and to build up their own portfolios that can be used for exam revision and re-capping knowledge. Opportunities are given to students to run their own mini-businesses encouraging creativity and risk taking, allowing all students, including less academic and SEND students to have a hands on approach to understanding how a business works.
Although there is a focus on profit making businesses ethical and environmental considerations are often discussed where students need to draw on knowledge and ideas they have from PHSE, religious studies and geography. Students are encouraged to apply the knowledge learnt to businesses run by adults they know, either friends or family. Educational visits are also arranged to enable students to experience the business world for themselves.
The course delivered is AQA GCSE across 3 years. In Year 9 students begin with businesses in the real world, giving them an understanding of how and why people run a business. This leads on to how businesses are influenced by external factors, including ethical and environmental considerations, and the role businesses have in contributing to the economy and finally the role of marketing.
In Year 10 students understand how businesses are run and the structure of a business, the role of human resources and the financial performance and record keeping. Year 11 recaps all 6-topic areas in greater detail with a focus on using case studies to develop exam technique. Students have three 50 minute lessons per week.
The AQA interactive scheme of work is used by teachers to plan lessons. Although this has detailed lesson ideas and links to business video clips and on-line resources, teachers regularly use every day business scenarios that are currently in the news and clips from current business TV programs, including Dragons Den, The Apprentice, Inside the Factory and Undercover Boss. This is both motivating for students and shows how the business world is ever changing and relevant to the students’ own lives. Teachers use the shared area to exchange ideas, resources and lesson plans ensuring consistency between the two teachers delivering lessons to each year group.
There is cross-curricular work with the English team advising and observing how students develop and defend an argument when composing an extended answer. There is also collaborative work with the maths team who advise on techniques students use for working out financial calculations, an example being how to work out percentage change in business performance. In Year 9 and 10 homework is often research based and encourages students to analyse businesses in their own local area and to discuss business scenarios with adults in their own lives. In Year 10 the focus moves to exam style questions and in Year 11 independent study focuses solely around exam preparation and understanding and meeting success criteria.
When using IT rooms at school Kahoot and PowerPoint sorting games are used to embed key business terms. Seneca and Gojimo are used to support the learning and students are encouraged to use these sites as part of their independent home learning, along with, YouTube BizConSesh, which is used as a resource for students to revise or study topics, that have been identified as an area for improvement. This site is a series of online business lessons for the AQA syllabus. In Year 9 and 10 students are encouraged to run their own businesses by taking the tenner challenge and/or running a stall at the annual school fayre. In the past successful students have made 3 figure sums in profit and have of course been encouraged to donate to school charities!
At the end of each unit students are tested to check the acquisition of key business vocabulary and retested to check significant progress has been made. Case study style questions are used to assess students’ ability to apply the business knowledge learnt to a business situation. Past papers are adapted and used for end of year tests to enable teachers to give accurate data predictions and to put interventions in place where necessary.
Individual teachers keep mark sheets to track the progress of students across the course. Students and parents are informed by phone where exceptional progress has been made or if there are concerns that a student is not achieving expected progress, to help ensure there is an improvement in effort and attitude where necessary. Each student receives a written data report and comments are given verbally on individual’s strengths and areas to improve.
The Senior Leadership Team lead with responsibility for Business Studies reports to the rest of the Leadership team and other curriculum leaders to give updates on the progress of this curriculum area. There are plans in place to bring Business Studies under the umbrella of another curriculum area in the future. Business Studies is a subject that students can take at post 16 colleges at A level or equivalent without prior study. This combined with staffing issues has influenced the decision to phase business studies out of the Key Stage 4 choices process for the time being, with the final cohort taking the examination in 2022.