After three days away on a DofE expedition, I’ve turned my (slightly tired!) attention back to department administration. Our Department Handbook has grown organically over the last decade, and is currently full of all sorts of things that probably don’t need to be in there in these days of t’internet. I spent a bit of time this afternoon sorting through it and hacking out excessive bloat. Writing it was a useful exercise, though – there are lots of things I need to go back to and give more thought, but it’s roughly in the right shape to fit through the hoops expected by The Powers That Be.

One section of the Department Handbook is about extra-curricular, and it’s quite nice to see how that part has grown from last year. The Economics Society has been expanded and rebranded as the Economics and Business Society, and our first meeting is next Monday evening. I’m going to run some sort of Apprentice-type challenge, although my intention was to plan that whilst sitting in a DofE minibus waiting for teams to walk past. Sadly, I spent much more time driving and less time planning, so that’s another job to add to this week’s To Do list. We’re also planning a ‘morality in markets’ session later this term, plus a couple of visiting speakers and a large-scale business challenge competition in the run-up to our BASE heat next term.

We’ve also got various competitions going on: Target 2.0 has started; the Tycoon In Schools business plan has been submitted; pupils are sorting themselves into teams ready for Student Investor. Of course, some of this happened last year, but there’s a feeling of renewal (not to mention the cross-referencing of sign-up sheets and assorted administration). There aren’t massive numbers taking part this year, but I’m hoping that these guys will be the trail-blazers and there will be more teams next year.


Tycoon In Schools

We’ve never entered anyone for any business competition, at least to the best of my knowledge. This year, though, one valiant Y13 has taken the bait; he’s going it alone, but seems very determined. We’ve just spent the last 90 minutes finalising his business plan submission for the Tycoon In Schools competition, and (apart from a moment or two where cash-flow and profit got hideously tangled) I’m impressed with what he’s planned so far. He’s been on the phone to suppliers, negotiated discounts, organised production schedules and done market research. He’s learning a lot from the process, and the competition hasn’t even started yet!

Next week’s challenge is to get teams signed up and ready for the ifs Student Investor Challenge. I’m not going to think about BASE just yet: that’s a project for next half-term…

Business competitions

As a new HOD, one of the things I’d like to do is get pupils in the department more involved in national competitions. I became aware of the BASE competition last year, and thought it would be a good way to raise the profile of the department within the school. I’ve finally got offical permission to take a team, and have registered for a local heat. I know nothing about it, so will be quite happy if we manage not to make utter fools of ourselves; thoughts of winning can come in future years when we know the lie of the land!

Two other competitions I’ve been investigating are Tycoon in Schools and Coca-Cola’s Real Business Challenge, both of which focus on start-ups and therefore have some good resources to solve the ‘money’ problem. From the very start of both GCSE and A-level courses, I want to make the distinction between revenue/costs/profit/capital absolutely clear in pupils’ minds, so that they can write accurately from the outset. One of the sides of the A-level SoW starts with the topic of profit, so hopefully an amalgamation of these two resources will give a clear understanding of the differences between different sorts of ‘money’.

The GCSE course starts with enterprise, and it makes logical sense to build profit/capital into this. In previous years I’ve spent a week getting the pupils to write business plans for their own business; last year I used the Real Business Challenge as a structure for this. However, I think Tycoon In Schools might be better for a class in the first two weeks of the course: the resources are a bit more structured and might work better for the teacher who will be taking our Y10 classes next year.

Moving from “what will work for me?” to “what will work for everyone in the department?” is quite odd but I guess it’s just part of the step between class teachers and HOD. One of the things I really value about the department is that we all teach in different ways, which gives lots of variety for pupils. However, it does make it harder to have shared resources. I certainly don’t want to go down the route of having very prescriptive teaching materials, so I hope this ‘money project’ won’t be an intrusion too far into my colleagues’ planning.