Money, money, money…

The starter for side B of the the linear A-level course:

“Any new business needs money to start up. Some money comes from owners or shareholders; some money comes from banks. The business sells their products and, in return, collects money from their customers. The business then has to pay money to all its suppliers and workers. This lets the business work out how much money it has made over the course of a year. The more money the business makes, the more money it can pay to its owners or shareholders. Even if a business is going to make money at the end of the year, it might run out of money during the course of the year, and this means they don’t have enough money to pay money to their suppliers and workers.”

Literacy has to be at the heart of the course!

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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.

Getting off on the right foot

We teach A-levels using two teachers per class. The scheme of work published by AQA, along with others that I’ve found, all assume one teacher: I’ve had to divide the topics so they work logically with two parallel teachers. The teaching programme is therefore split into two sides.

One of my biggest aims for the early weeks is to give our pupils the terminology needed to talk about ‘money’ in all its different forms, even though they won’t be studying finance and profitability until at least week 5 of the course. This is something that I’ve done with my own classes in the past, but it’s time to formalise this across the whole department. I’m planning to start one of the sides off with a project about setting up a business, identifying clearly the difference between revenue, costs, capital and profit. I reckon that something practical will help to give concrete examples and help develop pupils’ understanding. I’m considering using Tycoon in Schools, or something similar, but am happy to write my own if there’s nothing suitable out there – let’s see how much time exists over the summer holidays!