Students are currently taught the Edexcel GCSE in Business if they opt for Business at KS4. In essence the course provides students with the knowledge and skills required to successfully become an entrepreneur, giving them the confidence to think of a business idea and understand the key things they will need to do in order to make that business a profitable success. In this respect, the course content is therefore very varied and covers key business ideas such as marketing, finance, competition, recruitment, motivation and growth amongst many others. Students will find that many avenues for post 16 study will be available to them upon completion of this course.
To this end, the main teaching undertaken during the 3 years will be that of taught business theory lessons covering the entirety of the specification and application of this theory. This is done through examination style questions to prepare students for those all important end of year 11 examinations. For most students this will be the first time they will learn about business concepts.
Student’s application and knowledge of this learning is assessed with two summative examinations at the end of year 11. Application of which comes in the form of case studies whereby students will need to apply their understanding in context to a variety of different businesses. To prepare students for this final assessment we start early. In year 9, students master short answer style questions in the form of outline, state and explain. The explain style command is important to master as it introduces students to the concept of ‘linked strands of argument’ which is needed for the longer more in depth style answers of Discuss, Analyse, Justify and Evaluate. Basically, once students have mastered ‘linked strands’ they simply need to learn the examination technique for the longer style of answers. Linked strands is a challenging way of writing an answer as it requires students to think of causes and consequences on people and businesses. So to prepare students for this we undertake ‘interleaving’ of topics from the start of year 9. Students will be referred back to previously taught learning almost every lesson. They will be encouraged to use previously taught learning when thinking of causes and consequences. In year 9 this done through the use of providing students with key words and encouraging them to use these keywords in their answers. To help support students we provide all students with differentiated writing templates for each of the 5 main command words. Students begin by using the one with the most support but over time they move through the templates until they use the final ‘exam ready’ template. This movement occurs on a personalised level to each individual student’s needs but happens at pace. It is expected that students will be on the ‘exam ready’ template for Explain style questions by the middle of year 9. Students will then master Discuss, Analyse and Justify in year 10 and finally Evaluate in year 11. Students self assess, peer assess and specific pieces are teacher assessed throughout their application of the different command words. Practice of the command words happens at least once every week from the beginning of year 9. Coupled with this, students sit short sharply focussed cumulative end of topic assessments whereby they get the opportunity to revisit key learning over the previous half term. Further to this students have much longer mock style assessments each year with two full practice examination papers undertaken in year 11.
Business lessons involve the dissemination of a lot of business theory. Sometimes complex business concepts that require in depth understanding of business by students. To set the foundations for this depth of understanding we start year 9 on programme of lessons that introduces them to what we consider to be key business concepts. For example; revenue, costs and profits, cash flow, stakeholders, competition, customer satisfaction and company image amongst others. These key concepts underpin all others and are repeatedly referred back to throughout the three years.
To do this, students learn in a mutually respectful environment built on trust allowing individual, paired and group work to flourish. Teaching in a computer room allows us to use technology for students to collaborate on a range of activities which students particularly enjoy doing. Each topic lasts roughly 3 lessons and within that 3 lesson block students undertake a variety of activities to learn the concept and then apply their learning using the command word templates. Therefore students learn new theory and practice exam technique each and every week.
During cumulative assessments and mocks students results are recorded and using collaborative technology such as Google Classroom they have instant access to these results. The technology allows them to quickly see which individual topics they did well in, or not so well in. Importantly, time is made available to address individual student gaps. Where there is a whole class misunderstanding, this is re-covered in lesson as a whole class. But students are also given time to address their own individual misunderstandings with the use of online platforms such as Senenca learning. Lessons whereby this is taking place will have all students individually learning different topics specific to their own learning gaps.
From a delivery point of view the scheme of learning is structured to cover most topics roughly by the end of year 10, allowing time in year 11 to hone examination technique and delve into deeper understanding of their previous learning to ensure they have the best chance possible to achieve the highest grades they are capable of.