The new secondary curriculum includes economic and business for every student in secondary schools something that teachers have wanted for years. The new QCA programme of study for economic wellbeing requires an understanding of how businesses work and the way in which some simple economics affects us and the world in which we live.
The aim of the programme is to bring together the existing aspects of the curriculum that help students to look after their own economic wellbeing. These include enterprise, careers, financial capability and aspects of business and economics. Not only does the business and economics content offer insights into an individual's future, but it also helps students to ask helpful questions about the other three aspects of the programme.
This is a real opportunity for business and economics teachers to make their mark - and increase interest in their subjects. Students who have had an enlivening experience at key stage 3 will be keen to take GCSE courses at key stage 4. There have long been complaints that we have to work hard to persuade students to take up a new subject at GCSE, so this offers a great chance to capture them early.
The programme of study
The programme of study can be found on the QCA's curriculum website (http://curriculum.qca.org.uk/). Go to subjects and select PSHE, which now has a different meaning - it stands for personal, social, health and economic education. There are two programmes. One is traditional PSHE - under the heading of personal wellbeing - and the other is economic wellbeing, which is key to the future for business and economics teachers.
The new curriculum is based round concepts and processes that have been carefully identified for each programme of study. The particularly relevant concept here is "understanding the economic and business environment".
As for the processes, these two seem to be at the heart of our subject area:
* demonstrate and apply understanding of economic ideas
* develop and apply skills and qualities for enterprise.
The range and content demonstrates the need for business and economics expertise very clearly. It also shows how business and economics ideas draw together a wider understanding of economic wellbeing. Young people need to leave school with the ability to ask questions before they make decisions. The media is currently full of examples of people who were "misled" by buy-to-let salespersons. They believed every word and are now suffering in the slow down in the property market. Just think how much better equipped they would have been if they had some grasp of competition and could have asked the right questions.
Its place in the school curriculum
Many schools now run a programme which covers personal, social and health education, citizenship and other aspects of personal development such as thinking skills. Economic wellbeing is likely to be added to this programme - but it should also be developed as a cross-curricular strand as many subjects contribute to it.
The key factor is that economic wellbeing must be taught by experts. Citizenship offers many lessons here. Many schools thought that tutors could deal with citizenship or they could just tick the boxes across the curriculum and all would be well. It wasn't and Ofsted soon found out. As schools are now driven by Every Child Matters - and Ofsted will be looking for evidence - economic wellbeing has an important role.
Many non-expert teachers fear that enterprise is just a Thatcherite approach to education. Teachers with experience of enterprise education in the field know that it is all about being enterprising and, while the bottom line is clearly important to a business, we help students to apply enterprise skills to all aspects of life. The role of the business teacher is therefore important in getting the right message to senior managers and anyone involved in the programme. …