Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

The Ofsted Business Education Report

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

The Ofsted Business Education Report

Article excerpt

The Ofsted report Developing young people's economic and business understanding provides valuable feedback on the kind of classroom experiences that Ofsted wants to see being made available to students. It offers teachers plenty of food for thought.

To develop some of themes in the report, the Teaching Business & Economics editorial team put several key questions to David Butler. His answers should help you to evaluate your own teaching strategies.

What are your key criteria for a good/excellent lesson?

Inspectors will base their judgements on the generic criteria for evaluating lessons (see panel on page 8). The overriding considerations are the progress students are making and the extent to which they enjoy their learning. Of course, making lesson objectives explicit, having a wellstructured lesson plan, providing an appropriate range of activities and building in assessment opportunities are all important, but they are only a means to an end. Teaching can become formulaic and dull if teachers are too concerned about including all the components they feel make up a good lesson. A lack of spontaneity and imagination is a key cause of the substantial proportion of "thorough but uninspiring teaching" identified in the report.

Inspectors report on the overall quality of teaching and learning; this includes more than just lesson observations. It involves discussions with students to find out their attitudes to the subject, how well supported they feel in their learning and the opportunities they have to take part in enrichment activities. It is also includes evaluating the quality of marking and the feedback students receive by looking at a sample of their work. The best departments are able to present their own evaluations of the quality of teaching and learning, which are based on lesson observations and the views of students.

While inspectors do not expect to see any particular activity taking place in any one lesson, they do seek evidence during their visits of features which contribute to effective teaching and learning in business education. These include the appropriate use of information and communications technology, effective questioning and relating work as far as possible to real world examples. If the quality of teaching and learning is to be judged as outstanding, inspectors would expect to find evidence of it being reflected in high levels of achievement and very positive attitudes to the subject. The Ofsted reports Developing young people's economic and business understanding and Sharing good practice in colleges: a survey of business, administration and law both contain several examples of excellent classroom practice.

What do you think needs to happen in order to improve the extent to which students come into contact with real businesses?

Ofsted reports over the past 10 years have consistently identified the lack of direct contact with businesses as a weakness in business education in schools and colleges. As might be expected, contacts with employers and businesses are better established in applied business courses than in other courses, but even here they are not consistently good. Too often schools and colleges take the easy option and resort to using company websites, rather than providing opportunities for students to engage directly with businesses. The most effective departments build in a range of contacts with businesses in each main module of work. Some of the best work we see is where employers set students a problem based on their business and are also involved in evaluating the solutions presented by the students. The work might well be linked to a visit to the business or a talk given by the employer to provide background information and set the context. This is particularly effective when the work is used as part of an assessed assignment. There are several examples of effective engagement with businesses in the Ofsted reports cited above. …

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