Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

KS4 Business Studies

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

KS4 Business Studies

Article excerpt

BUSINESS STUDIES KS4 Business Studies, software, £599, Boardworks Ltd, 2009. Order from www.boardworks.co.uk.

I have lost count of the number of flyers that have been stuffed into my pigeon hole over the past year attempting to sell me some wonderful new piece of educational software that will revolutionise the way that I deliver my business studies lessons. I would consider myself an early adopter of new ways to use IT in the classroom and have previously used similar software from Birchfield and Interactive Learning. According to Boardworks, its products are now used in 85% of secondary schools. I personally had some familiarity with the brand, having used the ICT version previously when tasked with teaching a GCSE group. I was impressed by the business studies sample disc that I had been sent last year and I was therefore eager to get my hands on the full version of the KS4 edition. This resource is a pricey £599, a considerable chunk of any department budget. Is it worth the money?

Content, course coverage and user-friendliness ***

The software runs through the Microsoft Office suite and so will be supported by the vast majority of schools and colleges. Having installed the software (to a single PC or most likely on your school network), you are presented with an attractive interface allowing you to choose one of five topic areas: investigating business, organisational structures, people in business, financial records and financial planning. The resources consist of 32 different PowerPoint presentations, supported by eight Excel spreadsheets to accompany the two finance units. There is also a link to a "useful documents", section which contains an easy-to-follow "getting started" guide, a list of the disc contents and some very useful mapping grids (which cover the new GCSE and Applied GCSE specifications for AQA, Edexcel and OCR).

My first impression was that the vast majority of the presentations seem to have been written prior to the revision of the GCSE specifications in 2008. Old favourites such as "Business activity" and "Large business ownership" still dominate the Unit 1 materials. This will not be a problem for many teachers as some of the new specifications remain relatively similar to their predecessors, particularly in the case of the Applied Business and OCR courses. However, the new Edexcel and AQA specifications have seen quite a radical and long-overdue overhaul, with the Year 10 material now very much focused on enterprise and small business issues. As a result the latest version of Boardworks now provides a single presentation entitled "Enterprise", which is clearly intended to provide coverage of the new syllabus content. This presentation makes a reasonable attempt to cover some of the new topics (taking calculated risks, intellectual property) but, overall, I feel that teachers delivering the small business issues units will feel rather let down.

It would have been possible to rewrite the Unit 1 presentations for the new specifications. In fact, however, there is a distinct impression that the enterprise presentation has been bolted on. Disappointingly, some of the major new topic areas, such as market mapping or the "thinking hats" approach to creativity, have been completely ignored. There are a few slides in the "External influences" presentation on old favourites such as interest rates and exchange rates. Apart from this, there is almost no coverage of the syllabus material from the various economics units, which will mean that schools following the business and economics pathways will feel short-changed. …

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