Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Enhancing the Delivery of Vocational Business Studies through Outward Facing Activities

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

Enhancing the Delivery of Vocational Business Studies through Outward Facing Activities

Article excerpt

The Sinnott Fellowship scheme was launched in 2009 by the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) in commemoration of NUT chief Steve Sinnott. Initially two groups of teachers were given funding to allow them time away from their normal work to develop 'outward facing' practice in their school, described by Bubb (2010) as:

'... innovative external links and relationships to improve pupil aspiration and attainment ...'

In January 2010 I was lucky enough to receive one of these rewards which allowed me time to develop relationships with a range of local businesses and other organisations in order to enhance the delivery of Business Education courses in my school and sixth form consortium.

In order to examine the impact of this activity I chose to complete a small-scale action research project which served as the basis of my dissertation for the Business and Enterprise Education MA at Warwick University.

Over the course of three half terms I monitored students completing a range of outward facing activities. One of these projects involved a group of students being commissioned by an organisation called Creative Partnerships to investigate the success of a series of PHSE and Enterprise Education workshops which were run in the Oceana nightclub in Wolverhampton.

The original workshops took place in December 2009, with groups of year 10 students from across the region spending half a day in the club learning about different issues to do with gangs, drugs, alcohol and personal safety in an environment where they may, in future, encounter such problems.

In order to secure funding to run the event again in 2010 the organiser, Jeremy Brown, a representative of Creative Partnerships, chose to commission a group of Business students to act as consultants and carry out a review of the project. This work provided my sixth form students with an opportunity to develop a range of business skills and knowledge and to generate evidence for their BTEC National portfolios, specifically Unit 4 - Business Communication. The group participating in the Oceana project was given over 500 evaluation forms completed by year 10 students who had attended PHSE and Enterprise Education events during the previous December. They analysed these documents and produced a report for distribution to potential sponsors for the following year's event. They then prepared a presentation which they delivered to representatives of the local council, police and schools in addition to representatives of funding bodies and local businesses. This event was organised and run by the students who managed the venue (a city centre theatre) for the afternoon, greeting guests, signing them in, showing them to their seats and distributing documents to them.

By participating in this event students were able to work with a professional mentor and deliver work that contributed to the future of a real business.

The evidence that I gathered through my three action research cycles pointed to students participating in this activity benefiting in a number of ways. One pleasing result was that their coursework was completed to a high standard (all students participating achieved above their target grade on this and subsequent modules) and on time. Interviews with the students participating indicated that this was because they felt that there was a difference between this work and other tasks and they did not want to let down their 'employer' by handing in work late or to a low standard.

Other benefits were evident in the personal development of students. Gains were seen in terms of the confidence, motivation and behaviour of students. For example, the team leader chose to stand for election as head girl following this project - something that she explained she would not have been confident enough to do without the experience of leadership gained through this project.

Although there was a number of benefits from this work, there were still difficulties. …

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