Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

OFSTED's View of Business Education

Magazine article Teaching Business & Economics

OFSTED's View of Business Education

Article excerpt

This article explains the current position of business education within OFSTED, offers a definition of business education and uses inspection evidence to identify current strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.


Specialist advisers in OFSTED provide advice on standards and developments in subjects to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools (HMCI) and other government departments, support the work of other HMI across OFSTED and identify and disseminate findings from inspection activities, including examples of good practice. Specialist advisers form OFSTED's Curriculum, Advice and Inspection Division.

There are 18 HMI located in other divisions in OFSTED who have a specialist interest in business education. About half of them are in OFSTED's Post Compulsory Education Division and spend a considerable proportion of their time inspecting business education in sixth form colleges and colleges of further education. Another HMI has a remit for inspecting teacher education and training for business education. Other HMI currently spend a relatively small proportion of their time inspecting business education.

The bulk of OFSTED's evidence comes from the statutory inspection of schools and colleges. Inspections are carried out in accordance with the inspection frameworks and the subject guidance provided for inspectors. The introduction of full inspections of school sixth forms has greatly enhanced the evidence base on post-16 business education but it remains relatively slim at Key Stage 4.

In 2001-02 business education was reported on in detail in 105 colleges of further education and sixth form colleges, 107 school sixth forms but only in 23 schools at Key Stage 4. Additional evidence comes from focused exercises, such as the one that led to the publication of `Good teaching, effective departments' (OFSTED, 2002), which includes a section on business studies. Exercises in the current academic year involving business education include inspections of the new GCSEs in vocational subjects, the Advanced Vocational Certificate of Education (AVCE), New Opportunities Fund training for ICT and a comparison of vocational education in different countries.

Retrieval from all the available evidence on subjects contributes to HMCI's Annual Report, which also includes a subject annex with a section on economics and business studies. All OFSTED publications, including school and college inspection reports, inspection frameworks and guidance for inspectors, are available through the OFSTED web site


We have defined the term `business education' in OFSTED to be: `the learning process through which young people acquire a knowledge and understanding of the nature and role of business and its organisation, the economic environment in which it operates and the contribution it makes to the creation of wealth and to the satisfaction of human needs and wants. This process also involves the development and application of skills, attitudes, and personal and social qualities for living and working in an industrial society.'

It is a broad definition which encompasses the subjects of economics, business studies and vocational business courses. It includes the cross-curricular theme of economic and business understanding (EBU) which helps young people make sense of their roles as consumers, producers and citizens. It also provides a framework of concepts, knowledge and skills that make a considerable contribution to the development for vocational education, workrelated learning and enterprise education.



40 The number of pupils taking business courses both at Key Stage 4 and post- 16 remains healthy. There are over 100,000 entries for GCSE business studies, making it one of the largest subjects outside of the national curriculum. …

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