Business GCSE is an option subject which students can choose in Year 10. They will have had some experience of enterprise activities through the PDC curriculum in KS3 and many will have experience working with parents or even as young entrepreneurs themselves prior to this. Students at Pate’s will go on to study a range of subjects at A Level and embark upon a range of careers, yet nearly all will need to have a strong understanding of business in order to thrive beyond school. Whether as a dentist or freelancer running their own practice or as a manager in an organisation, the study of business will provide the crucial knowledge and understanding of business concepts, business terminology and the integrated nature of business activity, as well as the impact of different types and sizes of business on individuals and wider society.
The journey starts with a focus on running a small business. They learn about the skills entrepreneurs need and begin to develop these by creating a business plan which they pitch at the end of Term 1 to real ‘dragons’. Along the way, they draw on their work in mathematics to develop and apply quantitative skills relevant to business, conducting real market research and constructing break-even charts and cashflow forecasts. They go on to examine the external forces at work which affect business decisions on a small scale, such as interest and exchange rates, and consider the objectives of a range of business stakeholders.
Then, after two terms they start to examine how a business develops beyond the start-up phase. It focuses on the key business concepts, issues and decisions used to grow a business, with emphasis on aspects of marketing, operations, finance and human resources. At this stage they also consider the impact of the wider world on the decisions a business makes as it grows. They learn about what motivates workers and how large companies organise themselves for maximum efficiency. They learn to read and interpret company accounts and consider how to improve cashflow, profit margins and market share. They play the Student Investor competition to learn more about how stock markets work. They visit a large business to focus on customer service.
Our approach to preparing them for the GCSE ensures that they investigate a wide range of issues to construct well-argued, well-evidenced, balanced and structured arguments, demonstrating their depth and breadth of understanding of business. We aim to ensure that they develop as effective and independent students, and as critical and reflective thinkers with enquiring minds. They leave us with not just these skills but also wider skills for employability, such as presentation skills, problem-solving and initiative.
The study of business then provides a useful base from which to go on to study Economics at A Level, since the examination skills are similar and students already have a solid foundation of the role of business in the economy and the impact of the economy on business. Furthermore, a number of our students will go on to study Business at university or undertake degree apprenticeships in accounting and management.