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  • GCSE Business: a force for good?

    Colin Leith, Pearson Subject Advisor in Business & Economics, considers the role of the GCSE business qualification today, and throughout its history, in our latest #BeInBusiness blog.  

    “If you want to create a business when you are older, make sure you don’t listen to other people’s opinions. In business in general people will tell you it is impossible. You have to think the impossible is possible.”   

    Those are the words of Deraj, a GCSE business student from Hamstead Hall Academy in Birmingham – suggesting that entrepreneurial skills often mean going against the grain and taking a leap of faith. It’s clear that to Deraj, being in business is not an abstract concept. It’s real and relevant.  

    It is this entrepreneurial spirit that many GCSE business teachers are looking to build on. While starting a business will involve an element of risk, a solid foundation of research and applied study of the subject leaves you with every chance of success.   

    A changing landscape  

    When I first started teaching in the early 1980s Business Studies didn’t exist as a school subject. As an Economics and History teacher I was asked to offer O level Commerce, a new departure for the school I was in at the time. I wouldn’t describe the Commerce qualification as entrepreneurial; it certainly didn’t encourage learners to challenge orthodoxy. A year or two later, however, the Hampshire Business and Information Studies (BIS) project was launched, and this encouraged teachers to approach the subject in a different way (including using computers in their teaching). It was this, I believe, that started the revolution in Business teaching. In some schools, BIS was regarded as a challenge to more traditional subjects, and this may have allowed it to innovate at a faster pace.  

    So, the study of business has evolved considerably over the years and more recently, prompted in part by the work of the Peter Jones Foundation, the role of enterprise education has emerged as an important feature of both formal qualifications and enrichment activities in schools, and business and enterprise educators have become increasingly aware of the importance of ensuring that their subject reflects the lived experience of their learners outside the classroom.  

    Start studying business early to encourage inclusive thinking  

    One of Deraj’s Business teachers at Hamstead Hall, Aki Atwell, advises that for teachers to ensure the future diversity and inclusion of learners in GCSE Business, it is important to encourage enterprise education early on. By introducing enterprise education from as early as Year 9, teachers are able to help build interest in the subject, particularly among learners who might believe business isn’t for people like them.  

    “It encourages students of all abilities because enterprise can lend itself to all abilities. The balance between males and females within the classroom choosing business studies is important. Sometimes we have had it previously where the subject of business has been heavily taken up by males, but we are seeing more of a balance through the examples of businesses we introduce into the subject.”   

    Can GCSE business help break down stereotypes?  

    In business and more broadly in society, discrimination and inequality are becoming less acceptable, and people are increasingly realising that businesses need to be representative of the communities in which they operate. Having said that, there are still challenges: women still earn less than men in the workplace, and there is an even wider pay gap for black women.   

    One contributor to the breaking down of stereotypes is in the careful choice of case studies chosen by Business teachers, ensuring that both male and female leaders are represented for example. According to the HESA (Higher Education Statistics Agency), in 2019-2020 with 48% of Business Management students were female, and educational materials used in schools should reflect this more or less equal split between the sexes.   

    The future of GCSE business  

    GCSE Business can certainly play a part in both reflecting and shaping a world which strives to embrace diversity and inclusion in both its educational and its work environments. It is the responsibility of all educators to try and ensure that the world learners experience in classroom case studies allows them to imagine a future for themselves in a world of equal opportunities.  

    To find out more about Pearson’s #BeInBusiness campaign and their commitment to diversity and inclusion in business and education, as well as free resources, please visit: go.pearson.com/beinbusinessbypearson and follow @PearsonSchools and #BeInBusiness 

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  • The top three factors all teachers should consider when thinking about Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Business

    If we want to create a truly modern and evolving business environment for the future that represents the communities in which it operates, then ensuring diversity and inclusion in the business curriculum is crucial.  

    Ensuring diversity and inclusion in the business curriculum is crucial if we want to create a truly modern and evolving business environment for the future, where all communities in which it operates are represented.  

    Kevin Lyons, Pearson’s HR Manager and Diversity, Equity & Inclusion champion, explores the top three areas business teachers can do to ensure representation in their teaching. 

    1. Learners today, business leaders tomorrow  

    Learners studying business today will become the entrepreneurs and business leaders of the future. If the representatives and case studies we use to illustrate our teaching of business in the classroom do not reflect those learners, then we are effectively portraying the message, “you are not welcome here.”   

    Every minute of every day, people in business shape how the world collaborates. We need to ensure that in our teaching of business we are not reinforcing stereotypes but showcasing innovation among all communities. We need to demonstrate that all kinds of people can succeed and that, ultimately, business is relevant to everyone, every day.   

    2. Diversity and inclusion in business makes sense  

    Research published in May 2020 by McKinsey & Company found that companies with more than 30 percent of female executives outperformed companies where this percentage ranged from 10 to 30 per cent. In turn, these companies were more likely to outperform those with even fewer women executives, or none at all. And it was a similar scenario when looking at ethnic and cultural representation.  

    If people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and experiences are excluded from the boardroom, it becomes more difficult for the business to understand the environment and communities within which it operates.  

    We need to be thinking about that when producing our lessons and ensure the students from every race, ethnicity, gender, background, orientation and ability feel welcome to claim their space in the sector so that businesses in the future can function as a force for good in communities, and everyone is valued for the contribution they bring.  

    3. Unconscious bias can pass on for generations  

    When we bring our own unconscious bias to the classroom as teachers, we can transfer that bias on to our learners.  

    If we never show a black woman or a disabled person as a pioneering and successful entrepreneur case study when teaching, how does that impact our learners' perspectives and decisions when they are running their own businesses and recruiting a new Business Manager or Executive Director in 10 to 20-years’ time?   

    There is a danger that our own biases are transferred across the years (often without intention). And yet, with work, we can challenge those unconscious biases head on and ensure that we showcase stories involving people from a wide-range of backgrounds.

    It is important that we look within ourselves in order for this work to be done and progress to be made. By tackling our unconscious biases now, we can not only ensure that our students are represented in our teaching, but we can also encourage change for the good.  

    4. Looking to the future   

    These may seem like small steps for business teachers to take, but in the ever-progressive world of business, these actions can empower and inspire our bright young learners of today, who will begin to shape a brighter tomorrow.  

    To find out more about Pearson’s #BeInBusiness campaign and their commitment to diversity and inclusion in business and education, as well as free resources, please visit: go.pearson.com/beinbusinessbypearson and follow @PearsonSchools and #BeInBusiness 

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  • Providing extra depth and challenge with Power Maths

    Power Maths logo

    Teachers sometimes ask how they can provide extra challenge for children who complete their independent practice quickly. Alongside the need to engage and stretch all learners, there may also be a practical consideration about class management, and the need for the teacher to support those whose understanding isn’t secure. Here are some suggestions to help ensure all children are appropriately challenged, as you work with the Power Maths resources.

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  • Sharing digital Abacus resources with your class

    Boy using tablet

    Did you know you can send Abacus resources for children to access via their own logins? This might be invaluable when children miss lessons through illness or having to isolate at home, but it could also help you with setting homework or providing access to digital resources on devices in school.

    This blog takes a quick look at the resources you might want to share and how to do it.

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