When I taught Business Studies at GCSE level, my intention was always to ensure the students in my class went away with knowledge and transferable skills. I did this by using the ASDAN Wider Key Skills qualifications or through the Certificate of Personal Effectiveness. In short, students who opted for Business Studies went away with academic and skills qualifications that would make them more effective employees than their peers in the future.
Here’s an example using CoPE: The learners had to cover the topic of ‘stakeholders’ as part of their GCSE. I set up a task where the learners planned a meeting at which they would take on different stakeholder interests around a decision that needed to be made (CoPE – Discussion unit). In this case, the task was set around a local context. Being based in Scarborough and a football fan, the task was; ‘Should Scarborough Athletic be allowed to build a new stadium in the town at a proposed site?’
Students organised themselves into stakeholder groups who were for and against and discussed their overall response. Learners then went away individually and planned and prepared their own stakeholder involvement in the discussion.
The next week came and the meeting took place. The learners had a great discussion and conducted themselves, on the whole, very well. As part of the CoPE Discussion unit they had to review their performance, which was completed through peer assessment (random selection determined who assessed who) and a personal review of their own performance and participation.
The students were very respectful in their constructive criticism and each learner gave the other good advice for improvement. As the leader of learning I provided an observation checklist for each learner about their contribution, how they used vocabulary, how they listened, how they asked questions and how they helped move the discussion forward. The observation checklist was part of the standards required for the student to achieve that element of the qualification. The other assessment and review elements all fed into the observation checklist and they were also used by the learner to reflect and develop their skills further in the future.
Let’s not forget the academic learning that took place. Following that review process students answered an exam question about stakeholders. With very little direction or rote learning and without any revision, the students all achieved at least their target grade. Many students demonstrated over-achievement on expected progress. They also eventually passed their CoPE qualification after successfully completing the other five skills units.
How did this happen? The students were engaged in the learning. They took part in a real-world activity that generated a deeper understanding of the knowledge they required. They made some of their own decisions about their learning and acquired skills learning and academic knowledge through a discussion. Using the CoPE student book as the curriculum this Discussion unit could be linked to Section 2 – either challenge 2A10 or as an ‘Other agreed challenge’ for challenge 2C.