Business Studies Lessons

I have successfuly tutored many aspects of the Business Studies courses in as you can see in the respects below and also in the interactive quizzes I have published for GCSE and A Level . The following essential, key elements form the basis of my Business lesson plans, tailored to student needs:

For GCSE, AS and A Level Business Studies:

–  ratios, formulae and financial documents
Provision and revision of formula sheet for all the financial, operating, sales and marketing ratios, including definition, units of measure, why they are important, examples of calculation method. Also tuition step by step of how to solve problems and use ratios in real exam question situations. Many of the ratios have a direct cross over to Maths questions such as cost, revenue, depreciation.

With almost all of the Business  ratios I have personal real life business work experience of using these very ratios for analysis, decisions, peformance monitoring. For instance for fixed and variable cost, debtor days, working capital, capacity utilisation among others I have designed and run hundreds of company reports in the manufacturing, oil and gas, leasing, retail and charity sectors. In one past paper case study of a real blue-chip I can almost recognise my own name !

When you pull together the data, graphs and results to present to chief executives and general managers at Board Meetings you make sure results are right and you understand the ratios !

And of course with running my own tutoring business, annual P&L and balance sheets have to be prepared. The numbers are smaller, but principles the same as when I worked for bigger companies and worked alongside Chief Financial Officers !

A direct quote from the AQA examiners’ comments is “…centres should be encouraged to spend more time with their students developing their understanding of what each ratio actually measures, as well as analysing the significance of their importance”. (This is what I focus upon !)

–  specific expertise : includes operations management , and balanced scorecard
For several of the syllabus chapter sections I am both very familiar with the academic content and exam requirement, and also have leading edge business and industrial eperience of the very topic. So for the operations management section, covering for instance decisions on capacity, systems and location, and target setting, I was an operations manager for many years. I also undertook professional training in another syllabus topic, Total Quality Management and have run Kaizen quality groups  For the balanced scorecard, the method of measuring both financial and non financial meaures, I was one of the very first people in the U.K. to design and roll out a balance scorecard in 1992 following its invention by Kaplan and Norton at Harvard Business School. I was nominated for the Harvard University Hall of Fame for this.

Another quote from examiners: “Better students scored well for application for linking data from the appendices, i.e. linking higher than average number of kaizen quality groups with lower than average defects”  ( I have significant real life experience of quality groups and defect management)

So for the operations, marketing, financial and people/HR sections making up the Business syllabus I have created on-screen coaching cards which summarize each individual topic like Porter’s Five Forces, Business Ownership, Sources of Finance, Capacity Utilization, Motivation.
After each lesson I issue on line web quizzes on the topic of the day as well as past paper homework with recommended answers.

what the examiners want: the above experience is very useful, but of course has to be applied in an academic context. I have an M.B.A. and have also become very familair with the Business Studies Yr GCSE and A Level syallabae, such that I can offer guidance not just on the formula ratios and specifc content above, but also revision tips on how to summarise long chapters into one page mind – maps, and a summary of what the examiners want in term of issues identification, application to case studies, linking financial ratios to each other and to outcomes, analysis and evaluation. This is especially important for the 10-20 mark assess or evaluate questions where carefully constructed answers gain extra marks. I can also recommend sources for pre-reading such as web-sites and the Economist (of which I and my wife are long time readers).

A final quote from the examiners. “It is disappointing that many students are still producing lengthy unstructured answers which lose focus….incude points simply lifted from case study which are not analysed  in sufficient detail”. (I will address this ! )

So the lesson plan is typically a series rof focused lessons covering :

– financial, operating, investment marketing ratios, how to understand, use them in questions
– the key financial documents P&L, Balance Sheet, Cash-flow
– development of one-pagers or similar to aid summary revision for each long chapter
– on-screen coaching for a specific topic such as Marketing Mix, Boston Square, Productivity.
– practice at case studies and homework including focus upon what examiners specifically want
– identifying key control words in questions like assess and evaluate and constructing answers
– expert advice from experience on specific aspects of business tailored to student needs
– recommendations on sources of business pre-reading and web-viewing

I also have run short courses where I take a student’s practice full paper answer and mark it according to the examiner’s mark scheme and assessment objectives and prepare  recommendations for improvement, including a risk assessment for impact and likelihood of under-performance for the particular student and what mitigating actions to take.