Business Studies Lessons

I have a USP (Unique Selling Point)! Not only do I know the Business syllabuses back to front but I also have real personal front line experience of working in almost every business department.   I have successfully tutored many pupils in the Business Studies courses as you can see in the respects below and also in the interactive quizzes and slide-packs I have published for GCSE and A Level and Entrpreneurs. 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. I have prepared an extensive interactive multi choice quiz on financial calculations like % gross profit and break even, and reports like cashflow and balance sheet .

With almost all of the Business  ratios I have personal real life business work experience of using these very ratios for analysis, decisions, performance monitoring and training manages and workers alike to use them. 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 !)

My own specific expertise : includes operations management , Total Quality, and balanced scorecard
For each of the syllabus chapter sections I am  very familiar with both the academic content and exam requirement, and also often have leading edge business and industrial experience 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  

A quote from examiners illustrates the importance of knowing about Quality: “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)

For the balanced scorecard, the method of measuring both financial and non financial measures, 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. 

The data analytics that have become popular during the pandemic where we have all followed the trends and graphs and moving averages – well for many years before I was promoting the use of dashboards and scorecards in business and designing software to display them.  

The Business academic syllabus.
So for sections making up the Business syllabus such as the entrepreneur, motivations, operations, marketing and selling, financial, people/HR, and  external influences  I have created on-screen coaching cards which summarize each individual topic and techniques like Marketing Mix, SWOT Analysis, Porter’s Five Forces, Business Ownership, Sources of Finance, Capacity Utilization, Productivity, Herzberg and Taylor 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 and material 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 familiar with the Business Studies Yr GCSE and A Level syallabae, such that I can offer guidance not just on the formula ratios and specific 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 BBC 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….include points simply lifted from case study which are not analysed  in sufficient detail”. (I will address this ! )

Entrepreneur

I include a set of slide packs I created on the topic of “Entrepreneur” about which examiners often ask questions. There are seven themes such as Finance, Marketing, Stakeholder relations, and on each an extensive slide-pack with activities and exercises, starters and plenaries, and multi choice interactive quizzes. Also included are many real life case study videos and business lessons from well known celebrities like Baroness Karen BradyLevi Roots, Lord Alan Sugar to the rags to riches, start up to multinationals like Deliveroo and Brewdog; the charming story of rapper Labrinth taking two teenagers to an East End market stall to learn the art of selling; the man who converted his grandma’s jam recipe to an international business; the inspiring stories of start-ups surviving and thriving in the Pandemic and opening zero-waste Green businesses.

Lesson plan in summary is typically a series of 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 syllabus 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 including from from my own real life business experience on specific aspects of business tailored to student needs
– recommendations on sources of business pre-reading and web-viewing including using short clip videos from famous and upcoming business people and entrepreneurs

Marking service for sample mock long questions

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.