Intent: why do we teach what we teach?

Our vision is: “All students will have the knowledge, skills and confidence required to: make sense of the world around them, reach informed decisions as consumers, and have the determination to follow ambitious future plans”. Our Business offering provides breadth to KSA’s curriculum at GCSE and in the sixth form. 

In summer 2019, the second cohort of GCSE Business students sat their external assessments. Due to a lack of exam materials and it being the first year of the new specification, predictions were lower than what the students achieved. Although we are proud of this, our students are not yet achieving their full potential nor are the results in line with other departments at KSA. As a result, we have made fundamental changes to the timings and delivery of the GCSE curriculum for Cohort 2023 onwards. This has been informed by reading educational literature and books such as ‘Simplify Teaching’ by Jo Facer. Strategies such as retrieval practice and dual coding are used within lessons to support knowledge retention. This restructuring will allow those beginning the qualification to build and develop a strong foundational knowledge in the first year, ensuring that all students are ready to explore more complex and heavier weighted units, such as Finance and Marketing, in Year 11. We have also chosen to focus on skills earlier on in the curriculum and the teaching of this has been informed by recent AQA training and the availability of more exam materials and model work. 

In the sixth form, BTEC Business provides an exciting and enriching opportunity for students that are not always able to access A Level courses and others who choose to study Business alongside other A Level subjects. Combined with Ark’s Professional Pathways programme, our sixth form curriculum prepares students for life beyond school. Whilst studying Business, students learn more about the world around them, they conduct in-depth case studies on real businesses, learn how to analyse both quantitative and qualitative data and develop strong research skills. Where there is flexibility in the content, we have thought carefully about the units that complement each other and ensure that students have the opportunity to develop key skills that are necessary in their future, such as the use of Microsoft Office applications and the ability to present and receive feedback. 

The initial exams are sat at the end of the year, rather than in January, to ensure that students can mature in their studies and develop their confidence in the first year. Finance has been a particular strength over the past few years with 45% of students achieving a Distinction in 2019. Across the Ark network, data shared shows that students achieve better in the summer sitting, which is further evidence for our decision. Students in Year 13 sit one assessment in January and then the final one in May.  

As well as learning about the business environment in the UK, we hope to instil a curiosity and passion in our students that is much bigger than their current scope of understanding. We believe that knowledge of the wider world is fundamental in becoming an informed citizen. Therefore, students learn about international trade and ethics and exploitation across the globe through the ‘International Business’ and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ units. Students also have transformational experiences with employers and key business partners, such as Capgemini, Salesforce and McKinsey and Co. Exposing students to experiences like this allows them to develop their soft skills and build confidence to prepare them for success after KSA. These businesses play a significant role in our curriculum by working with us to plan workshops that are complementary to our curriculum and the benefit that the students gain is immeasurable. All of the above provides the breadth and depth required to ensure students are successful after KSA and confident enough to follow their ambitious future plans. 

Implementation: how do we teach what we teach?

The table below outlines the number of hours per key stage and how pupil work is organised: 

Being part of the Ark Professional Pathways programme, teachers can access subject specific and unit specific training each half term. This support encourages collaboration across the network and utilises the experiences of all teachers. Those who teach exam units in sixth form always attend the feedback sessions based on the most recent exam series. For KS4, we have recently also undertaken training from the exam board. 

The KS4 curriculum has been redeveloped, informed by research from the Learning Scientists and reading about the curriculum at other schools. Best practice has been identified and is beginning to be implemented in Year 11. Best practice following the following processes. All students are provided with a knowledge organiser for each unit and a toolkit for accessing each question type. Each lesson is designed on a double-sided page which is shown under a visualiser. Lessons always start with a quick Do Now quiz which provides an opportunity for students to retrieve knowledge from previous lessons. New content is introduced through collaborative reading. The teacher utilises their intellectual preparation to pause at specific points where they annotate the text, use dual coding or question the students. Comprehension questions then allow the teacher to check for understanding before applying the knowledge to a real-life scenario or business case study, where students utilise their skills. All lessons finish with an Exit Ticket, often in the form of an exam question, which allows the teacher to assess whether the learning objective has been met. Shared resources help to ensure that all students have a similar experience of studying GCSE Business and members of the department focus more on intellectual preparation. 

At KS5, a well thought through LTP informs all planning. All units, coursework and exams, then have their own MTPs. Different combinations of units have been taught since the beginning of this course at KSA, and each year decisions are made about which units are best to prepare the cohort for life after sixth form. Examination units are taught using work packs which include lots of opportunity for retrieval practice, embedding knowledge, case study application and extended writing. Our curriculum for the external assessments is improved each year using data from our cohort’s results and the Lead Examiner reports. Work for coursework units is completed in exercise books. Lessons focus on the knowledge and skills required to write excellent coursework and then students write this independently outside of the classroom. 

Throughout our curriculum, all students are expected to work towards the same challenging learning objective. We recognise that students will need scaffolding to reach this and we are embedding the use of model answers, live modelling and live feedback to ensure all students are supported but challenged. We are working towards more deliberate practice and then independent practice to allow students time to practice and embed what they have learnt. 

Homework is another department priority this year. In KS4 and the exam units in KS5 it follows a similar process where students review and consolidate their learning from the week, self-quiz on key subject specific vocabulary and then contextualise this using a case study or application questions. Understanding and using key vocabulary is so important, as is teaching students to revise effectively and independently. The homework tasks are designed to be accessible to all students and provides opportunities for them to embed key knowledge and practice important skills. 

Impact: how do we know what pupils have learnt and how well they have learnt it?

Increasing the frequency of feedback and assessment is a department priority. In KS4, books are marked in line with KSA’s feedback policy which is once every six lessons. Students are then given feedback using codes or a highlighted target sheet and time to improve their work. As well as this, data is collected using multiple choice quizzes on every sub-topic and the students complete checkpoint assessments at the mid-point and end of a unit. This allows the teacher to assess the knowledge and skills developed and identify misconceptions.  

In KS5, the assessment policy is followed for the examination units. Students complete a tri-weekly assessment every three weeks. From this information, teachers plan a reteach lesson to ensure that gaps in knowledge are addressed and skills are consistently being improvement. All assessments and reteach work should be stored in the student folders so that they can recognise the progress that they make over the year. Historically, Finance results have been very strong. Students perform better in Y12 exams than in Y13 ones, partly because the ones in second year are much more complex and demanding. Teachers use software provided by the exam board to analyse strengths and weaknesses of the students and work on the curriculum for the next cohort. 

For coursework, students complete work to meet assignment criteria specified by BTEC. They receive feedback in a timely manner and may resubmit their coursework in line with BTEC’s guidelines. For those who do not meet expected deadlines, we have created a policy (in line with the exam board) that allows them to complete a ‘re-take’ so that they can continue with their qualification. As a result of high-quality teaching which has a focus on improving the standard of writing and literacy, almost all of our students achieve Merits and Distinctions in their coursework. 

We are very proud of our BTEC results where, based on Government analysis, we achieved above average progress for Cohort 2019. Many of our students went on to study Business at university, as single or joint honours, others chose other subjects at degree level (such as Law and Economics) and some went onto apprenticeships.