Re-tale trade

Celia Flynn describes how television soaps can spice up GCSE business studies

The Simpsons and EastEnders are just two television soaps used to brighten GCSE business for more than 80 pupils at Epsom and Ewell High School in Surrey.

In The Simpsons, Mr Burns features as the autocratic manager, Homer as the reluctant employee, Bart helps students understand the consumer psychology of a particularly strong market segment (pester power), Lisa is the pressure group leader on the environmental front and Marge the oppressed ethical matriarch.

EastEnders can provide a wealth of knowledge for the study of types of business ownership and even the World Cup can be used to explain sponsorship, the role of a chairman, the job of an agent and salary differentials.

For their coursework, pupils investigate Walkers Crisps and present their findings in a word-processed report, including writing to Walkers to obtain information.

A second piece of coursework involves pupils researching costs and revenues for a potential business venture, giving them the opportunity to use software to do a break-even analysis. The ventures varied from running a dog-walking service to a disco.

Microsoft packages such as Word and Excel are in frequent use. The internet is popular with staff and pupils alike for gathering information. Popular sites are those of major companies, particularly ones selling products favoured by pupils, such as McDonald's, Nike and Addidas.

For revision, teachers, including head of department Chris Goodall and Kate Cusack suggest pupils use www.bbc.co.ukschoolsgcsebitesize and www.s-cool.co.uk. For research, they are steered towards www.bized.ac.uk, www.thetimes100.co.uk, www.londonstockexchange.com, http:news.ft.comhomeuk and www.lbs.lon.ac.ukno_flash_index.htm Both pupils and teachers use PowerPoint for presentations. Video recordings enable the business studies department to show up-to-date documentaries and news on virtually every aspect of the syllabus.

Digital video is used to record interviews and role plays and are then replayed so they can be analysed.

Celia Flynn is a teacher and chair of the Economics and Business Education Association

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