Down to business
General National Vocational Qualifications are here with a vengeance and most course teachers would agree that although one of their aims is flexibility, there is also a vast range of topics and information to be put across in ever-decreasing periods of time. Not only are there mandatory and optional units, but there are additional studies, and GNVQ teams increasingly adopt flexible modes of delivery with semesters, modules and units, and supported self-study. So teachers can do with any help they can get.
Business Case Studies from Longman provides teachers with a good deal of support when used with the student book. The first impressions are good, the case studies and tasks are interesting and immediately hold the reader's attention. The variety of case studies would be familiar and relevant, and so would appeal to most GNVQ students, and the information and answers are clearly set out and easy to follow.
The tasks throughout are focused and concise, but particularly good is the way theory and practice are linked with key concepts. For example, Anglo-Japanese co-operation is looked at by using real company experience while identifying key concepts of government and protectionism. Further work is also indicated, which is a bonus for well-motivated students, and clear and practical details are given for tracking individual progress.
The same publisher's Business Studies has been a popular A-level text, and now a workbook has been developed to support Advanced Business GNVQ students. This contains a great deal of detail and information, which is clearly presented, and concentrates on understanding concepts. The self-assessment tasks and exercises throughout act as a test for the student's knowledge in various areas and develop learning skills. There is a very useful section on support for managing learning and preparing students for practical assignments, which also offers valuable guidelines for "Working with Business".
The CRAC assignment pack provides student-centred tasks from defining business terms to preparing training materials for the following year's students and they cover all mandatory units and integrate core skills a key GNVQ demand. The information given is clear, and the graphics and visual presentation are good and would keep the readers' attention. There is an excellent variety of tasks and a number of group and pair activities.
The tasks are well structured, and a very helpful information bar appears at the beginning of each, giving details of all performance criteria and core skills covered, along with graphical details of whether individual or grouppairindividual activity or a task for the portfolio or factfile. This makes the assignments user-friendly and clear, and makes it easy for students to record their completed work and for teachers to monitor and track their progress.
Blank forms are also included for recording and assessing students' work, with particularly helpful grids showing how the grading criteria and core skills elements and performance criteria are covered in the tasks.
Heinemann's Business Foundation is an excellent resource which is easy to follow. The level is also completely appropriate. The material is split into information sheets, worksheets and activity sheets, all of which could be used individually or in larger chunks as required. Foundation students would be well able to work through these tasks using everyday experience and the elements are clearly identified, making recording manageable. It also helps teachers to monitor and track student progress. Keys at the end provide solutions to various tasks, and would be useful not only to assessors, but also, if controlled, to students assessing their own work.
All these packs provide the resources which are now so necessary for organising and delivering flexible GNVQ business programmes. They provide valuable curriculum materials and information for teachers, all of which can be photocopied. Whether they are used for supported self-study, or alongside other materials, or for the ever-increasing "surgery" work for students with gaps in their portfolios, they can help any GNVQ business team.
Eve Roberts is business studies co-ordinator at Manchester College of Arts and Technology.