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Tried and Tested - Property ladder

Subject: Business studies

LessonL: Purchasing power

Ages: 16 to 18 (or younger)

Supplied by: John Bateman, business studies FE teacher from Worthing, Sussex

1. What is it?

A lesson on living standards and exchange rates that will work well in the current economic climate.

2. Who is it aimed at?

It's AS-level or GCSE standard, but could easily be adapted for younger pupils. I've used it with college students on the first year of the Btec National Diploma in Business.

3. What do you want the lesson to achieve?

This lesson helps pupils to understand fluctuations in housing markets, living standards and lifestyle differences, and helps them to hone their business skills.

4. What happens in the lesson?

Brief pupils that they have inherited a huge sum of money or have won the lottery. The amount is the same for each pair or group of pupils. They must invest the money in foreign property to a given specification (that is, number of bedrooms, bathrooms, garage and so on). You select the countries and allocate them.

5. What comes next?

The pupils go to a currency converter website and find out how much they get in local currency. They then visit various overseas property websites. Pupils will have fun searching around to get the best bargain and draw up a shortlist of value-for-money homes that meet the specification. They also need to research transaction costs - for example, local property taxes (the equivalent of our stamp duty). They present their best value property and compete for the title of "winner".

6. Why would you recommend this lesson to other teachers?

The success is in the enthusiasm of the pupils. Also, the follow-up activites are many and varied. For example, they could go away and research average wages in a certain country. This gives them a much better idea of what can actually be afforded. The exercise also maintains its value - unlike housing - through both boom times and slumps.

7. Give us three top tips

- Research the market first to find a good site. Rightmove has a foreign property search facility. Visit www.rightmove.co.uk.

- Build on the competitive side. This seems to come naturally as the pupils become mini estate agents.

- Draw out - or ensure the pupils draw out - the economic drivers that underpin the property market.

8. Some useful resources

- World currency converter: www.xe.com.

- www.bbc.co.ukhomespropertybuying_ buyingapropertyabroad1.shtml - has a useful guide to the legal and administrative steps to buying abroad.

- www.pfeg.orgteaching_resourcesresourcesindex. html - offers a variety of teaching resources on personal finance.

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