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What's in store when running a business

A COMPUTER game that replicates the running of football clubs' shops is persuading pupils that they could do well in business.

Since starting in October, 35 schools and 1,200 pupils have taken part in a pilot of The Sports Store Game, which is free. It is hoped more will participate when an updated version is launched from April 23.

Computing giant Microsoft and the Scottish Qualifications Auth-ority worked with Rangers and Hearts football clubs to introduce the game, originally developed for New Zealand's education department. Other clubs are being persuaded to take part, so pupils can "run" a shop for their local side.

Success is measured by an equally weighted combination of financial profit, social contribution and personal health. The highest-scoring companies, therefore, do not necessarily make the most money.

Players must make moral choices when, for example, a batch of clothing turns out to have been made in a sweatshop. Resources are being created for addressing such issues, and it is possible for teachers to engineer games so that predetermined scenarios arise.

Pupils tend to play during personal and social education, in teams or individually, but some continue at home. They compete against pupils in other schools, and keep track of a league table.

David Reid, 15, a fourth year at Queen Anne High in Dunferm-line, holds one of the country's top scores. He already had ambitions to run his own business, but the game has given him more confidence. "It's a game for learning - it's not just to play because you're bored," he says. "It gives me insight into what it's like to run your own business. Now I know there are disadvantages and advantages."

Shona Cochrane, principal guidance teacher at Queen Anne, is impressed that children are made to think for themselves: "There are few things in Scottish education where the pupils are totally responsible for the outcome."

She believes the game persuades more pupils to consider running a business.

"I had a fourth-year girl who was top of the class. She was amazed that she'd have the skills needed for a business," she says.

Sports Store roadshow April 23-27 www.rsvpbook.comevent.php?415876 l www.sportsstore.org.uk

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