A good way of getting pupils to look at the economy and how it functions is to think about how we as individuals spend our money, and how the amount that the Government takes away in tax is divided up.
First, look at the issue of how people spend their income. Pupils can start by picking out jobs they would like to do and researching the possible wages they would receive in return. They can work out their tax and national insurance deductions by taking away the basic tax-free allowance from their annual wages then deducting roughly 25 per cent from the rest (to get more information about tax allowance go to www.direct.gov.ukenMoney TaxAndBenefitsTaxesBeginnersGuideToTax).
Pupils can work out their monthly take-home pay by adding the remainder of their income together with their tax-free allowance, and dividing the total by 12. Ask pupils to look at the cost of buying and renting property, purchasing furniture, utility bills, food and entertainment to give them a basic idea of how to budget.
It's now time to look at the other half of the equation - what the Government does with our cash. Brainstorm with pupils about where they think our tax money goes - for example, health, education, the welfare state.
Then hand out A3 copies of a blank budget sheet and a set of fake money. Ask pupils to work in groups of three or four to decide how they think the Government spends from the public purse. They can place the "money" on the relevant sections of the sheet to indicate how they think it is divided up. You can check their estimates against the actual amounts on the Treasury's website (www. hm-treasury.gov.ukbudget).
Points can be given to the teams who guessed closest to the correct amount. This lesson helps pupils understand taxation and recognise the benefits for society
Shelley Wilson is an alternative curriculum leader at Colbayns High School in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex.