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3) Economics, Business and Enterprise Education June 2011, No 100086

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Authors: Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)

Date: 2011


A summary of inspection evidence: April 2007 to March 2010. Evaluated the strengths and weaknesses in economics, business and enterprise education in primary schools, secondary schools and colleges.

Key Findings:

In England, enterprise education is regarded as part of the statutory work-related learning curriculum at English Key Stage 4 (ages 14-16) but there is no statutory requirement to provide enterprise education at English Key Stages 1 to 3 (ages 5- 14)

In English Secondary Schools, the provision for, and development of, all students’ enterprise capability (for example their problem-solving and team working skills, including negotiation, cooperation, planning and organisation) were often good but the provision for, and development of, all students’ economic and business understanding and their financial capability were less well developed and often weak. Students often had only vague ideas about the economy, interest rates and their impact, recession, inflation, why prices vary and the ownership of companies.

There were insufficient opportunities for students to engage directly with businesses and employers; the use of teachers’ questioning to extend and deepen understanding was often weak; and subject-specific professional development for teachers was patchy.

In 30 of the 39 schools inspected for vocational business courses, that were assessed wholly or mainly by internally set and marked assignments, inspectors identified a serious problem. Despite good results, the quality of students’ work, their knowledge and understanding, and their ability to apply learning to unfamiliar contexts and to demonstrate higher level skills, were often weak.

This was held to be due to a narrow and simplistic approach to the identification of assessment criteria that was common on such courses, and the fact that assignments were designed only to ensure that students were able to demonstrate these criteria in their written submissions
Even coursework that achieved high grades was often descriptive, included little evidence of first-hand research or direct contact with businesses, and lacked evidence of analysis or evaluation.

The main weaknesses in whole-school enterprise education provision, both in the primary and secondary schools surveyed, were a lack of coherence and a failure to identify and assess learning outcomes.

Many of the teachers deployed to deliver aspects of enterprise education were non-specialists, who had little or no training or experience of this area.

Focus of Study

It formally assessed economics and business courses for 14-18 year olds and considered whole-school enterprise education for all pupils in English primary and secondary schools. (ages 5-11 and 11-18) This included economic and business understanding, enterprise and financial capability. 28 primary and 100 secondary schools across England, five of which were special schools were inspected. 250 lessons in formally assessed economics and business education courses were inspected, and approximately 120 lessons related to enterprise education. The report also draws on evidence from 33 institutional college inspections in relation to this area of study.

Authority and Credibility:

The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects education and skills for learners of all ages among other inspection duties in England. These findings are gathered from a collection of visits to schools and colleges.

Implications & Comments:

This is an inspection report that locates strengths and weaknesses amongst the institutions that have been visited. The report appears parochial and uninformed of the research and practice that has taken place in England and beyond on this area. It makes judgements but lacks a conceptual framework that could lead to suggestions and advice that might be useful to administrators, researchers and practitioners.

Bibliographic Information

OFSTED. (2011). Economics, Business and Enterprise Education, No. 100086. London: OFSTED. Retrieved from http://www.enterprisingyorkshire.co.uk/documents/uploads/Economics business and enterprise education.pdf