Learning Outcome 1.13
Monitor and calculate income and expenditure data, determine the financial position, recommend appropriate action and present the analysis in tabular and graphic formats.
Links to LO’s 1.2, 1.5, 1.12 and 2.12
In our view, the following are the key ideas and messages for this topic:
Having studied Household Budgeting (Learning Outcome 1.12) and Analysed Cash Books I deviated a little from the scheme of work outlined in the Teacher Resource Book.
I had always felt that the ‘personal financial lifecycle’ (see Time for Business Chapter 4 and LO 1.3) represented something of a capstone element for Strand 1. To me at least, it seemed more appropriate to provide students with a detailed insight into to each of the individual elements (budgeting, taxation, pensions, insurance etc.) before finally connecting all of them at the end through the creation of a realistic and comprehensive personal financial life cycle.
During most of the writing process for the textbook, this had been my intention and approach but I later decided to reorder the chapters so as to follow the Learning Outcomes’s (LO's) more sequentially. It should be pointed out that there is absolutely no requirement to follow the chapters, or indeed the LO’s, in any specific order. Having said that, there are clearly some concepts that are more fundamental than others and also some related chapters that make up distinct ‘units of learning’.
As I reviewed the material again in preparation for my class, I began to feel that my initial instincts had been valid and in some sense this LO was misplaced. It strengthened my conviction to deal with each element in turn before tying the whole lot up with the life cycle later in the year. At the same time I still wanted to reinforce the idea of making plans to suit changing personal circumstances and aspirations (see household budgeting), so I spent just one class outlining the concept of a personal financial life cycle to students.
I really just used the infographic on page 30 of TFB textbook to start a discussion on changing financial needs. I put the diagram on the whiteboard and we had a ‘chat’ about what it meant. We also looked at the case studies for Emily and Priyal on page 33 of TFB textbook. The students contributed really well to this discussion although their knowledge and understanding was superficial in some areas. Overall though they really seemed to grasp the basic premise that financial needs change over time and planning should reflect those changes. We did not however get into any detailed discussion of issues like taxation, insurance or pension planning.
If the intention of the new specification is to “meet the students where they are”, it was clear to me that some of them at least were not quite at a stage where pension planning or taxation was on their radar. I only spent a single 40 minute class on this topic. I will return to it at a later date, having completed the chapters on household finance, insurance and taxation. I feel students will have a better understanding of the issues at that point and should be in a better position to prepare a realistic personal financial life cycle.
Immediately after the section on household budgeting we tackled Chapter 6 which deals with recording income and expenditure in the analysed cash book. The most relevant Learning Outcome here is 1.13: Monitor and calculate income and expenditure data, determine the financial position, recommend appropriate action and present the analysis in tabular and graphic formats.
Once again this is a topic which is very familiar to teachers of the ‘previous’ Junior Cert curriculum and I didn’t approach or teach it any differently than I had done in the past. I emphasised the difference between the PLAN of what was expected to happen (household budget) and the RECORD of what actually occurred (Analysed Cash Book).
At the outset at least this is very much a ‘teacher led’ topic as students need to be made aware of the basic rules, layout and procedures involved in recording financial information. Once they had a good grasp of these issues I spent a lot of time checking student work. At this stage the emphasis changes to a ‘learning by doing’ approach and the students had a lot of opportunities to practise their technique. As I observed student work I was focusing on their ability to correctly apply the book keeping rules as well as emphasising the need for neat and presentable work.
Inevitably the ‘balancing’ and ‘totalling’ tasks proved to be the most problematic for students. We worked through all of the questions in the Student Activity Book and I got students to complete many of them in Record Book 1. While I am aware that some other textbooks don’t seem to be promoting the use of Record Books for book keeping, when writing 'Time for Business' we have taken the view that this is a useful ability for students to acquire, especially if they are likely to keep personal financial records or go on to study accounting.
We completed this unit of learning by combining the material in chapters 5 and 6 and looked at budget comparison statements (chapter 7). The focus here was on analysing outcomes, identifying deviations from the plan and using the analysis to inform future planning.
It remains to be seen whether this is a specific requirement for the new JC specification but we felt that this approach helped students to appreciate the difference between financial planning and record keeping. Perhaps more importantly it enabled them to see planning as one step in a process (see financial control cycle diagram on p59 of TFB textbook) and understand that just making budgets is not enough. Plans need to be checked and evaluated against expectations and actual outcomes. The idea is to get students to reflect on the differences; figure out why they happened and how they can be avoided in the future. All in all this is the essence of effective financial planning, and to my mind, goes to the very heart of LO’s 1.12 and 1.13.
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