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:
(Chapter 8 of Time for Business)
This topic has strong links to LO 1.8 and is also relevant for LO’s 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.1 and 2.6. The material dealt with in the chapter provides students with knowledge and understanding of the role and importance of financial institutions. It outlines the array of financial services on offer to households and individuals and should provide students with a strong foundation for further study of related topics including savings and borrowing.
Yet again this is a familiar topic for those of us who have been teaching the ‘old’ Junior Cert Business Studies syllabus and I don’t think I changed my teaching approach too much from what I’d done in the past. I did however make a lot more use of the activities in the textbook and student activity book and felt this helped to dilute what can be an ‘information heavy’ topic. As ever students enjoyed the ‘doing’ aspects associated with filling forms and foreign exchange calculations, though a small number of students found the numeracy element challenging. It was a big advantage that so many of my students already had personal experience of financial institutions. The vast majority had at least one account in at least one financial institution.
I made a particular point of examining the impact of digital technology on personal banking (links with LO 2.6 and TFB chapter 21). Students undertook some research and prepared posters and infographics outlining the how to use an ATM and the importance of PIN security. This was the first time that we made a concerted effort to develop infographics and the standard of the work varied widely. I think it was partly my fault and in future I will make sure to discuss and agree the success criteria with students in advance of the activity. I hope this will provide them with greater clarity and will lead to better quality infographics.
I also made use of the following link (a UK website) in order to enable students to practice using an ATM:
This worked really well on the interactive white board and students were able to explore a range of services on offer.
Finally I focused quite a bit of attention on the bank statement. I think the ability to analyse this document is a very important skill for students to acquire.
Business Studies Blog
Chapter 3: Household Expenditure
By happy coincidence the following article, was published just before I began my lessons on household expenditure.
As a result I was able to provide students with a very short introduction to the topic, before using the article as a scaffolding exercise. We read the article together in class and teased out the new vocabulary. We created a list of key words. I also asked students to make a list of the major categories of household spending. For homework the students created bar charts to represent the information.
All in all this proved to be a relatively straightforward chapter to teach, again because of the familiarity of the material to both teacher and students. The students seemed to grasp the key concepts pretty quickly and displayed good understanding when completing activities in class and for homework.
There is quite a lot of numeracy involved in this chapter and for the most part students were happy to engage with it. There are certainly plenty of opportunities for students to practice numeracy activities and most seemed to enjoy the challenge.
I felt that the section dealing with analysis of household spending patterns was very important and I made a special effort to connect the news article (used at the outset) to the material on pages 26 -28 of the textbook. This textbook material uses charts to illustrate and analyse household expenditure by category and also deals with solutions to overspending. It’s very much a personal view, but I perceive this material to be very relevant from an exam perspective. It also helps build understanding for the household budgeting chapters which follow.
Leaving aside the exam perspective for the moment, it’s important to bear in mind that an over-arching aim here is the promotion and development of ‘positive’ spending habits in our students. By this I mean providing them with the capacity to develop sustainable patterns of expenditure which are closely aligned to both their needs and their resources. Many financial difficulties experienced by households are the result of poor and unsustainable patterns of spending rather than once-off financial mishaps. Households are more likely to live beyond their means when they focus on wants over needs; prioritise discretionary expenditure over more important fixed expenditure or continuously make high value purchases on impulse. Changing or preventing these types of spending patterns is where the life-long learning occurs. This chapter is really about starting that discussion and raising awareness. Don’t forget that L.O. 1.2 makes clear reference to “best managing financial resources” and “making informed and responsible judgements”.
I focused a little on students own spending, but was reluctant to analyse it too much mainly because I was conscious of the different financial circumstances within the class. While the students did some homework on this, it was never openly discussed in class in order to avoid any potential embarrassment for students. Students personal spending was however useful for revisiting the issue of discretionary income and highlighting examples of discretionary expenditure.
Business Studies Blog
Chapter 2 : Household Income
Having completed the chapter on ‘resources’ I began to teach my students about the complementary topics of household income and household expenditure. From a teacher perspective this is very familiar material, but I used the anticipation exercises to establish the level of prior knowledge amongst my students. At the outset they had a relatively limited appreciation of the sources of household income, but this is hardly surprising given their age. Inevitably most students cited examples based on their personal or household circumstances.
We discussed a range of income sources for households, including employment income, pensions and other social protection payments. The only element of controversy in our discussion was the suggestion (by some students) that social protection payments should not be a long term source of household income and reliance on this form of income should not be a lifestyle choice. I assumed this was a case of students repeating some of the things they have heard at home and I used the opportunity to focus student’s thoughts on the purpose of taxation and the role of government in income redistribution.
I only dealt with this issue at a very simple and superficial level and some students showed greater levels of engagement with the discussion than others. Nonetheless, it was interesting to hear how clearly and passionately they were able to express their views. Overall, I was happy with the debate and accepted it was really just an opportunity for sowing seeds which can hopefully be harvested in future (Strand 3) discussions. On this occasion I felt however that the blending involved in these topics was too much of a detour for my students so I returned to the core topic of household income. In hindsight perhaps it was just too much of a detour for ME personally and maybe I should have allowed the discussion to explore those other avenues. I know I was concerned about the time involved and worried that we would drift too far from the lesson objectives. After all ‘time’ is a scarce resource, and I’m not exactly sure how best to use it on this first encounter with the new specification. The whole issue of time allocation has been a concern of mine ever since I started to write the textbook, but I’ll save that issue for a separate blog piece in the very near future.
Benefit in kind income proved to be a little confusing for some students while others found the calculation of wages to be problematic. This section illustrated perfectly the challenges associated with teaching a mixed ability group and there was a huge variation in the ability of my students to deal with calculations. For this reason it may be advisable to adopt a step by step approach to these questions and have some extra material available for those students who are particularly adept at numeracy.
Students understood the difference between statutory and voluntary deductions and were able to provide relevant examples of both. The distinction between disposable and discretionary income was not so easily understood, and on reflection I feel I could have explained it more clearly first time round. When the end of chapter self-assessment highlighted this confusion, I made a point of revisiting the topic, thankfully with more success.
The family income plans (in the student activity book) were completed with little difficulty and these are important steps in the household budgeting process (see Time for Business chapter 5).
Learning Outcome 1.2 states:
Identify and classify sources of income and expenditure, compare options available to best manage financial resources, evaluating the risks associated with each option and making informed and responsible judgements.
In our view, the following are the key ideas and messages for this topic:
The overarching aim of this learning outcome is the development of effective financial management skills.
The focus is on financial planning, risk assessment and the ability to choose between alternatives. Upon completion, students should be equipped to make informed financial decisions which are appropriate to their circumstances and life stage.
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