What is business?
Business is an exciting and dynamic course which examines how businesses work internally, and how they respond to changes in the wider world and society. Students learn a range of skills in marketing, finance, business strategy and global business.
It is well-suited for students who can write well, have an interest in the world of business and entrepreneurship, and possess good numerical skills.
We follow the Edexcel specification.
What will I study in Business?
We start the course by learning about how entrepreneurs create ideas, market their products and manage people. The initial emphasis is small businesses and is useful for those with such ambitions in mind. We then extend our learning to cover finance, resource management, and how the wider economy and society impacts on business.
As we progress through the course, we look at business strategy for medium and large businesses, how businesses expand into global markets and the importance of competitiveness. We study change management in an increasingly uncertain world. The final exam is synoptic in nature and you will need to be able to make connections between all of the different parts of the course and how businesses fit into the wider world.
Staff and facilities
The department is based in the new Woodsmoor building and enjoys two well-equipped, spacious teaching rooms.
One of our teaching rooms has a suite of networked computers, enabling pupils to explore the considerable IT potential within the subject. Both classrooms have interactive whiteboards and multimedia facilities. We are a lead department in the development of the school’s online learning environment SGS Online.
There are two full-time teachers and one part-time teacher in the department. The department has grown in recent years due to a significant increase in pupil numbers at A-level. We also train and develop associate teachers in the department from a range of universities.
During the first year in Marketing and People (Theme 1) we will learn about how entrepreneurs create new ideas and start their own business. The emphasis is very much on small businesses and is useful for those with such ambitions in mind. It also considers the marketing mix and focuses upon how businesses can effectively manage their staff.
In Managing Business Activities (Theme 2) we extend our learning to cover businesses that operate on a national level, with more emphasis on larger scale management and the effects of external influences. There will also be a focus upon the financial side of running a business.
During the second year in Business Decisions and Strategy (Theme 3) we learn about big, global, multinational businesses and the differing strategies they pursue to survive and prosper in an increasingly uncertain world. We study finance, marketing, human resources and operations management in much more depth, with more emphasis on how these all work together.
In Global Business (Theme 4) we consider the impact of globalisation and how businesses change their marketing strategies when entering overseas markets.
Typical issues we might consider in the course include:
- Why do business start-ups often fail?
- How does a firm decide the best strategy for marketing a product?
- Are employees motivated by financial rewards?
- Do firms such as BP, McDonalds and Nestlé do business in an ethical manner?
- How important is leadership in business success?
Business is suitable for a range of students. Whilst the course will not necessarily teach you how to get rich, it is useful for anyone considering starting their own business or pursuing a career in the business world. A-level Business is, in particular, valued by employers because of the practical skills learned on the course. The course is also of value for a wide range of professions including accountancy, law, finance, retail, management or any career that demands an understanding of the wider world. Good written skills are important, particularly the ability to analyse using business theories.
A-level Business is assessed at the end of the two year course through three 2 hour exams. Themes 1 and 4 are assessed in first paper followed by Themes 2 and 3 in the second paper. The examining session finishes with a synoptic exam based on an investigation into a particular market with a theme of the competitive environment.
How useful will Business be to me?
Business is very useful for anyone considering starting their own business or working in business. It also supports a range of professional careers including accountancy, law and management, while also giving students who are interested in design and technology increased customer-focus. Most careers involve some element of the Business A-level.
Business is very highly regarded by the Confederation of British Industry and is accepted by the vast majority of universities and in all respected university business schools.
Who should study Business?
Business as a subject covers a variety of disciplines and skills so it is suitable for a range of pupils from the Humanities subjects, together with those considering A-levels that are practical in nature.
It combines especially well with Design Technology, English, Maths and Humanities subjects such as Geography and Psychology. You should have the ability to produce good, extended writing, and have good numeracy skills.
ifs Student Investor Challenge
The ifs Student Investor Challenge is a UK-wide investment game for students with a top prize of a trip to New York.
Students invest a virtual £100,000 in a set of stocks and watch their wealth grow! This is a tremendous opportunity to learn about stocks & shares and how global financial markets work and is open at present to upper sixth students.
We also run a share club for our fourth years.
We are a registered Young Enterprise centre of excellence.
The department also runs the Young Enterprise company programme for the Lower Sixth, which is open to all members of the Sixth Form irrespective of what A-level subjects they are doing.
Under the flagship company programme, students set up and run a real firm for a year under the guidance of a business volunteer. They get practical experience of the joys and pitfalls of creating a truly functioning enterprise.
They do everything from raising the initial share capital through to designing and making their product or service to selling directly to customers at specially organised trade fairs and ultimately winding up the firm and paying their taxes!
At Stockport Grammar School, we have enjoyed success at regional and national level in recent years. We have won the Stockport, Rochdale and Tameside Finals for the last 3 years. In 2017 we reached the National Finals in London after winning the North West regional competition, and in 2018 we made it all the way to the North West Finals. We have also regularly won awards for ‘Best Company Report’ and ‘Best Presentation’.
In 2017 the department ran its first overseas trip to Prague; in 2018 pupils are embarking on a Study Tour to China. Such trips provide pupils with the opportunity to visit local businesses and understand how other economies operate, consider the external factors affecting the country and its businesses and enhance their knowledge of globalisation.
IGCSE Business Studies
Stockport Grammar School also offers a Twilight IGCSE Business Studies option for 3rd and 4th year pupils. This involves pupils being taught after school for a 2 year period, with the option of entering for the CIE IGCSE Business Studies examination at the end of the course. We are currently working with our first IGCSE cohort and will continue to offer this course in future years.
The department also runs extra classes either during lunchtime or after school on advanced, interesting topics that we would not normally cover on the A-level course. These extra sessions also include a programme of speakers from local businesses.
We also provide support for those applying to do related courses at university, including those applying to Oxbridge.
In the news
- Young Enterprise team ready for Greater Manchester final
- Pupils czech out businesses on trip to Prague
- Young Enterprise team to represent North West in National Finals
- Enterprising minds ready for North West Final
- Finance expert gives career top tips
- Pupils show their enterprising side to reach final