GCSE Business Studies

GCSE Business Studies – OCR, Alain Anderton with Rob Jones

Williamson, Duncan

GCSE Business Studies – OCR, Alain Anderton with Rob Jones, third edition, Causeway Press, textbook and teacher’s guide, ISBN 978 1 4058 6451 0 (textbook), ISBN 978 1 4058 6754 2 teacher’s guide)

This resource comprises a textbook, a CD and a teacher’s guide. Let me begin with the CD which containsa full facsimile copy of the book and more. Each section of each page can be made interactive: click on a section to reveal additional resources. The resources are mainly restricted to PowerPoint presentations-the onesthat I viewed comprise simple listsand definitionsof terms used with minimal additional functionality.

The book is attractive and at around 230 pages contains useful information, discussion, cases, check lists and key terms. There are many case studies based on the real world: many of these have been sourced from the internet and there is the relevant URL at the end of each piece. You will find cases on a franchise, a delicatessen, a cooperative, a museum and more. Each is short and has been designed to bring out a particular aspect of business life or for the reader to work through a set of data.

Each chapter containsa relatively large number of questionsso the reader is able to spend time considering the contentsof the chapter. Many of the arithmetical and accounting problems are closed questions aimed at specific solutions. Other questions are open, encouraging readers to think creatively and widely about their answers. However, some of the questions at the end of the case studies seem very weak: there are questionsthat simply ask readers to repeat the words from the case study. Not a fair test of anything, I’m afraid.

Suggested solutions to the questions are provided in the accompanying teacher’s guide. I wasn’t impressed by these outline solutions to the chapter questions: in many cases all they do is repeat the words in the question, adding very little of value to teachers and students. The teacher’s guide also containswhat the authors call an “Active teach activity”: one or two paragraph fill-in-the-missing-words activities. Each chapter in the guide ends with a check list setting out what is covered in that chapter of the textbook: very useful and I think the PowerPoint presentations on the CD would have been better using these check lists than simply listing the key terms from the chapter.

I think the introduction to the accounting and finance aspects of the book is not well done: diving straight into revenues and costs is not a useful thing to do and it’s very strange that breakeven analysis is covered in just the second chapter of the accounting and finance section.

There are also several errors of fact and principle. Many definitions and descriptions are wrong or misleading. For example, the authors claim that overheads are fixed costs and that variable costs are called direct costs. They say that a budget is a forecast : no it isn’t – a forecast and a budget might be the same but they are not guaranteed to be. The definition of cost of sales is puzzling: “costs of production such as raw materials costs, direct wage costs and changes in stock.” So what is the cost of sales of a service provider according to this definition? Current assets are defined in the book as being the “liquid assets of the business” -well, you might get away with that, but stock isoften considered to be less than liquid hence the need for the acid test ratio.

I also don’t recognise the version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs presented here: I think the authors have tried to present a simplified version for GCSE students, but in doing so it has lost its proper meaning. Similarly, economies of scale are poorly presented. It’s not difficult to demonstrate why economies of scale come about and I believe that GCSE students could easily cope with realistic examples.

Would I recommend this book? Yes but with reservations: I wouldn’t trust it as my main textbook. For any fourth edition I would want the authors to review all their definitions and I would want around half of the cases and questions to be beefed up.

Duncan Williamson, freelance teacher, trainer, author, webmaster and spreadsheet modeller.

Copyright Economics and Business Education Association Autumn 2007

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