A Level Secondary Secondary Economics

Secondary Economics and Business – Preparing students for Oxbridge

Providing a pathway for students to elite universities

When teaching Business and/or Economics we recognise the importance of high academic standards. However, do we really consider the need to offer students strong links for progression to university early in their academic career? From my own experience, providing a formal pathway for our students at Key Stage 4 to Oxbridge or indeed the Russell Group universities, rapidly improves academic attainment, progress and enjoyment of learning inside and outside of the regular curriculum.

There is so much out there to acknowledge and celebrate the achievement of Gifted & Talented students through enrichment opportunities in and outside of school, all tailored to preparing students for the top universities within the country, and in particular the Oxbridge admissions process.

I recently had the pleasure to hear Mike Nicholson, Director of Undergraduate Admissions at the University of Oxford speak to some of my own students. He highlighted the importance of reading outside of the regular curriculum now and early. I would highly recommend the great offer from The Economist magazine running right now, only £3 for 30 issues. Why not get all of your Economists to sign up?

In addition, Oxford and Cambridge provide excellent reading lists for students in Economics. The admissions process for the UK’s elite universities are rigorous and complex. Getting students to read such material now improves their chances greatly. Ask your students to produce book reviews based on their reading as a stretch and challenge activity.

From my own experience, Cambridge and Oxford offer some really outstanding pathways taster days with great presentations and sample lectures. The London School of Economics also really goes out of its way to provide opportunities for students to experience what it has to offer with Open Days to suit all. Get in contact with these institutions and you will find it to be a very simple process. Be aware that most opportunities are limited to ten students and have strict deadlines to register your interest.

The most important criteria for entry are not only high examination scores, but a demonstrable ability and interest in Economics and a robust enough personality and work ethic to cope with very demanding courses. The top universities are really looking to examine how a candidate thinks, rather than how they’ve been coached or what they’ve been taught.  The ability to think divergently and creatively is paramount. Why not set up weekly discussions on the school’s VLE and get your students thinking about current economic issues?

It is clear that Ofsted always want to see how pupils benefit from a programme of enriched, challenging learning that targets their needs as well as their strengths. Building a formal pathway for students year to year with a solid framework of regular visits, master classes, divergent thinking sessions, public speaking, regular extra curricular reading and discussions will build upon school strategies for improved G&T provision and give those students some early tools before applying for such institutions further down the line.

Daniel Baker
Teacher of Business and Economics
Trinity Catholic High School

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