An interview with Business Studies writer Janine Scammel

We speak to our Business Studies writer Janine Scammel, to find out about developing our latest Business Studies content.

“I have to admit, it was weird listening to my own words in the Pods!”

Janine has been busy writing our brand new Business Studies content for us, and is about to see it put into immediate use within her own school. “We’ve already started promoting the Business Studies content on our VLE, and I sent the whole department some samples of the new content so they can see what it’s like and how it can be used,” she explained. No pressure then!

But of course, her department and students are in very safe hands, as Janine’s writing draws on her vast teaching experience, as well as her experience as GCSE exam marker. This allows her an insight into the national picture of what students tend to struggle with, led by the common errors she sees when marking. She’s then able to figure out new ways to help students overcome these problems, and apply that in her writing. It’s meant that she’s been able to write in a way that addresses a national audience of GCSE students.

So, how did she get involved with writing for us? “The Vice Principal mentioned that GCSEPod was developing Business Studies content, and thought that I might like to get involved. I thought yeah, I’ll jump at the chance!” she recalls. And writing has fed back into her own teaching too, keeping her knowledge fresh and inspiring her to change the ways she teaches some topics. Not that she’s ever been a stranger to mixing things up in the classroom:

“For a topic on Blue Sky Thinking, I dress up in a bin bag. I do this at the start of the course, and the kids remember Blue Sky Thinking in their GCSE exams more than a year later through me acting like an idiot in a bin bag in year 10! I’m always asking for feedback from my class, and if they don’t like it I think right, guess we’ll scrap that and try something else. But I can think of a boy in one of my classes who I thought wouldn’t have remembered my Blue Sky Thinking lesson, who years later recounted it to me. You might feel silly at the time, but if they remember it then that’s what’s important.”

Janine wanted to make sure students would also find memorable moments in her writing, by asking them questions to get them to apply their own worldview to the content, or giving relevant real-world examples that would speak to their own experiences. Her logic of breaking it down and making it relatable also applies to the more difficult topics like Finance.

“Students think of Finance and they think ‘oh no’! You have to do a case study and do a cashflow forecast, and I know that students can find this quite difficult. So I’ve tried to put it into a business context in terms of a business that they would know about. Then I’ve included really simple formula examples, so that the focus is on the equation, not a tricky answer. When they leave the class they’ll then be able to apply that to harder questions. You’ll find some students who absolutely fly in it, and then you’ll find some who struggle more, but once we get those equations sorted generally 95% of them are fine, and some just need a little bit more work.”

Another consideration is that catering to a wide range of abilities through writing offers a different challenge compared to a classroom setting: “In a class you’ll be able to give a different task to a higher ability student, and help the middle students achieve the higher grades as well. But with the chapters you have 3 minutes to grab everyone’s attention and teach them all something new, from the person who’s getting A* to those for whom this is a completely new topic. You have to cover every single aspect, adding challenges in there as well. I hope I have written in a way that gets absolutely everyone thinking.”

She’s loved the experience of writing: “Honestly, I just loved writing the chapters. It really was a lot of fun!” Unsurprising really, for a teacher with such an obvious passion for teaching. She likens teaching to having 30 different work colleagues in the same room, each bringing something new to the table.“I love what I teach, and I love everything that I do, but it’s the students who make it different every single day. You never know what they’re going to ask you.”

With the new Business Studies content going live this academic year, Janine is looking forward to finally being able to use GCSEPod for her subject: “It’s going to be really good, because everyone else has raved about GCSEPod and now it’s my chance to use it!” And audio-visual learning will be an easy sell to her students, as she’ll be able to tell them that this is exactly how she teaches, but in 3-5 minutes chunks. Great news, in fact, for all GCSEPod Business Studies users.

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