Sixth form students solve economic problems

Over one hundred sixth formers had the opportunity to discuss some of the world’s economic problems at Ipswich School’s third Economics conference on Thursday 26 November 2015.

Students studying A Level Economics at five secondary schools from Suffolk heard speakers from leading universities and economic think-tanks talk about current economic issues, including the role of the UK within the European Union. 

The teams from each school also took part in a World Trade Game, where they had to make and trade products, whilst representing different types of countries.  They had to try and make as much money as possible, but each team had different issues to face, such as a poor financial base, or few resources to make items to sell.  During the game twists were introduced such as reductions in the sale price for items and the closure of the market.  The aim was to get the students thinking about economic issues, and to experience first-hand how hard it can be to be successful in a global trade market.

The Economics and Business Studies Department at Ipswich School organised the conference, and Sheila Pugh, one of the Economics teachers involved said: “The aim of the day was to get sixth formers thinking about economics on a global scale, by having outside speakers come and talk about current economic issues that go beyond the confines of the A Level syllabus. This year we have focussed on Britain and the EU and many of the students here today will have the opportunity to vote in the forthcoming referendum.”

The schools taking part in the conference were Ipswich School, Northgate High School, Suffolk One, Farlingaye High School, and Woodbridge School.

The lectures were given by Oliver Walker, Economist and co-author of the Rough Guide to Economics: We’ll fight them on the beaches - Brexit and the environment; Professor Iain Begg, LSE: Could it be Brexpulsion rather than Brexit?; Andrew Sentence, PwC and ex-member of the MPC: How is the UK economy performing and is there really a Productivity puzzle?

Speaker Oliver Walker is an Old Ipswichian. Acting as Banker during the World Trade Game, Oliver admitted to finding it quite a stressful job in the game. Oliver said: “It has been wonderful to be back amongst so many bright young economists from all over Suffolk. I wish they had had this kind of thing back in my day!”

There then followed Question Time: Britain and the EU. The panel consisted of Prof Stephen Bush (UKIP), Iain Begg, Andrew Sentance and Oliver Walker. The students asked some searching questions centred round the issue of ‘Brexit’. These gave rise to some heated exchanges between the panel members especially over the issues of immigration and potential threats from terrorists. The session was ably chaired by Cameron Lyle, a year 13 Economics student at Ipswich School. The final question asked panel members how they would vote in the coming referendum if they were an 18 year old. Only one of the four would vote to leave the EU!

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