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Lesson Activity - ‘Face It’ multiple choice quiz on topical economic news stories

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Continuing our theme of sharing engaging activities, here's a fun teaching resource that lasts between 15 and 20 minutes called 'Face It' - a resource that has been extremely popular when we've used it during our teacher CPD events.  On the grounds that it may still be too early to test understanding of a particular topic, this version asks 10 questions about topical economics news stories to see how closely your students have been following the news!

'Face It' is a multiple choice quiz with a typical tutor2u twist!  Students are shown the questions at the start of the quiz (but not the possible answers) and asked to work out which questions they feel most confident in answering.  Then the fun really starts!

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Why do 17,000 children under five die every day?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The overall rate of infant mortality has been halved in the past two decades.

That's the good news. But Unicef' s latest figures estimate every day 17,000 under-fives die - 6.3 million a year - from largely preventable causes. Most of the deaths happen in the first hours or weeks following birth.

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Short presentation on ‘Perfect Competition’

Here's a pleasant and short Powerpoint presentation on Perfect Competition that you may wish to include as part of any lesson on the subject.  The presentation shows how price, supply and average and marginal revenue shifts as more firms enter the market and the impact that has on profits.

Click here to download the resource 'Perfect Competition'

Look out for more diagram testing resources as part of our upcoming Wow Economics CPD events.  Regular blog contributor Virang Dal has created a Powerpoint resource called 'Diagram Dissection' that asks students to identify the 'body parts' of a series of 28 economic diagrams.

Growth vrs the environment: deforestation

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The growth vrs the environment debate is great for opening a thoughtful discussion about the net benefits of economic growth. Some participants take what might be described as a Kuznets Curve approach to the issue. That might be simply summarised as things get worse to begin with, but after a while they start to improve (OK, I’m simplifying a bit here). In environmental terms, you might illustrate this with the Peak Stuff idea. For several years now, the UK economy’s total consumption of physical resources has been falling. In the past, growth made our economy more and more damaging to the environment. But future growth might have far less of an impact, and even contribute to significant environmental improvements.

What about tropical forests, which observers in the last decades of the 20th century noted were under severe threat? The Economist newspaper seems to take an optimistic view. Future growth may have far less worrying consequences for tropical forests.

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Recent Changes to UK Competition Regime

Here is a useful update on recent changes to UK competition law - pertinent for teachers who want to keep up to speed with reforms to competition authorities including the creation of the Competition and Markets Authority.

WOW! Economics 2015 - the UK’s Leading CPD Course for A Level Economics

WOW! Economics 2015 is tutor2u's flagship CPD course for ALL A Level Economics teachers.

WOW! Economics 2015 builds on the phenomenal success of the previous two years with yet another resource-packed day designed to provide teaching colleagues with effective and innovative teaching & learning materials.

The 2015 course features completely brand new teaching & learning resources - if you've been on a previous WOW! Economics, you are in for another treat! We've listed these resources further below.

The feedback from previous WOW! Economics courses has delighted us and we've grown the team of contributing Economics teachers to ensure that WOW! Economics 2015 is our best-ever. 

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Teaching the New A Level Economics: Mastering Quantitative Methods


Teaching the New A Level Economics: Mastering Quantitative Methods

London 10 December 2014

Manchester 17 December 2014

Download booking form

A key feature of the new A Level and standalone AS specifications (for first teaching from September 2015) is a greater focus on quantitative methods.

The Ofqual subject criteria with which awarding bodies must comply states that specifications must require learners to:

"...develop analytical and quantitative skills in selecting, interpreting and using appropriate data from a range of sources"

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Costing/Revenue activity to set in class or for homework

Friday, September 12, 2014

Here's a short activity in testing student understanding at working out fixed, variable, average and marginal costs and then total, average and marginal revenue.  Using a 'Smartwatch' case study as the backdrop the activity asks students to calculate costs and revenues and then work out the profit maximisation and sales maximisation points.  Oh yes, and students have to plot a chart as well!

Click here to download the Smartwatch activity

Contrasting approaches to managing road traffic

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The transport economists amongst you will be giving considerable thought to the question of tackling road traffic congestion. I’ve picked up on two stories here because they take contrasting approaches. The first is to use technology and regulation to tackle the problem – the so-called command and control approach. The other relies on price signals, so might be described as a market led approach.

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Storify and Economics

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Storify is a wonderful tool for promoting external reading to our students and for making reading articles or viewing videos interesting as opposed to being a chore. Take a look at my account on Storify to see how it could be used as part of your teaching portfolio 

The Eliminator Quiz - Introduction to AS Economics

Here's an engaging 5 to 10 minute activity for your next AS (Year 1) Economics class. The 'Eliminator' quiz does not cover any specific topic but acts as a way of finding out what your students may already know or to stimulate discussion.

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Economics Teacher Meeting at Eton College

Economics teachers from schools and colleges throughout the UK are cordially invited to a one-day event at Eton College on Monday 17th November.

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After the BRICs, the GIPSIs: Tackling Europe’s Problems

The Euro zone lurches into yet another crisis, with fears of deflation and a further drop in output.  There are several dominant explanations of why Europe has been unable to recover from the crisis.  Most commentators subscribe to them either on their own, or in various combinations, depending on their tastes.

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Wow Economics Returns for 2014-2015

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Wow! Economics is back for the 2014-2015 academic year with 40 brand new resources.  If you've not been to a previous version of this Economics Teacher CPD event then come along and enjoy a fantastic day of engaging resources aimed at inspiring students and improving their potential grades.  If you've been before then don't miss out on a whole new set of activities to add to your catalogue.  We guarantee that you'll have colleagues looking over at your desk and wondering where they can get something similar to spice up their teaching.

For dates and venues click here.

To find out about what we've got in store, read on....

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United Queendom -  Economics of Scottish independence

Monday, September 08, 2014

The economics of Scottish independence has been turned in to a gay romantic comedy in an online series launching today. The mini-series ‘United Queendom’ tells the story of a couple on the verge of separation: Scott and Adrian argue over oils (for the bath), who controls the credit card, membership of ‘The Club’ and whether they should aspire to be like their neighbour, the Scandinavian model.

At the end of each episode, the viewer is presented with a choice of endings and votes on whether the couple breaks up or stays together. Embracing the apathy of some of today’s voters, the poll also includes an option for those who just ‘don’t care’. The ending with the most views will be declared the winner.

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“You Don’t Know What You’re Doing…”

This might be a familiar refrain on matchday, as yet another referee gets it in the neck from a partisan crowd - as the chap who officiated the Germany-Scotland game did, no doubt. However, it's rare for economists to be humble enough to admit that, many's the time that we aren't always as certain of economic outcomes as we think we are.


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Perfect weather and a bumper wheat crop – impact on the market

Sunday, September 07, 2014

A great example to start you off looking at how economists understand markets: after a run of rain-wrecked years, British farmers are bringing in the last of what looks like a bumper cereals harvest. 2014 could be the biggest yield ever for wheat. Good news. But for whom?

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Ebolanomics: tackling drug development

This west African health crisis is a tragedy. It could be an issue that stimulates an economics discussion. According to James Surowiecki in The New Yorker there are no real tools to stop the deadly Ebola outbreak in West Africa. The lack of treatment is disturbing. But given the way drug development is funded, it’s also predictable.

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Welcome to Economics!

Welcome to the many new students taking Economics for the first time as schools and colleges begin a new school year. 

Here are some links for Economics students wanting to keep bang up to date with a fast moving subject! 

Impress your Economics teachers by showing them you are following the news and the many issues that form an important part of year 12 Economics courses. You'll reap the rewards too when it comes to the exams in the summer.

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How much should we pay for expensive cancer medication?

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Many students look at health care spending and rationing decisions when they cover the introductory concepts of opportunity cost, scarcity and the cost benefit principle. In this recent BBC Newnight report, the decisions taken by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) - the organisation that decides whether treatments are cost-effective enough to be purchased for patients by the NHS. Cancer drugs especially those that provide targeted medicine for a small patient population can carry a very high unit cost per patient and this is taken many of these drugs above the level that NICE will allow, even though some of these drugs so make a significant difference.

Should cancer drugs be taken out of the NICE cost benefit calculation or should drugs companies make more effort to lower their prices?

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Tim Harford on the art of prediction

A great video to use in the classroom as a prompt for discussion. Bad forecasts matter - they affect millions of people. Why are forecasters so bad at their jobs? Complexity is fundamental and when forecasters are also prone to bias when making their projections. Is there hope for better forecasting from a group known as the super-forecasters who seem to be uncannily good at making predictions?

Watch the video below

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Business Economics - hard hats on for banana wars

We are taking business growth as our first topic for unit 3 this term, and the FT has some excellent resources to introduce the subject, in th form of short Lex video discussions. The three that I have used look at Fyffes attempt to buy Chiquita, which has been 'gatecrashed' by two Brazilian firms, Carillion's bid to buy the much bigger Balfour Beatty, and then to cover demergers, Barclays' sale of their Spanish business.

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Where’s the best place to live?

Friday, September 05, 2014

Will the best place to live - as identified by the Economist newspaper - be found in the country with the highest GDP per capita?

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Welcome Back! A quick fire resource for your returning A2 students - ‘Whilst you were away’

Following a similar format to last week's AS 'World of Economics', this free resource available from the download link below is a rapid 10 minute starter for the first class with your returning A2 students.

Entitled 'Whilst you were away', the resource shows a montage of images.  Each image also has a question and all relate to news stories from around the world during the months of July and August 2014.  The montage remains on screen with a 3 minute timer fading away at the bottom of the screen - ask your students (individually or in small teams) to answer all 9 questions in the 3 minutes available.

Then go through the answers one at a time - there is an individual slide showing the answer to each question plus a supplementary question for each image to stimulate discussion about how the news stories impact on economics.  This is a Powerpoint resource so feel free to edit the questions as you see fit.

Click here to download the resource

John Lanchester - How to Speak Money

John Lanchester is a superbly accessible author on financial economics and his latest book How to Speak Money looks well placed for use by economics departments. 

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Growth in Baristas Drives Down Average Wages

The relentless rise of the high street barista economy is a factor causing a significant shift in the pattern of jobs in the British economy. Many higher paid jobs in manufacturing have been lost replaced by hundreds of thousands of relatively low paid work in the service sector. The Guardian reports here on a new survey from Incomes Data Services.

Student-led Research in Economics - PowerPoint Profile Sheets

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Many thanks to Geoff for providing three PowerPoint-based resources designed to stimulate some research by economics students on a selection of countries and businesses of their choice.

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Wall Street no smarter than Mr and Mrs Average

Lurid stories about the excesses in the UK housing market continue to proliferate. True, there is some evidence of a cooling, as the price rises tempt more sellers into the market and temporarily increase supply relative to demand. But at the same time we learn in the Sunday Times that the good burghers of Cobham enjoyed on average – on average! – an increase in the value of their homes of no less than £647,000 over the past twenty years. Other areas in the Home Counties saw similar huge capital gains.

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International Competitiveness - a new ‘Higher or Lower’ game!

Download this engaging teaching resource to test student awareness of the international competitiveness rankings!

You may have already seen Geoff's blog on the newly released International Competitiveness Index.  The World Economic Forum annually release its table of competitiveness using a variety of data measures including economic performance, quality of education and labour efficiency.  The UK has moved up to 9th in the World.

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Water scarcity in China - China’s Yellow River under threat

An excellent short report from Lucy Hornby of the Financial Times on how large coal and oil projects along the course of the Yellow River are causing water shortages for millions of people and threatening the local farming industry. Water has composite demand - it has many uses and farmers along the famous yellow River are finding that the country's rising thirst for energy is placing increasing demand on the supply of water from the river. Difficult choice are having to be made.

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UK 9th in global competitiveness rankings

The UK has nudged up to ninth in the annual assessment of international competitiveness established by the World Economic Forum. Click here for the UK data and here for the report as a whole

More comment and details here:

BBC news:

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Could a “Citizen’s Income” address tax and welfare problems?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Here are a couple of current UK problems. Firstly, although the economy is recovering strongly, tax receipts aren’t. Secondly, flaws in the way the welfare system operates may be creating disincentives in the labour market. Could a radical proposal: streamlining the whole welfare system by paying everyone a ‘citizen’s income’ help?

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Doubts about Fair Trade

According to The Economist there is a long history of efforts to distinguish products that have been made more ethically than others. In the late 18th century, anti-slavery campaigners urged British consumers to boycott sugar from the West Indies in favour of supplies from India. Today’s fair-trade movement took off in the 1960s, mostly in religious organisations that wanted to help the poor, whom they saw as losers in the global trading system. Fair Trade is a really important issue for discussion.

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Quiz on the World Economy in Figures (2014)

Here is a new twelve question quiz drawing on economic indicators from the Economists's Pocket World in Figures (2015 edition) which has just been published. Good luck!

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Global Economy - In the Balance (BBC)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

In the Balance is a weekly programme on the changing dynamics of the global economy broadcast by the BBC World Service. Have a check through their episode listings, there is much here for students looking for extension and enrichment listening and for teachers passionate about their subject, not least in the fields of growth and development economics. Here is the link to the programme:

Lesson Activity - Categorise Factor Inputs in the Focus Circle

Here is another ready-to-use edition of our thinking-skills resource Focus Circle which provides an engaging way to teach factor inputs.

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Vertical farming in developing countries

Friday, August 29, 2014

Raising farm yields in a sustainable way not least because of the challenges of water scarcity is one of the biggest challenges for lower income countries (and advanced nations too!). This blog from the World Economic Forum explores innovative vertical farming. Will this type of farming get the finance to be scaled up? What are the possible consequences for employment in farming sectors traditionally have absorbed a high percentage of employment? This is a good article to read to build your contextual awareness.

Below is a video on vertical farming from the high income country of Singapore

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Water industry - Ofwat curbs price rises

Here is an important example of regulatory control of utility businesses with regional natural monopoly power. Ofwat is requiring regional water companies to cut their bills in real terms for the next five year pricing regime. Regulatory agencies are often accused of failing to be sufficient strong with suppliers leading to allegations of regulatory capture i.e. producer interests dominate consumer interests. Ofwat may be an example of a regulator that avoids this criticism. Click here for the article from BBC news

John Lanchester explains the language of money

QE, dead cat bounces, margin calls, hi-frequency trading, derivatives, hedging and yields. The irrepressible John Lanchester tries to de-mystify the language of money in his new book! Here is a report on the subject from BBC Newsnight.

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Lesson 1 Activity - The World of Economics

Looking for a 15 - 20 minute activity to start your first lesson with new AS level students over the next week or so?  We've got a nice introductory quiz for you!

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Movie Posters

After stumbling across a couple of good movie poster makers via the @ukedchat Twitter feed, I decided to knock a couple of quick ones up to brighten up the walls of my classroom. You can make your own resources here: or

You can also download the two that I made below here: Movie_Posters.pptx 

If anyone has any other great display resources, why not post them up here or contact me @mrwoodeco.


Can we manage with a cashless society?

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I really enjoyed reading this blog from Simon Taylor on the diminishing role of cash in contemporary economic life. Increasingly most cash is held in high denomination notes, even small scale transactions such as buying a coffee at the railway station or a book at the airport bookstore are paid using debit and credit cards. Is cash as a medium of exchange in almost permanent secular decline?

Simon Taylor looks in his blog at the concept of seignorage - the return on producing notes and coins for governments and their central banks. 

Just recently I lost both of my debit cards and was grateful that I usually hold fairly large cash balances to ease my way through a week or so without a card to use. It certainly made me more aware of what I was spending!

Here is the link to the blog:

Scottish Independence and Fairytale Land

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sir James Mirrlees is one of the mere handful of British recipients of the Nobel Prize in economics. As his fine old Scottish surname might suggest, he has been active in the debate on independence. His latest intervention, which has attracted considerable publicity, is to pronounce that an independent Scotland should be willing to repudiate its share of the UK’s public sector debt. This would be, Mirrlees asserts, a bargaining chip to be used to ensure that a currency union with the rest of the UK will be set up. The Bank of England would continue to act as a lender of last resort to the Scottish banking system.

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The Economics of the First World War

As commemorations continue, there is a feature on the BBC website, where Economics Editor Hugh Pym looks at the impact of the Great War on the UK economy. It’s a short, accessible piece with some interesting video clips.

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Rethinking Economics: Adair Turner

Lord Adair Turner delivers the opening keynote speech of the Rethinking Economics 2014 conference at UCL

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Tim Harford on Monopoly and Innovation

Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist has written an excellent article here on the impact of large scale monopolistic businesses on our economic welfare. Originally published in the Financial Times, you can read it in full by clicking this link to Tim's website.

Are highly profitable monopolies a crucial source of innovation (improvements in dynamic efficiency)? Or should we be looking for rigorous competition policy to address the X-inefficiencies often associated with established market dominance?

Tim writes 

"The ferocious cut and thrust of smaller competitors seems a more reliable way to produce many of the everyday innovations that matter."

Bedales Conference on Innovative Education

I am delighted to speak at this new event to be held at Bedales School in Hampshire on Thursday 9th October. More details of the event can be found by clicking this link:

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Business Economics: Amazon buys Twitch

Here is some background on Amazon's all-cash purchase of live gaming site Twitch. Read through it and consider some of the likely business synergies from the acquisition. 

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Olive oil prices set to rise after drought hits supply

Here is an excellent example of how adverse weather conditions can impact on the market price of a staple item in millions of people's supermarket trolleys. 

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Is Angel di Maria the ‘real’ record holder?

With all the flurry of football transfer activity happening over the summer months and Manchester United spending a hefty £59.7m for Argentinian winger Angel di Maria, there has been lots of talk about transfer records. With this transfer surpassing the £50m paid by Chelsea for Fernando Torres, the record for a British transfer fee has changed a lot since the first holder of the title, Willie Groves in 1893 went for just £100. You can get a nice history here in this article at the BBC These figures do not represent the 'real' value of the transfers however.


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