Teaching Resource: Play the Investment Game KS2

How would you like your pupils to try their hands at being a high-powered investor? Have they got what it takes to invest their money wisely and make money for their own future? What kinds of projects would they want to invest in at their age?

The 'Would you invest?' activity, which is the heart of the 'Risks & Rewards' site allows your pupils to try their hand at the whole investment process in a safe and secure environment. The twelve investment proposals which form the game are all real ones taken from the Baring Archive. These are investment proposals which were actually brought before the board of Barings Bank at various points in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Given the chance to invest in the building of a huge canal, wide enough to transport ocean-going ships from the Port of Liverpool inland to the City of Manchester how would your pupils respond? The accompanying documents allow them to assess the climate of the times financially, politically and in other ways. If they are unsure about aspects of the project they can call on advisers and agents in the field to give them more information about some of the key issues. Perhaps they need to know more about the other likely investors or maybe they need information about the engineering company who will be awarded the contract should the project go ahead.

A major project has been proposed to electrify the trams of West London around the areas of Hammersmith, Shepherds Bush, Uxbridge and Kew. Does this sound like a scheme in which your pupils would want to invest their cash? They will need to listen carefully to the proposal, take advice from people on the ground, maybe send an agent to find out more and thendecide how much of their capital to invest. Once they have invested their money, they will be informed as to the wisdom of their decisions. Will they have made themselves even wealthier or were their factors which they ignored or failed to recognise which result in them taking a financial hit?

Even if things go wrong in one investment package they can return to the start of the game and invest their remaining money in another project in the hope of recouping earlier losses. The whole activity aims to encourage the pupils to take risks where they feel them to be worth taking and to be cautious where that is the better course of action. The activity strongly encourages group discussion and decision-making. It requires the students to read, research and consider a range of documents, maps, letters and prospectuses all of which are original primary source material and are the same ones which were available to the board of Barings at the time of the original proposal.

  Whilst teachers of pupils at Key Stage 2 will not need to go into the whole process of investment banking in any depth there are many opportunities for teachers to relate the issues raised in the game to the lives of children at this age. How do they feel about the kinds of projects that Barings invested in and would they choose to invest in them today? Are there some kinds of industries and projects which they would not want to put their money into now? Taking part in the game will also inevitably lead on to discussions about the wisdom of saving for the future as opposed to spending today. As a young person where can you get advice about how to look after your money?