Teaching Resource: Play the Investment Game KS3/4

Cross Curricular Teaching and Learning Resource, with links to:
KS3/4 Mathematics
KS3/4 Business Studies and Economics
(More detail of curriculum links can be foud at the bottom of this section)


How would you like your pupils to try their hands at being a high-powered investors? Do they have the necessary skills to turn themselves into millionaires? Could they become the next Alan Sugar or Richard Branson?

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.

For teachers involved in delivering exam courses in Economics or Business Studies this activity will fit well into aspects of the programme of study related to investments, economies of scale, competition and monopoly. For those involved with teaching PHSEE at KS3 and 4 this gane will give students a first-hand opportunity to take part in an activity directly related to issues such as financial risk as well as helping them understand how finance is used in different markets.

Curriculum Links:

KS3/4 Mathematics:
1.3 Applications and implications of mathematics understanding that mathematics is used as a tool in a wide range of contexts
1.4 Critical understanding (a. knowing that mathematics is essentially abstract and can be used to model, interpret or represent situations)
2.1 Representing (a. identify the mathematical aspects of a situation or problem) 2.2 Analysing (h. work logically towards results and solutions, recognising the impact of constraints and assumptions)

1.3 Risk (a. Understanding risk in both positive and negative terms
c. Taking risks and learning from mistakes.),
1.4 Economic understanding (b. Understanding the functions and uses of money)
2.3 Enterprise (e. use approaches to working with others, problem-solving and action planning)
2.4 Financial capability (b. understand financial risk and reward
c. explain financial terms and products)

KS3/4 Business Studies and Economics:  Business Economics (Production; Economies of Scale; Competition; Monopoly and Oligopoly; & Public and Private Sectors)
The National and Global Economy (International Trade; Exchange Rates)
The Market System (The Price System - Demand and Supply; Equilibrium Price; Elasticity of Demand)