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BGS Economists make their mark

Sixth-form Economics students at Bristol Grammar School have recently been Highly Commended in two very different economics competitions – the Financial Times CORE Schools' Economics Challenge and at the Bristol Festival of Economics.

The CORE Schools’ Economics Challenge

During the Autumn term of 2019, five Bristol Grammar School Sixth-formers entered the Financial Times’ Economics Competition on climate change which required them to make a short video answering the question “Why is addressing climate change so difficult?”

After discussing climate change and what it really is as a group, they decided to break the question into sections addressing the impact on different groups in society from individuals to firms to governments. This helped give the video structure, order and clarity so the question could be addressed fully. They then allocated the sections between themselves, carrying out independent research and linking their findings to economic theory and real world examples. During their research they learnt facts and figures about climate change, many of which were very alarming.

Research completed, the next step was to write the script for the video. This took some time and fine tuning however, once it was all completed, the group began the process of filming. Laura, Lucy, Issy and Cara each presented their findings. After the filming, Tom edited the video, adding music to the pictures and videos. Once the video was completed it was submitted to the Financial Times to be judged. The group were really proud of the finished product and pleased with their efforts and delighted to be highly commended by the judges. Congratulations to them all.

Bristol Festival of Economics

A Level economists and IB students from the Lower-sixth at BGS had the opportunity to attend the Festival of Economics and Schools’ Challenge at We The Curious on 22 November. The event was organised by Bristol University, collaborating with Triodos Bank, ESRC and The Bank of England.

The morning consisted of an auction game and a panel discussion with three economists from various government departments and two current Bristol University Economics students.

In the auction game, teams of five or six each started with a notional £2,500. Bidding against each other for imaginary food items, they had to put together a menu they could sell at a fixed price. The teams had to assess their opponents’ actions and, by restricting their own spending, the BGS team discovered a winning strategy.

After a short lunch break for pizza and a chance to talk to economists and representatives from the Bank of England who were attending, the afternoon challenge began. This was particularly tricky, with teams being given only one hour to try to produce a new model to measure progress, other than GDP. This was hard not just because of the time constraint but also because they were given no definition for ‘progress’ so were really on their own. The teams were told to keep in mind:

  • What indicators they would use for their model and why?
  • How was the model different to one that tracked GDP?
  • How might the model help policy makers with decision making in the future?

Across all the groups that took part in the competition some really interesting and topical ideas were presented, focusing on social issues, from safety, social mobility to health.

The BGS team created the Consumer Choices Index, using the number of choices a consumer can make, the cost of those choices and the impact of the consumer’s choice on their local environment. They hoped that this model would help policy makers have a better idea of the impact of decisions as well as long term sustainability. The team were delighted to came away being highly commended and encouraged to pursue their ideas further, as well as having gained an insight into the future economics, as a study or a career, could offer.