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On Wednesday, sixth form students from Birmingham and the surrounding area were given the opportunity to manage a council for the day.
Playing the roles of the management team, the students were put in charge of a fictitious local authority, Emmstone Borough Council. The game is a Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) team management exercise and is one of six taking place throughout the Midlands this summer.
The winning team came from Kingsley College in Redditch after a very close contest. Other participating schools were Bishop Walsh Catholic School from Birmingham, King Edward VI School in Lichfield, George Dixon Academy from Birmingham and Bournville School and Sixth Form Centre in Birmingham.
The all-day event was hosted at the Business School of Birmingham University in Edgbaston and throughout the day management teams had to content with representations from their local MP, an angry Trade Union Official and inquisitive reporters from the local press. If this was not enough of a challenge, they had to achieve a balanced budget, with significant cuts required, whilst still continuing to provide services with reduced levels of funding.
Commenting on the day, one student from the winning team said,
“The activities introduced us well to the Public Sector as it forced us to look at the wider picture and the impact of our decisions. I am already considering a career in the Public Sector and this has justified many of my reasons for wanting a career in this sector”
Another member of Kingsley College’s team highlighted the value of the game,
“A career in business interests me and this has been a valuable experience for my future”
Other students commented on how the game had challenged them whilst being enjoyable at the same time.
CIPFA volunteers who work in local public services were on hand to guide the students and were very impressed by the composure of the sixth formers under significant pressure and the standard of work that they produced throughout the day.
Chris Gill, the lead volunteer said:
“This CIPFA management game is a brilliant opportunity for local students to understand the way our public finances are managed and the difficulties our finance teams have in making choices between competing and often equally important priorities. The students involved today really threw themselves in to the game; they remained engaged throughout and hopefully will have taken much away from the game that will be useful for their future careers and general development. This country needs the best managers to be running our local authorities and other public sector organisations and perhaps some of these young people are the public sector finance directors of the future.”
The game, devised and run by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), is intended to help fill a gap in Business Studies courses, which tend to concentrate on commercial activities and often do not cover the public sector in any way.