Responding to COVID-19: insight, support and guidance

Sixth Form Management Games

A stimulating and fun environment for post-16 students (years 12 and 13) to sample the scope, complexity and impact of financial management in the public sector

The management games are intended to help fill a gap in business studies courses, which concentrate on commercial activities and often do not cover the public sector. They are usually held in June and July across the midlands, hosted by universities and similar venues. The June 2021 games were held online. The winning teams were from Lordswood Sixth Form Centre (Birmingham), Longley Park Sixth Form (Sheffield) and Bishop Walsh Catholic School (Sutton Coldfield).

Over the last 15 years, some 300 teams from 100 sixth forms have taken part. That's 2,100 sixth form students we have been able to provide with a taste of financial management in the public sector, together with the pressures (and joys!) that inevitably brings! Hopefully, participating students will have developed their own skills and their ability to work in teams through the games. Others, we know, have uncovered fresh career opportunities as they have learnt more about themselves, how they work, what makes them tick and where their real interests lie.

Each game takes a full day and is an excellent introduction to the world of work and a way of developing and strengthening teamwork, leadership, management and organisational skills.

To learn more, please see the 2019 brochure.

What happens at the games?

Schools/colleges are given background information before the event. Upon arrival, each school/college forms a management team, with each student taking on a role, eg chief executive, director of finance, director of housing. They are provided with further information relevant to their portfolio and the management team is set an initial task – for example, to produce a draft report by lunchtime.

As life is not always straightforward, interruptions are thrown in and each team has to decide how to handle these while completing the main task. After lunch, the teams receive a 'bombshell' and must revise their plans, with further interruptions to add that extra sense of reality. Finally, they usually deliver a presentation on their decisions and recommendations. The teams usually beaver away with great enthusiasm!

How to take part

If you have links with a midlands school or college with post-16 students which may be interested in taking part in future games, please encourage them to contact Chris Gill or Kelly Watson:

We are looking for support from members to help deliver these very successful games. As a volunteer you can choose from a variety of roles on the day, from mentoring a team, assisting with the roleplay, to lending a hand with marking. Lunch will be provided and travel expenses are offered, if not picked up by your own employer. You'll be assured of a warm welcome whether you are a student, a retired member or anywhere in-between! Please contact for more information.

The 2019 games

The 2020 games were cancelled due to the pandemic

Sixth Form students from across the midlands met at four universities during June 2019, to take part in a management team game that saw them acting out the roles of the management team in the fictional Lyechester Borough Council.

Bishop Walsh 2019In a full day, the management teams faced a visit from their local MP, an angry trade union official, and a call from the press responding to rumours of their intended plans. This all while trying to maintain the day job of achieving a balanced budget, with significant spending cuts required to continue to provide and develop the council's services with the funds available.

The students took to their task with considerable focus and commitment, and for most of the day there was a palpable a buzz around the rooms. All the students were a great credit to the organisations they represented, putting in a considerable amount of effort.

Many of the students enjoyed their day experiencing public sector finance, and a number reflected on what had they had learnt in their feedback. One student commented on how during the day he had learnt how to communicate more effectively in the group, and that the best part of the day had been being able to contribute into discussing ideas for planning decisions for the council.

A student from one of the other teams said: "I have a deeper insight of what the public sector is like and I now understand what I may like to do in the future".

Bishop Walsh 2019Students and qualified CIPFA accountants were on hand to guide the sixth form students and were impressed to see their confidence under significant pressure throughout the day.

Chris Gill, the lead organiser, said: "The CIPFA management game is an excellent experience for local students to understand the way our public finances are managed and the difficulties our finance teams have in choosing between competing and often equally important priorities. The students involved were very focused on undertaking the tasks in hand; they remained engaged 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 services, and perhaps some of these young people are the public sector finance directors of the future."

Congratulations to the winning teams, and well done to all who took part! The winners were the Ashby School, Chosen Hill School, John Taylor High School and Bishop Walsh Catholic School (pictured).

CIPFA in the Midlands would like to once again thank the universities that offered their facilities – including Worcester, Birmingham, Leicester DeMontfort and Staffordshire – and the members and students who volunteered.