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. The games are usually held in June and July across the Midlands, hosted by universities and similar venues.
The 2022 games were once again held in person, with teams of up to 7 students taking a particular role in the management team of the fictional Midbourne Council. The hotly contested first places were awarded to Solihull School, the Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, Alcester Grammar and de Ferrers Academy (Burton upon Trent). There is a more detailed feature below.
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. Download our leaflet to find out more.
What happens at the games?
Schools and colleges are given background information before the event. Upon arrival, each school or college forms a management team, with each student taking on a role, such as 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 and social media interactions 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!
Over the last 15 years, some 360 teams from 120 sixth forms have taken part. That's 2,500 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.
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 the games, please encourage them to contact Chris Gill or other members of the team at email@example.com
We are looking for support from members to help deliver these very successful games. As a volunteer you can choose to either mentor a team, or to assist with the roleplay and 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
The 2022 games
What happens if you plunge seven teenagers into the strategic roles of a Senior Management Team in a local council, tasking them with trying to solve a £5m budget gap whilst having to deal with mounting negative social media rumours, an unsettled workforce, a particularly angry Trade Union representative, and getting their heads around a potential council tax increase referendum?
It turns out, they rise to the challenge admirably.
The 2022 game mirrored the real challenges being faced by the public sector, touching on issues such as sustainability and the climate emergency, the impact of Covid-19, high inflation and the cost of living crisis, and how councils should support their local communities - all set in the context of increasing public expectations and the pressures on councillors not to reduce services.
Students were required to utilise a wide variety of skills, with efficient team-working being at the very core. Keeping everyone in the team to time and bringing together the individual contributions into a cohesive whole team presentation or report, is not easy under pressure.
Four games were held, two at The University of Birmingham, one at Staffordshire University and one at De Montfort University. Some 140 students from 20 different schools battled it out, with the help and support of 40 CIPFA Volunteers.
However only one team can win each game. Some results were very close indeed. Congratulations to the winning teams from Solihull School, Alcester Grammar School, Newcastle and Stafford Colleges Group, and De Ferrers Academy.
The 2021 games
The 2021 Sixth Form Games were a little different, as they were held virtually, over the software platform Remo. Their return was nonetheless welcome after the cancellation of the 2020 games due to the pandemic. They demonstrated the ability to deliver these and similar games virtually.
108 students from 18 sixth forms took part, across three games, enabled by the coordinating team and some 36 volunteers. CIPFA has received incredibly positive feedback. Volunteer Ian Chafer, Senior Trainer at CIPFA Training and Education Centre (CETC), commented:
"It was a very interesting and enjoyable day. All the schools and volunteers were able to take something positive, and for me there was a chance to chat to a few of our recent and current students who were acting as enablers/helpers."
Teachers were quick to offer encouragement:
"Thank you very much for another very well organised and productive day that I know, despite the technical issues at our end, our students gained a great deal from."
"The students are still talking about it — it has really made other students in the class and sixth form wish they had been a part of it."
Students rated the event 4.46 out of 5. All students reported gaining insight into the issues facing the public sector. Things learnt or improved included teamwork, time management, real life factors influencing businesses, that difficult decisions have to be made, budgeting and the issues councils face, the role of advisory boards, that you can't always keep everyone happy, and the type of opportunities offered by an accountancy career.
In November 2021, the CIPFA Midlands Region was proud to receive the Regional Innovation of the Year award for the virtual games!