Key Stage 4 Government & Democracy

Years 10 and 11 Consumers, Business and the Economy

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Lesson Plan

Teaching ObjectivesPossible Teaching ActivityLearning Outcomes

Pupils should have a basic understanding of:

  • the different economic and social factors that affect business
  • the difference between public and private organisations
  • the benefits of a competitive market place
  • the different forms of promotion that businesses use to sell their products and services


Begin the lesson by talking to students about the different economic and social factors that affect businesses. Also consider the different impact that Government decisions can have on UK businesses.

Look at the difference between the private and public sectors. What do the students understand by public and private sector? Discuss the different types of private business organisations that exist.

Talk to the students about how competition can affect the decisions that businesses take. Consider how competition can benefit the consumer and what protection is in place to prevent businesses collaborating to rip off consumers.

Look at how companies use marketing to help consumers make their decisions about what to purchase. Consider the existing controls on advertising and ask students to consider how adverts impact on their decisions to purchase.

  • Students will be able to recognise that there are many different factors that affect business and the economy.
  • Students will also be able to recognise the difference between public and private organisations, the importance of competition and understand the various forms of promotion that are used to help consumers make decisions


Teachers Notes

How do business decisions affect our economy?

Background Notes

Economics is basically the study of how society decides what and how it produces and while it is believed that our wants are infinite our resources are actually limited. All consumers, therefore, have to make a series of choice about what they want to buy and own.

There are many different factors that affect the economy as a whole such as:

Each Government will have a series of economic policies and they have 4 main objectives: low unemployment, low inflation, high economic growth and an equlibrium for balance of payments. By looking at these 4 factors, performance of the UK's economy can be assessed.

The Bank of England website ( contains information on the work that they do as well as monetary policy, financial markets and financial stability.

All companies are part of the economy within the UK and they are, therefore, affected by both internal and external factors. The internal factors are in the Companies' control - staffing levels, costs, etc, however external factors influence the companies' success but are outside of their control.

Suggested Teaching Activity

Further Information

The HM Treasury website ( contains details of its history as well as information about its Aims and Objectives

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What are the differences between the private and public sectors?

Background Notes

The UK is described as a mixed economy because we have both a private and a public sector.

The public sector provides goods and services to the community through public corporations, local government and other statutory agencies. There is no real profit motivation as funding comes from taxes and government borrowing.

The private sector consists of businesses that are owned by private individuals who use their ownership to achieve objectives such as income through profits.

There are different forms of business within the private sector such as:

Suggested Teaching Activity

Project Work

Ask the students to research the 4 different types of private sector business listed above. If they were going to start a business, what would be the advantages and disadvantages of each type?

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What effect does competition have on business?

Background Notes

A major influence on any business is the level of competition within a particular industry. Competition is good for consumers as it helps to regulate the prices that businesses charge for the goods and services they sell. The competition that a business faces constantly changes as new businesses join or leave the industry.

There are different levels of competition:

There is a body of law in place that seeks to counter any attempt by firms to reduce or eliminate competition. Competition is good for the consumer and there are therefore laws which prevent anti-competitive practices and which regulate any reduction in the number of businesses in competition (eg The Restrictive Trade Practices Act and the Competition Act).

Suggested Teaching Activity

Research work

Ask your students to research into competition law that is currently in force. Who enforces these laws and how are they regulated?

Tell the students to start their research by looking at the website for the Office of Fair Trading (

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What methods do business use to promote their products?

Background Information

Marketing is very important to all companies as they need to sell their products and in order for consumers to buy, they need to be aware of what exists.

Businesses will develop a corporate strategy or marketing plan that sets out exactly what they wish to achieve. In order to produce this a company may undertake market research to collect information about the market they wish to serve.


This is the main way in which businesses try to draw consumers' attention to the products that they are selling and to encourage them to buy those products.

A lot of advertising is concerned with capturing the interest of the audience rather that telling them all about the product. They may use persuading tactics such as:

There are many different types of advertising medium that a business can use and they will choose the ones that they consider to be most suitable for what they are trying to achieve:

There are controls on advertising designed to protect the consumer from untrue or indecent advertising. There are controls laid down by criminal legislation such as The Trade Descriptions Act, The Obscene Publications Act and the Children and Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act. Protection also exists in civil law through The Control of Misleading Advertisements Regulations.

The majority of businesses in the UK also adhere to the voluntary Code of Practice policed by the Advertising Standards Authority. The guiding principles of the Code of Practice is that all advertisements should be 'decent, honest, legal and truthful'.

Adverts on television and radio are controlled by the Office of Communications (OFCOM) (

The Advertising Standards Authority website contains guided tours through Advertising Control; Taste and Decency; Social Responsibility and Children and Advertising.

Suggested Teaching Activity

Project work

Ask the students to look at a range of different adverts in papers and on television. Which adverts make them want to buy the products? Is the product aimed at their age group? If not, who do they think the adverts are aimed at?

Roleplays and Worksheets

The Smart Shopper's Guide was written by Essex County Council Trading Standards and has been adapted for the Internet by Oxfordshire County Council Trading Standards Service. It contains a section on Advertising which contains teaching notes, roleplays and worksheets.

Teaching Notes and Activities

Consuming Passions ( is a FREE teaching pack designed specifically for teaching Consumer Education to Key Stage 4 students that has been developed by the National Consumer Council in conjunction with the Institute for Citizenship. It contains a wealth of useful teachers' notes and teaching activities to ensure that you can offer your students a complete consumer education package as part of the Citizenship curriculum.

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