Waimea College values the engagement, the differentiation and the rich content in Banqer

Waimea College is one of the South Island’s largest secondary schools with approximately 1600 students. In Year 10 the Commerce Department offers two half year courses, Economics and Accounting, and students select one or both. Banqer has been successfully integrated, effortlessly embedding Financial Literacy into the curriculum.

Complementing the Curriculum

Ninety students are enrolled on the three-hour a week Accounting course. Head of Business and Information Systems Yvonne Daly and her team introduced Banqer at the start of term one, “Staff weren’t intimidated at all. Banqer complements exactly what we are covering in the classroom, and lesson plans and ideas are provided with the programme.” Yvonne played with the ‘practice student’ for each expansion prior to releasing it to the students, “The students can use Banqer independently for sure, but I think teacher ownership is important. I don’t go into it blind because I want to enthuse my students, and Banqer makes this really easy for teachers.”

One hour a week was initially dedicated to Banqer, later reduced to thirty minutes as the levels of engagement escalated and students began to access Banqer autonomously, “But I still allow time in class to play the app so that I can listen to the students and explore the topics with them.”

Engagement for All

Prior to Banqer, the Accounting course’s Financial Literacy programme used a classroom-based simulation. Students got paid in paper money, rented or bought their own desks, survived natural disasters, or didn’t if they hadn’t bought insurance. The simulation was very popular with the students, but Banqer has added a new dimension.

Yvonne identifies several benefits of Banqer over the paper- based format, “I used to love doing the simulation, but it does depend on the level of energy that you as a teacher bring to the scenarios. Yes, I could get the students cowering under their chairs when I initiated an earthquake but that was me on that day. Banqer consistently fosters high levels of engagement across all students.”

From the very first day there was this buzz in the classroom. It was fantastic. Students were begging for the next Banqer lesson.

Yvonne believes Banqer has captivated the students because of the instant feedback as they work through the programme, “There are very clear and immediate consequences to every decision that they make. The boys in particular seem to enjoy the competitive nature of the programme.” The interactivity has also gripped the students, “They love that they are playing with each other, for example flatting together.”

Banqer also keeps all the students engaged no matter their level of ability, something that can be hard to achieve with teacher-led approaches, “It allows for independent learning and is completely self-pacing. My high achievers can just keep going, moving onto other expansions, whilst my less confident students can play at their own pace and don’t lose out.”

Yvonne has also received feedback from students that they appreciate the six different ways in which they are ranked, “Some students may excel in one area such as KiwiSaver, whilst others might excel at Net Worth. This means that it isn’t always the same students, which can be so demotivating to some.”

Depth & Breadth of Learning

All of the teachers involved value the depth and breadth of the resources in Banqer, from skills such as writing a CV or budgeting, to genuine life lessons. Yvonne cites a discussion on living away from home as being one of the most illuminating, “The students were genuinely surprised by how much it cost.” There have also been valuable conversations around career choices, “They were amazed by the impact on your finances of taking out a big loan to study, versus going straight into a primary industry after school, for example. This motivates some of those students who aren’t destined for further study and reminds us as teachers that there are other pathways.” She adds laughing, “Banqer is also a good reminder for some that checking in for work every day does have its benefits, such as getting paid and being promoted!”

All About Communication

Waimea College and Yvonne’s team recognise that teaching is all about making connections with the students and Banqer achieves this, “Anything that the kids find fun and enjoy doing helps build positive relationships. That is the beauty of this programme, they want to come to class, they want to engage.”

One student flying to Christchurch for the day even checked in. Imagine that? Checking into Accounting class on a day off school!