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Police line do not cross - a new approach to improving the context marks in business essays

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

I was marking some lower sixth essays this week and wondering if there is a new way to approach the old dilemma of how to persuade students to stay in context and keep their arguments applied to the case study material. Here are a few of the methods I have tried over the years:

1. I tried....Get out of my pub! I have banned words and phrases which I consider to encourage generic writing. So banned are; the business, they, their, them, the product, he and she are also barred from the pub. Please feel free to change pub for restaurant or café depending on your school or college.

2. I tried... the Tesco test. If a business essay can substitute the word Tesco for the name of the business in the essay, then they are not in context.

3. I Tried.... Get out of your own essay. Students at the start of the course like to put themselves and me into their essays: “You can buy these products at Tesco or Sainsbury’s”. Me? No, I am at home with my cats. Also excluded and expelled are my top3 offenders; I think, I feel and I believe. All dismissed and forbidden. Instead, I prefer “It’s clear to see from the case study that…” which works as a superb substitute.

So here I am doing the marking and looking for new and exciting ways to get context from these new students. I am tempted by the shiny apple of what works, but also keen to try something new. Then as I was thinking about a TV cop show I realized that they are always rejecting hearsay because it will not “stand up in court” instead real evidence is needed.

So Police Line Do not Cross is my new twist on the old idea of encouraging context through quotes. Students will be asked to use quotes from the case study to make their opinions, ideas and arguments, stand up in court.

Sarah is a business teacher trainer; she has taught business for 23 years and has been a business examiner for over 20 years. If you would like to book a staff CPD session or exam revision session for students (via Zoom) please email:

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