Running the British Economy (1984)

In 1984 the College, with 1200 other schools, entered the Hewlett Packard competition Running the British Economy. Following a regional heat at Essex University, the College team and their mentor David Wigney went on to the final in Edinburgh - and won.  Here the team members, with David and the Warden, are unpacking their HP prizes.  Left to right we have Gregory Fade, Christopher Allen, Tracy Dyke, Simon Scott, Mr Wigney, Warden, Amanda Carey.

These photos show the arrival of the equipment and the Regional/National certificates:

Simon Scott relates:

The computer was an HP touch screen, state-of-the-art PC, that was never used by school pupils.  Rumour has it, that the PC remained in the Warden's office gathering dust as he never managed to fathom it, although Mr Freeburn (Maths & IT) was allowed to look at it.  It should be remembered that in 1984 the school didn't have PCs and all computing was done via punch-cards and the off-site VAX in Norwich (as my poor memory serves).   Each pupil received a hand-held HP11c programmable calculator which utilised Reverse Polish Logic calculations (i.e there's no "=" button") - we were not allowed to use them for our A-levels as they were programmable and had a number of mathematical equations on the back.

Mr Wigney masterminded the victory with his balance-budget multiplier theory: Don't spend now and pay later as only the banks will win.  True then as it is now and it worked like a charm.  Mr Wigney based his whole syllabus teaching on what he called the "Economic Parrot".  All the Economic Parrot could do was repeat the phrase "Supply and Demand" ad nauseum.  In answering any A-level question, all that was required was that you broke the question down to its constituent elements and then used the the basics of supply and demand to provide an answer.  Brilliant in its simplicity and again it worked like a charm - no need to revise facts and figures, just apply that simple theory.

The win in the Running the British Economy competition was very timely as closure of Wymondham College was being considered by the Norfolk Education Committee headed by Mrs Gillian Shepherd.  Indeed, Christopher Allen, myself, Juliette Hannah, Simon Hall and Alison Webster (I believe) were part of a "Save the School" pupil deposition invited to meet the Committee to express our case.  One argument we used was that Wymondham College served a particular catchment area - Mrs Shepherd covered herself in glory by stating that she used to cycle 11 miles to school every day - we failed to point out that the pre-war traffic was a tad lighter than that found in 1984 and indeed, the A11 might not have been so dangerous.

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