On 28 March, a team of four Oundle School pupils and budding economists, Oli Wood (17, captain), Malayandi Palaniappan (19), Juliette Aliker (18) and Freddie Martin (18), won the National Finals of the ‘Bank of England Target 2.0 Challenge’. Their journey to victory began with them winning the Regional Heats back in December 2013, followed by Area Finals in February 2014.
Out of a very strong original field of 287 schools, six teams took part in the National Finals. The challenge, co-sponsored by The Times, was for the teams to assume the role of the Threadneedle Street’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) and propose a combination of Bank Rate, Quantitative Easing and Forward Guidance that would sustain growth while hitting the official inflation target of 2.0%. Pupils were tested through a 20-minute presentation and 20 minute Q&A session.
The chief economist of the Bank of England said that he would sleep well knowing there were so many budding economists, as Oundle School was named the 14th winner of the bank’s annual rate-setting Target 2.0 competition.
Deep in the bowels of the central bank, in a conference room used by the Governor for press conferences, the six teams of A-level pupils were questioned by three members of the MPC – Paul Fisher, Spencer Dale, Ian McCafferty – and Hugh Pym, the BBC’s chief economics correspondent. Mr Dale said that he was thrilled to “see people who are so smart, thoughtful and committed” and who had “really challenged what the MPC is doing to the MPC’s face… They wanted to enhance the way we conduct forward guidance by essentially revealing each individual MPC members’ interest rate forecasts.”
Head of Economics at Oundle, Mo Tanweer, commented: “I am extremely proud of the Oundelians who worked incredibly hard from September all the way up until the final day, constantly making improvements, edits, and refinements in their research and analysis. It was a delight to work with a group of pupils who showed so much passion, desire and sheer enthusiasm for this competition. Their final performance was flawless and the way they handled the MPC’s questions and grilling was nothing short of brilliant. They answered with a confidence and knowledge that impressed everyone and showed why, as a group, they were the best team I have ever had the pleasure of working with.
“Fellow peers and teachers in the competition all commented how impressed they were with the Oundelians’ delivery and execution. They were up against some stiff competition, but fully deserved to win the top prize. They now have summer internships at the Bank of England to look forward to as their reward – of which I am very envious!’
As part of the experience, the pupils enjoyed a couple of days at the Bank, which included guided tours about the history of the Bank, seeing the gold vaults and holding a gold bar and talking to senior Monetary Policy Committee members.
Captain Oli Wood commented: “We had to undertake economic research and analysis by examining current economic conditions, and assessing the outlook for the economy and inflation. We then had to present our findings to a panel of judges in competition with the other finalists and make a monetary policy recommendation with supporting arguments and evidence to achieve the Government’s inflation target of 2.0%.
“It felt amazing to win as we had been working on the presentation for several months, with a very hectic couple of days before updating all of the data and statistics on the slides. It has given all of the team a much greater understanding of the current state of the UK economy and will definitely help us in our A-level studies.”
Juliette Aliker said: “It is a daunting task as the members of the MPC sometimes sit there with a blank face and you know they know everything you are talking about.”
The prize for the winning team was a four-week summer internship at the Bank and a £10,000 donation to the school.
Ilford County High School, in East London, and Bishop Wordsworth’s School, in Wiltshire, were runners-up. The other finalists were Central Newcastle High School in Tyne and Wear, The Grammar School at Leeds and Watford Grammar School for Girls.