What is Accounting?

Accounting is the language of business. With the use of Accounting, one can tell the story of a business to an audience (role players).

As trade developed in the world, so too did the need to have some means of payment for goods, other than bartering one commodity for another.  Something of value was needed as a means of exchange = money! In these early days, Accounting developed because there was a need to keep a record of transactions entered into between people.  More recently, it has developed to a high degree of sophistication in determining the efficiency and value of complex companies.

Accounting is relevant to our everyday activities, as we all use money to purchase goods and services.  We all need a budget and we all need to understand our own personal finances. You may reason that the computer normally handles the recording processes for you, but in order to understand what the computer is doing, it is necessary to perform the processes manually first.

Curriculum Outline
There is considerable overlap and continuity between the grades, and work covered in the lower grades is incorporated into, and assessed throughout, the course.

Pupils who are considering taking Accounting as a subject must begin with the course at the beginning of Grade 10. Pupils will not be allowed to start Accounting at a later stage due to the ‘building blocks’ nature of the subject.

In Grade 10 we address and answer some of the following concepts and questions:
How do you measure and determine the performance of a business?
What is the difference between formal and informal bookkeeping systems?
How do I record cash and credit transactions?
Why is there a need for VAT?
Why is computerised accounting important?
Why is there a big difference between what my employer told me I am going to earn, and what I am actually paid?
Understanding and preparing of basic financial statements.
Managerial Accounting, which includes cost calculations of manufacturing businesses and basic budgeting concepts.
Internal control and ethics.

In Grade 11 we address and answer some of the following concepts and questions:
Is my bank statement telling the truth?
Do I make a profit or a loss when I get rid of my old car? Asset disposal.
If I open my own small business, should I make use of the periodic inventory system?
What if my best friend and I want to start a business together? Partnerships.
How does a budget assist me in making sure I have enough money when I need it?
How do I record the unfinished products of my factory?
If I am the treasurer of my tennis club, what is expected of me?

In Grade 12 we address and answer some of the following concepts and questions:
Do I understand how a company operates?  What are shares and dividends?
How can I use my cash budget to the business’s benefit?
Do my debtors pay me on time?
How much is my stock worth and which valuation method is the best for my business?
My business is making a profit but is it worthwhile, or should I investigate another investment?

Skills taught in Accounting
Lifelong learning is an integral part of growing, not only professionally but also personally.  In the September 2010 edition of the magazine Entrepreneur, in a special feature on learning, Leigh Swartz, director at Tuesday Consulting, said: “In an employment market in which a degree is considered an absolute basic, additional courses and skills can provide an important differentiator, and a track record of proactively pursuing on-going education shows both a curiosity for learning new things and a willingness to make a personal investment in self-improvement.” It is a well-known fact that, in most cases, the standard of living maintained by an individual is linked to the level of their education.

This is why the cornerstones that teachers provide during a learner’s schooling are key in facilitating the creation of responsible and active members of society. Studying Accounting teaches your daughter life skills, for example:

Learning how to think clearly and logically in order to make the correct financial decisions;
Self-discipline - if you do not handle your money in a disciplined manner your financial position could deteriorate and you could end up bankrupt;
Accuracy - if you are not accurate in, for example, determining cost prices, you are going to make a loss in your business;
Learning to be analytical - you have to analyse your results to make decisions regarding the future of your own finance;
Communication skills;
Role play;
Numerical skills;
Peer assessment;

Practicals, assignments and projects
Grade 10:
Pastel Grade 10
Effective use of Microsoft Excel by completing journals, ledgers and an asset register.

Grade 11:
Pastel Grade 11
A debate on various current topics, for example the influence trade unions have on the manufacturing sector.

Grade 12:
Pastel Grade 12
A case study that requires the analysis and interpretation of a Public Company’s financial statements.
Assessment and Examinations
Tests and examinations are set with the aim of evaluating insight, encouraging expression of opinions by pupils, and requiring analysis and interpretation of information.  The underlying aim is to assist all pupils to achieve their maximum potential, by providing a challenge to pupils at all levels of ability.

The pupils write two papers in the Accounting examination. Paper I focuses on the application of skills and Paper II focuses on problem-solving and analysis. The end-of-year examinations contribute 75% of the year mark.

Many of the Accounting activities are assessed by means of a portfolio or collection of work, for example: projects, presentations, simulations, case studies and debates. The portfolio constitutes 25% of the year mark.

Enrichment and Special Events
Virtually no bookkeeping process is done by hand these days, therefore it is important to be able to make use of an Accounting computer package. The pupils are familiarised with the Pastel School Package in Grades 10, 11 and 12. Pastel issues a certificate to those candidates who passed the examination with merit.

The Grade 11 and 12 girls can participate in the JSE /Liberty Life Investment Challenge in the Bulls and Bears Club, which runs every second Wednesday.

We often invite guest speakers to come and address the girls on relevant Accounting topics, for example, St Mary’s DSG Old Girl, Danielle Botha (née le Roux) who is a lawyer by profession, talked to all the Grade 11s and 12s about personal finance – a skill she found lacking with newly graduated students entering her firm.
Career Paths and Opportunities

  • Chartered Accountant
  • Agricultural Economist
  • Business Economist
  • Investment Analyst
  • Legal Advisor
  • Industrial Psychologist
  • Tax Consultant
  • Risk analyst
  • Financial Accountant
  • Banker
  • Business Manager
  • Internal Auditor
  • Marketing Manager
  • Sports/ Recreation Manager
  • Tourism / Hotel Manager
  • Actuary
  • Financial Manager
  • Econometrician
  • Information Manager / Programmer / System Analyst
  • Personnel Manager
  • Statistician
  • Trader

If you intend to follow any B Com university course, it is in your own interest to have Accounting as a subject.  The failure rate for first year students without Accounting is exceptionally high. This learning area introduces many practical aspects of finances.  Even if you study a very different course, for instance medicine, you still need to be able to handle and understand your finances.

In May 2013, the Manpower Group released its eighth annual Talent Shortage Survey on the top 10 jobs that are the hardest for employers to fill, and for the third year in a row, “Accounting and Finance” made the list. The reason is that no longer can any business afford not to have proper financial management. The profession and the subject can no longer be considered just for ‘bean counters’. The reality is that the majority of accountants work in a business environment, which requires them to handle a broad range of responsibilities beyond taxes, including financial planning, analysis, forecasting, internal controls and decision support. They are expected to be trusted advisors who can interpret the numbers to direct corporate strategy.

Accountants do not just speak the language of business – they are business.

Date: Monday, 23 May 2016 14:15