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Oxbridge Success History at Woodhouse
Woodhouse College
Oxbridge Success History at Woodhouse

My Woodhouse Accounting

Lewis  Dunn
Lewis Dunn
Lewis Dunn came to Woodhouse from Winchmore School and lives in Palmers Green. He studied  accounting, business and geography at A level and graduated in 2018 with ABC. He is currently completing an AAT apprenticeship at Grant Thornton (the 5th largest accountancy firm in the world) on his way to becoming a chartered accountant.
He spoke to us during his second year of A levels...
“I chose to study accounting because I wanted to learn more about how the financial management of a business works and how it creates its financial records. I want to study business and accounting at university and hope to become a chartered accountant.
My class is fairly small, around thirteen of us, and the teaching is quite relaxed because learning accounting is about repetition… a lot of repetition.
A typical lesson might involve going over a particular accounting theory to start with, followed by some aided questions. After that we just dive in the deep end and start going into past paper questions, look at the mark scheme, see where you went wrong, start again, look back at your mistakes, do it again and get it right – and then do it again. Once you understand the theory side of it you just practice until you can’t get it wrong.
You need to be determined and have perseverance, because you will get it wrong sometimes. You’ll look at a question and read it over 50 times and maybe still not get it and then on the 51st time you’ll look at it and go ‘Oooh, now I see what they want’.
We don’t really use software or computers – it’s quite old school – we do a lot of work using just a pen and paper.
You need a good foundation in mathematics – reverse percentages, percentages, mark-up, margin – but you’ll have a calculator in your hand and the good thing is you can always double check – if your mark-up is 20% you can work backwards.
We often work in teams in our class. If we are working on a balance sheet then we’ll get together and dissect all the additional information and work out what we need to actually do to create the sheet and make sure it’s objective and represents the business accurately.
I’ve been on quite a few trips with the subject. We went to M & G Investment group – really nice offices ­– and they spoke about apprenticeships and what’s involved in financial services, that was really good. We also visited the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales where we learnt about the ACA (Association of Chartered Accountants) and the AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) and how you become a chartered accountant. They had a guest panel of four people who spoke about their careers how they went from college to becoming a chartered accountant.
I also went to EY Discover open day, where they talked about their schemes, their business and what’s involved in accounting and audit.
We had an apprenticeships fair, where I got to talk to people from KPMG who spoke about how accounting is so diverse and that you can learn a lot of other skills like team work and communications.
I took part in a young enterprise competition at Woodhouse last year. 25 students come together and have to fund and create a business that’s licensed. We had to think of a product to sell, do market research, marketing and work out a pricing strategy. We sold at Spitalfields Market, which was an amazing experience, and sold speakers and stress balls whilst encompassing the theme of ‘take a minute to relax during exam pressure and listen to some music’. – Sales could have been better... we had to reduce our prices as there were a lot of people our age there that weren’t really looking to spend £15 on speakers so we had to drop it down to £7.50. But it had real life applications from business theory we’d studied – the elasticity of demand (if we decrease the price then demand will increase).
I’ve been part of the Career Ready program at Woodhouse which is like a business academy. I had to complete an application about why I wanted to do it and how I thought it would benefit me. It’s a lot of commitment, you’re not just signing up for a couple of weeks, it lasts from December to December – 12 months of working late and developing your brand, your CV and your interview skills.
We take part in lots of workshops and hear guest speakers. We had a talk from a hedge fund manager and I’ve been to network events where I got to talk to the head of HR at BKL and a senior executive of restructuring at EY. I’ve got my own mentor, Jake, a business consultant for 35 years. I see him as a formal friend that I can talk to about anything at all, and he provides me with guidance – sometime the littlest things like what to wear for an event, looking over my CV personal statement or balancing my time management. He’s been very and helpful I see him about once a month. I really enjoy our meetings, especially getting out of the college environment and into a business one.
I’ve also had an internship. I worked at BKL Chartered Accountants in North Finchley. My role was that of a tax compliance intern and I got a foundation knowledge of what’s involved in personal tax and I assisted in producing P11D’s tax returns. (Form P11D (Expenses and Benefits) is a tax form filed by United Kingdom employers for each director and for each employee earning over £8500 per year, and sent to the tax office with which their PAYE scheme is registered.)
I went from tax compliance to internal accounts, audit and then HR for a couple of days, so it was a varied role. I worked there for five weeks from 9-5 which took quite a toll on me, but I got paid too. Career Ready helped me set up the internship but I also used my initiative – I knew the head of HR from our networking event.
I’m applying to do international business with a lot of accounting modules at Loughborough University, Warwick, Birmingham, Nottingham and LSE. Loughborough is my first choice – my sister went and I’m following in her footsteps. They also have a lot of sports there and I like the feel of the campus.
My dad taught me the importance of business management and I’ve grown up watching TV shows like The Apprentice and Dragons Den. They are not quite real business, but they’ve made me wonder how I would present a business idea and cope. Even in year 5 I took part in a business-related activity – making and selling pizza – and I remember being really keen to make ours better and different to everyone else’s. At GCSE I was always looking at competing in things and even got to the finals in the National Enterprise Competition. I ended up actually having to present my idea to Theo from Dragons Den.
If I decide not to go to university, it’ll be because I’ll do an apprenticeship with a chartered accountant. I’ll be a paid AET apprentice and learn the basics of accounting and work my way up. After that I’ll do my ACA – which is the same thing that graduates do – which takes about three years to become chartered.
I’ve been working at Waitrose for about year, so have to balance part-time employment with my demanding college work. But I can transfer skills between both – organisation, presentation, communication with customers, relating my managers to my teachers and understanding how a business operates.
I really enjoy the independence at Woodhouse, I can tailor my days and revise when I want to. Everyone here is really friendly and caring. The teachers treat you like adults – if you don’t do the work they might not chase you to do it, but they’ll let you know how it will impact on your studies. I think I behave a lot more professionally now and my communication skills have improved. A combination of Career Ready, Woodhouse and Waitrose has helped me mature a lot.”
We also caught up with Lewis after he left us. He said...
"My Woodhouse experience has transformed me into a professional and independent learner who is eager to learn and try new things. It has been the perfect bridge to full time employment and I'm sure higher education, with enough support and independence to help you grow from a teenager to a young adult."