‘Second place: Peter Symonds College!’
We couldn't believe it. The nailed-on favourites of the competition, the undisputed champions of the South, finally ousted. Our hearts were in our mouths. Was it possible? Would PGS finally take the crown?
We might not have made the top two, but there were plenty of positives to take from participating in the 2015 Target 2.0 competition. The day began with an extended Taylor Swift session to get us in the zone, as we departed school at 8:30. Once our collective heads were well and truly in the game, the Oxbridge economics interview practice began, lasting the duration of the journey. I took the initiative to provide questions and, despite being under the cosh for the best part of an hour, interviewee Alex McKirgan was articulate and opinionated in his response. Whilst the journey on the whole was productive, we were disappointed not to find a girl in Year 12 for Nick Gatenby.
Upon arriving at the surprisingly suave Holiday Inn, we were greeted by a representative of the Bank of England, who offered us free coffee and brownies. Although this gesture was a sentimental one, it proved to be fairly pointless as we were instantly made to enter the conference room, where food and drink was forbidden. During the morning session we were treated to presentations from three teams, each of which displayed a range of data and argued for their monetary decision. However, it was Peter Symonds College who stood out; living up to the recent hype, their presentation was factual and concise. Further, they were the first to participate - considering that all teams in this session were fairly standard with their presentation, the novelty of Target 2.0 had started to wear off after act number one. However, the third team certainly rejuvenated the interest of spectators, managing to add some humour by misstating the first equation everyone learns in AS Economics as AD = C + I + G…
Prior to a break for lunch, our team was excused from the William Perkins school presentation so that we could prepare for our own. A few stumbles and a minor breakdown from a member of the team were telltale signs that nerves were lingering. However, by the end of the practice session the team was as prepared as it would ever be, and confidence was vastly improving.
Our lunchtime was spent constructively, as we prepared ourselves for the vital moment. Shoutout to the hotel staff, who provided us with some quality pastry to satisfy our appetites. The main benefit of lunch however was the window it provided for pump-up music; after a few repeats of Lose Yourself and Run This Town, we knew we were ready to step up. Manager M. Worley enforced that the team should be confident, and that she had faith. Having forgotten my pom-poms and failed in my role as monetary mascot, I decided to intervene with a speech of my own:
‘Lads, I have full belief in your ability. You’re well drilled, in peak physical condition and I back you to go as far as you want to go in this competition. However, I realise that this is not always in our hands. So I want you to remember one thing. Whether we win or lose, Economics will always be the real winner.’ - Ollie Wratten Target 2.0 speech, 2015.
The squad was fired up, and on that note entered the conference room and took their positions. True to my predictions, the presentation was on point. Every team member delivered a smooth speech, and answered questions intelligently. Our Sky Sports intro-esque GIFs were popular, as was Rory Bishop’s more light-hearted primary study of banana imports into Portsmouth. However, the highlight was definitely a moment of inspiration from Adam Blunden. When the team came under heavy fire in terms of questioning from the panel, Adam whipped out the Harrod-Domar model, which Frank Xu then relayed to the judges in his response. It was utter filth, and the panel was clearly impressed with this beautiful slice of Rees-enomics.
On a high after a stellar performance, the team headed into the bar for a 45 minute break before results were announced. Although we were slightly disappointed that Mrs Worley didn't buy us all a pint, fresh coffee and brownies acted as a decent substitute. Frank was obviously in good spirits, as reflected by his rendition of the rap in ‘Baby’. Also during the break, we were surprised to learn that a member of the panel was actually an OP. Despite initial jubilation at the prospect of bias, it transpired that this was not going to happen. This particular panel member was seen leaving early and, although we were told that he had to travel home early to avoid traffic, rumour quickly circulated that his affiliation had been discovered. Our prospects looked bleak.
When Peter Symonds College were announced as runners up, there was instant optimism amongst the group. As there had been no other real standout competitors, there was a genuine sense that we had it in the bag. However, we were hit with an RKO outta nowhere. William Perkins school, the one team we had not seen present, were announced as winners - leaving us completely deflated. Although we were proud of competing with both passion and integrity, this did not prevent a sour aftermath. Mrs Worley tried her best to look on the bright side, but the squad was left devastated by captain Blunden’s resignation the moment we missed out on qualification for the next round:
‘Thank you for your kindness, friends. Friends, this is not the speech I wanted to give today because I believe that the area finals needed a PGS contingent. I still do, but the judges voted otherwise this afternoon. Earlier today I rang Sir William Perkins' to congratulate them. I take absolute and total responsibility for the result and our performance at this heat.
Friends: PGS needs a strong Target 2.0 team. PGS needs a team that can rebuild after this defeat so we can have a contingent that stands up for Hampshire's sixth formers again. Now it’s time for someone else to take forward the leadership of this team, so I’m tendering my resignation taking part after this afternoon’s minibus journey. I want to do so straight away because Mrs Worley needs to have an open and honest debate about the right way forward without constraint (even if she has picked next year's chair already).
Finally, I want to say something to my team. Thank you to you. Thank you for the privilege. I joined this team aged only 17. I never dreamed I would lead it.
We've all achieved so much throughout this process, from Rory's bananas to Alex's defiance of the output gap, from Frank's impeccable speech to my Harrod-Domar model. You all have so much to be proud of. Thank you’.
- Adam Blunden Target 2.0 speech, 2015
Our one consolation was receiving the self allocated Banton du Becke award for the presentation with the most banter, which was an achievement in itself. Despite coming away with no official prizes, the Target 2.0 competition allowed us to learn a lot about monetary policy. It was not only of use to our economics studies, but also built largely upon our organisation and teamwork skills. It is fun to take part in, and I speak on behalf of the whole squad when I recommend it to anyone wishing to study economics in sixth form or beyond.