Making money lessons add up U

nderstanding money and money matters is acknowledged as being an essential

skill for young people, yet in practice, too many children are not receiving the grounding they need. Guy Rigden, MyBnk CEO, discusses how a coalition of UK charities is helping teachers provide a meaningful financial education.

Every year, at exactly this time of year, there goes a big balloon marked ‘Financial Education’ up into the air. It is a sign of

progress for those, like us, who believe in the importance of teaching money skills, knowledge and confidence in the classroom that the topic now features on many an educator’s calendar - the autumn budget, November’s Talk Money Week, by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) and March’s Global Money Week. However, this year, for the first time since

2013, when financial education became a limited element of England’s national curriculum, less than half of pupils report having received it, according to MaPS. Repeated studies have shown a lack of confidence from teachers and parents to tackle the subject and many they believe it is the responsibility of others or banks to teach it. Often when everyone thinks it is someone else’s job, nothing happens.

Currently nearly half of 16-24 year olds cannot

cover an unexpected bill of £500, they are the UK's fastest growing group of debtors, the most susceptible to scams and the biggest users of high cost credit to pay for basic living costs. Already impacted disproportionally by the pandemic, young people must also deal with the gig economy, an aggressive advertising and credit culture, instant gratification purchase tools, and high rents. This year’s Young Persons’ Money Index, by The London Institute of Banking & Finance, revealed that 67% of secondary school students regularly worry about money. Among 17 and 18 year olds, that figure rises to 82%. Many schools go beyond the basic

requirements, but our experience is most struggle to find the time and expertise to provide a meaningful financial education. More than half of schools do not have to follow the national curriculum, and when they do, it is often squeezed out of lessons, being taught alongside other meaty life skill subjects, or offered as a no context question in Maths. Just 17% of secondary school teachers have received relevant training despite 58% wanting to, according to an All Party Parliamentary Group poll.

‘Flip moment’ Budgeting, taxes, gambling, debt, independent living etc. has not quite reached an educational epoch moment similar to sex and relationship studies, which itself became statutory in England’s state maintained secondary schools last year. It has left many in this niche area to ponder what may trigger a ‘flip moment’ for the subject? Our charity, formed two years before the credit


crunch and subsequent financial crisis, expanded workshops rapidly in schools and youth organisations in that period. Financial education made sense, a no brainer and part of a sustainable generational recovery, subsequently diecast by austerity. This culminated in the huge achievement of getting it on the English national curriculum in 2013 for Citizenship and Maths for 11-16 year olds. Provision has traditionally been stronger in the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland curriculums. Since then, Martin Lewis OBE, a key figure in

that exploit, has called compulsory financial literacy a bit of a red herring. ‘It’s there, but it’s not there’, and how it is being taught and the quality of lessons is a postcode lottery for students. The educational and economic impact of the

pandemic on young people and their prospects may well prove to be a similar but more strategic catalyst – especially for those aged 16+ who have no statutory provision as they step into independent living and take on the biggest financial product of their lives i.e. student finance. The same can be said of primary schools, despite money habits forming from the age of seven. MyBnk and The Centre for Financial Capability have been campaigning to close this gap in provision for years. There is little consistency in a young person’s

financial journey from childhood to independence. For example, MyBnk intervenes at key transitional moments. At primary age, we address attitudes and mindsets like spending and delayed gratification, and at secondary we build capability, tackling concepts and practical money

November 2021

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