Financial education compulsory in proposed curriculum

Financial education including knowledge of products and the importance of saving for retirement could become compulsory in schools if proposed changes to the national curriculum are accepted.

The Department of Education has today (7 February) published its proposed curriculum which calls for financial education to form part of the “citizenship” study, and says it should prepare students “to take their place in society as responsible citizens by providing them with the skills and knowledge to manage their money and make sound financial decisions”.

Also, financial mathematics such as compound interest could be included as part of the national mathematics curriculum.

One of the aims of the proposed national curriculum for citizenship is to ensure that all pupils “are equipped with the financial skills to enable them to manage their money on a day-to-day basis as well as to plan for future financial needs”.

Through two stages of education, students would first learn about the function and uses of money and basics of products and money management, and then later move on to wages, tax, credit and debit, financial risk and a range of more sophisticated financial products and services.

In January 2012, a survey by the Chartered Insurance Institute said that 94 per cent of secondary school teachers said teaching of financial education should be more comprehensive because it is an essential life skill.

In contrast, only 27 per cent of students believe their education has given them basic budgeting skills, and about one in four does not understand the term ‘credit’.

Annabel Brodie-Smith, communications director of the Association of Investment Companies, said: “This is potentially life-changing new for the UK’s young people. If the next generation can leave school equipped with the knowledge and skills to help manage their finances effectively, it will make an enormous difference to their lives.

“The inclusion of financial education on the curriculum is an important step on the way to achieving this, but clearly there’s still a lot of work to be done.”

The Personal Financial Education Group, a charity dedicated to increasing financial education in schools, calls the addition a “huge victory” for the campaign.

Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of the group, said: “Financial education is essential in equipping young people with the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to be able to manage their money well.”

Responses to the consultation are due by 16 April.