'Practical support needed in schools to better financial education'

Sharon Davies

Sharon Davies

The recent report from the all-party parliamentary group for financial education has found that the UK continues to undervalue the power of financial education and its potential benefits to young people and the wider economy. 

As secretariat to this report, we have seen first-hand at Young Enterprise the desire of young people to learn about managing their money, but with only 38 per cent recalling having done so in school more needs to be done to address the barriers that currently exist.

Across the UK, less than half (44 per cent) of young people aged 11 to 17 feel confident managing money. It’s also an issue that is echoed across the rest of the population, with 45 per cent of adults saying they do not feel confident managing money.

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Furthermore, two-fifths of secondary school teachers are not aware that financial education is a national curriculum requirement despite the subject being mandatory for secondary schools since 2014.

We know that many schools and teachers consider learning about money a key life skill and important to young people’s futures, however there can be significant challenges building this into the school curriculum.

Through feedback from more than 400 teachers, the APPG report has identified these barriers and made a series of recommendations to help overcome them and support schools in the delivery of this much needed area of learning.

What is clear from the report’s findings is that more support is needed and that this support should be both structural and practical. Teachers need more guidance on how financial education can support other areas of the curriculum as well as their whole school priorities. 

There is also a need for greater accessibility of resources that can be differentiated to the needs of their young people and their unique settings.    

We need to reframe the notion that financial education is just about adding up and recognise the role of financial education as an enabler and opportunity-maker for young people.

A report from UCL stated that the financial skills of 15-year-olds from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds are similar to 11-year-olds from more advantaged backgrounds. Clearly, we need to work together to make sure this gap is eradicated.

Improved financial education also brings financial benefits to wider society. According to research by the Confederation of British Industry and GoHenry, prioritising financial education could add an extra £6.98bn to the UK economy each year, equivalent to £202bn by 2050.

Removing the barriers

How can we remove the existing barriers preventing young people from accessing financial education?

It starts through educating children while at primary school when they are forming their mindset with money, shaping their financial capability into young adulthood and beyond.

This is especially important following research from Cambridge University that has found that children’s mindset around money habits are set by the age of seven. Building strong money habits from a young age will ensure the next generation can develop a healthy relationship with money, best preparing themselves for their future careers.