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Improving financial education

Improving financial education

If you want children to understand a subject, the obvious approach is to educate them on it. 

More than 80 per cent of students are calling for greater financial education in schools, according to recent research, but industry experts say this will not be enough for younger generations to grasp the essentials of personal finance. 

The research, released last month, was part of the London Institute of Banking and Finance’s Young Persons’ Money Index. 

The research found that despite the introduction of financial education to the UK’s national curriculum in 2014, just 8 per cent of young people said the money skills they learnt could be attributed to formal education. 

So why do students still want more financial education five years after its introduction onto the national curriculum?

Standalone subject?

Research conducted by the Money and Pensions Service in November 2018 shows that financial education is most commonly integrated into existing subject lessons, with 96 per cent of schools or colleges surveyed doing so. 

Indeed, only 31 per cent of schools or colleges teach financial education as a separate subject. 

A spokesperson for LIBF says: “The government could help by being really clear that financial education is vitally important. Including it in the formal frameworks and giving clear guidance for schools on what they need to cover, and how, would help.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, says: “Financial education is part of the national curriculum in maths and citizenship, as well as part of the programmes of study taught in personal, social, health and economic education.” 

He says while the LIBF’s research suggests that more children want it to be taught as a standalone subject, “this raises the question of what other topics should be removed from the curriculum in order to make space for more financial education”. 

Both the Conservative and Labour parties were contacted for comment on how they would approach financial education should they win the impending general election, but neither responded to requests for comment. 

A spokesperson for the LIBF says: “We work with hundreds of schools around the country who teach financial education as a standalone subject, and they tell us that the impact of that is really powerful – it really does change lives for the better, not only building knowledge, but changing attitudes and behaviours for the better.

“But, however it is delivered, we need a clear syllabus, dedicated lesson time and for the impact to be formally measured.”

A spokesman for the Department for Education says: “We made financial literacy compulsory for 11 to 16-year-olds within the national curriculum for citizenship to ensure that children growing up gain the essential skills in managing money. 

“To further this, we are working with HM Treasury and Maps to consider how we can better support the teaching of financial education in schools.”