Monday, 8 July 2013

Money lessons in school

From next year, children in secondary school will be taught about debt, insurance, savings and taking risks with their money, according to the new curriculum for England published today.

There's been increasing concern that young people are ill-equipped to deal with financial challenges they are are coming up against out of school.

The new emphasis on Personal Finance in the English curriculum is the result of a long-running campaign to improve financial skills - a need which has looked even more acute since the onset of the financial crisis.

There was already a plan to include the instruction in Citizenship lessons, but the curriculum published for consultation today goes into more detail.

From September next year 11 to 14 year-olds in Key Stage 3, as well a learning about budgeting, will be taught about managing risk - for instance which places are safest to keep their cash.

14 to 16 year-olds, Key Stage 4, will explore income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance and savings and pensions.


  1. This saddens me profoundly.

    Of course it's a good thing. It's just not the right good thing.

    One in five UK school leavers go into the world of work (for these guy the world of unemployment may be more likely ) without basic numeracy and literacy. This has been true for at least the last 20 years.

    What's the point teaching someone to read the fine print when they, err, can't?

    Will a child who can't calculate a simple percentage understand an APR? I doubt it.

    I've a jaundiced view of financial education in schools because, whilst you can throw as much money as you like at the curriculum, the one thing you can't expand is time. When the school bell rings the opportunity to teach is over.

    Whilst I've no doubt that much of the new FE curriculum will be integrated into other lessons it will still take teachers' eyes off their most challenging task - to turn one in five of the children they teach into people who can function in society.

    Basic skills should be all we concentrate on. Until we get that right everything else is inessential.

    You might think I'm saying that financial education will be of benefit to the 80% percent who do OK or better. I'm not even sure that is true: Most are prudent enough and have enough general knowledge to thrive and survive. Most of those who get into a crisis do so despite planning. Of those that don't, most only learn money management because of their experience of dealing with debt.

    Those that could benefit from financial education are usually those who can't access it because they don't have basic skills and don't have the support at home that most achieving pupils do.

    So, financial education is a useless panacea imposed on an educational system that can't deliver basic skills bey people who don't understand this because they've never experienced it - just like they've never experienced living on jobseekers allowance with no other support.

  2. Very interesting, Andrew - thanks