David Butler, EBEA Advocacy lead, provides an update to developments in financial education.
Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory position
In July 2018 the Education Secretary, Damien Hinds, announced the disappointing news that the ‘E’ (economic) in PSHE education would not be made statutory (it had been previously announced that sex and relationships education and health education would become statutory). The argument for not making the ‘E’ component statutory is that it is already adequately covered in the mathematics and citizenship curriculums. There is little evidence to support this argument. Recent independent surveys have found the teaching of financial education to be very patchy. Few schools have a coherent financial education curriculum and even fewer evaluate the effectiveness of whatever provision they do make. Most 16 year olds have a weak understanding of money management and post-16 students are poorly prepared for handling their finances at university or when they enter employment. The financial education within the citizenship curriculum focuses mainly on government income and expenditure, rather than personal finances, and many schools have ceased to teach it. The mathematics curriculum tends to use finance as a context for carrying out calculations which require one correct answer. For example, students may be asked to calculate the ‘best value for money’ by working out that the unit price of a two litre bottle of soft drink is lower than that for a one litre bottle. There is no scope for students being able to argue that the two litre bottle may not be a best buy if half of it goes flat and gets thrown away, or whether consuming two litres of sugary drink is necessarily a good spending decision. Mathematics is not interested in asking the moral or social questions about personal finance. For example, we know that many poor spending decisions made by young people (and indeed adults) are brought about by social pressures from the media or peer groups. Survey after survey show that young people, their parents and teachers and the public at large regard financial education as vitally important yet the government has once again failed to make it an entitlement for all pupils and students. The likely outcome is that provision will remain very variable and dependent on the priority schools and colleges attach to it amongst the many competing demands on the curriculum and resources.
Free financial education text books and teacher guides
Martin Lewis (Moneysavingexpert.com) has funded 100 text books, entitled ‘Your Money Matters’, and teacher guides for every state funded secondary school in England. They are expected to arrive in schools some time during November. While the initiative is to be welcomed, the track record of putting resources into schools without any additional support is not good. Schools are therefore urged, if they have not already done so, to get involved with one of the many organisations providing support for financial education – Young Money (previously pfeg), now part of the Young Enterprise organisation, is a good place to start (www. young-money.org.uk). It will be interesting to see what impact the textbook has, but at the time of writing no evaluation has been put in place, so it we may well be dependent on anecdotal evidence and it will be useful to receive comments from EBEA members if copies of the textbook come their way.
Some financial education initiatives and organisations that may be of interest to members
London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF), formerly known as the IFS School of Finance, offers qualifications from level 1 up to degree and postgraduate level. Its level 2 qualification is included in performance tables in 2019 but not from 2020. However, its level 3 qualifications are included in the post-16 qualifications framework and attract UCCAS points. The level 1 course can be studied entirely on-line and some schools and colleges use it as an extra-curricular activity or as module within PSHE education. The benefit of such qualifications is that they provide a coherent course, with clear learning outcomes which are assessed. They also provide good quality teaching and learning resources. The LIBF has its own university, located in the City of London, and offers a range of academic and professional qualifications, including apprenticeships. LIBF also sponsors the annual student investor competition which attracts a very substantial entry.
The Money Advice Service (MAS) has recently published research on the quality of provision of financial education and its impact in England. Its findings will help to shape its Children and Young People’s Commissioning Plan which will set out how resources should be best directed. MAS is a government funded body providing a one stop shop for impartial financial advice to people of all ages. It supports financial education in schools and colleges and funds evaluations of a range of projects. Further information from: www.money adviceservice.com
Blackbullion, working in collaboration with the University of Surrey, surveyed 2000 students and found that almost half said that the cost of going to university was higher than expected and just over 60% had no budget in place. With this mind, Bullion has developed on-line resources and tools for students thinking about going to university to help them consider the costs and benefits of higher education and support better financial planning and money management. Further information from www.blackbullion.com (Money-Ready for University).
Finance4Kids is a social enterprise developed by chartered accountants. It aims to educate and equip students aged 8-16 with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed financial decisions using gamification and other interactive approaches. It provides school based sessions and holiday club activities. It currently charges at cost but is seeking sponsorship. The organisation is based in Wolverhampton and its work is currently centred in the Midlands but it is looking to involve schools further afield in the future. Further information from: www.finance4kids.co.uk.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) provides a range of free resources to help young people prepare for the world of work. It has recently launched a new video in its award winning ‘tax facts’ series on why national insurance numbers are important and managing tax through personal accounts. The video can be downloaded free of charge from the HMRC’s YouTube channel.
MyBnk is one of the UK’s leading delivers of financial and enterprise programmes for young people aged 7-25 in schools and youth organisations. Programmes are developed by teams of financial experts and young people. The programme deliverers are trained and assessed by teachers and young people. Further information from www.mybnk.org.
Nat West’s MoneySense is an award winning programme for 5-18 year olds that has been in existence for 24 years and has reached an estimated 6m young people during that time. Schools can become accredited MoneySense schools by meeting certain criteria. Its new resources have a focus on mental and emotional wellbeing in relation to money. Further information from: www.mymoneysense.com.
The Money Charity supports anyone of any age to manage money more effectively. It provides workshops, teacher resources and student guides. It has recently produced a student money management manual for students going on to university or who are already there. It is available free to download from the charity’s website: www.themoneycharity.org.uk.
Chair of Advocacy, EBEA