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Why teenagers need to know about money

20 November, 2019Heather Tilston

Following the publication of this year’s Young Persons’ Money Index, Heather Tilston finds out what young people want to learn about managing money and how they benefit from lessons in financial capability.

Boys learning about financial capability

This year’s Young Persons’ Money Index results make for sobering reading.

Despite five years of financial education being included on the national curriculum, most young people say they are not getting enough access and that they worry about money.

82% want to learn more about money in school, and well over half (60%) want it to be a separate subject. When we asked students what they wanted to learn more about, their top priorities were:

  • financial products, such as mortgages and credit cards
  • tax
  • budgeting
  • and debt management.

That shouldn’t be a surprise.

They want to learn about how to manage money in their day-to-day lives and the products that can help them achieve their aspirations as they start their journey to adulthood.

So what do teachers think? What impact can financial education have and why is it important?

We asked some schools who are currently delivering our financial capability qualifications for their reactions to this year’s results.

Financial capability is important

Helen Westwood teaches Financial Studies and Maths at Caroline Chisolm School and is the 2019 Moneywise Secondary Personal Finance Teacher of the Year.

“I would strongly echo the importance of dedicated lessons on financial education to enable students to consider and study the different areas of financial capability in depth. 

“I am privileged to have been teaching standalone financial capability lessons since the early days of the LIBF Certificate in Financial Studies in 2005. And I have seen the massive impact they can have on students – both personally and professionally.

"My students regularly express how my lessons – and their study of the LIBF qualifications in their dedicated finance lessons  –  are the main ones that they will use in later life.

And it is the lessons on taxation – and how to complete a self assessment form – that are most often positively commented upon as being so very useful and important for later life.

“I find it deeply frustrating that the subject is not given more prominence by both the Department for Education and via the inspection system.

"I believe a high level of financial capability is one of the most important areas that students can develop in order to support a happy and successful future.”

Students need to understand financial decisions

Kirsten Bernard, Director of Sixth Form, St Thomas More Catholic Teaching School

“Financial Capability Teaching in schools is critical. Students need to understand the choices they make with financial decisions and the long-term impact on them and their lives.

"Following student feedback on this, we have increased the number of students studying the LIBF qualifications from 15 two years ago, to over 55 students this year. And it also has a firm place in our PSHE programme.

“Students recognise good debt, investing in their own homes and education. Likewise, if our students are handed a credit card at the financially naive age of 18, they would understand the consequences of frivolous spending on it.

“Some parents talk enviously, that they would have liked the same at their child’s age.

“As a Sixth Form, we have responded to student feedback and are encouraging students to become responsible borrowers, sensible savers – and to appreciate the need for financial planning throughout their life.”

Finance provides the cultural capital that students need to be successful

Steph Payne, Head of Business, Finance and ICT, Walbottle Campus

“Financial literacy should absolutely be at the heart of education.

"The young people of modern Britain need to have a rich and broad curriculum that prepares them for their future employment or higher education. Finance provides the cultural capital that students need to be successful in life.

“Students at Walbottle Campus have gone from strength to strength with their financial education – with many now having savings accounts and help-to-buy ISAs. These are the types of financial products the students must be aware of if they are to be prepared for their next steps.”

What teenagers think of financial capability

Don’t just take Steph’s word for it. Here’s what some of her 17-year-old students said.

Daniel Youngman

“Finance has inspired me to open a help-to-buy ISA after researching each provider and deciding which option would be best.”

Emily Gardener

“Finance has inspired me to open a help to buy ISA at the age of 17 in order to buy a house at a younger age.”

James Taylor

“Finance has educated me on how important shopping around and finding the best deal is.”

Sean Matheus

“Finance has enabled me to be aware of the traps and pitfalls that are within the financial sector.”  

More about the Young Persons' Money Index