Assessing the school curriculum: maths and financial education

23 February, 2023Mutahara Gofur
Learning financial education can be tricky

Earlier this year, Rishi Sunak proposed making maths a compulsory subject for all students up until the age of 18. The Prime Minister wants young people to leave school feeling “better equipped for the jobs of the future”. But is maths really all that’s needed to prepare young people for the future, or do we also need to look at financial education?

Where does the skills gap really lie?

In his first speech at the beginning of the year, Sunak expressed the need to "reimagine our approach to numeracy." He then went on to say that "letting our children out into the world without those skills is letting our children down."

School students should certainly be encouraged to develop their maths skills, given how important the subject is within the school curriculum. However, rather than extending how long maths is taught for, it may be more constructive to make the current syllabus more applicable to real-world scenarios – we’ve all heard people complain that they didn’t learn about useful topics in school, like taxes, savings, and mortgages, that would have benefitted them in later life.

When looking at maths as a subject, we need to ask whether lessons currently cover issues that young people will face in everyday life once they leave school. But should financial education be incorporated into maths lessons, or does it need to be a separate standalone subject?

Why is financial education important?

Financial education allows young people to build on their financial knowledge and make strong financial decisions once they leave school. Research from our 2021-22 Young Persons’ Money Index shows that 81% of young people felt anxious about money, with 72% wanting to learn more about money and finance in school.

We also found that:

  • 62% said they hadn’t received any information about tax in school
  • 36% say they don’t how a student loan works
  • 32% would like to learn more about pursuing a career in the finance sector.

It’s clear that there is a demand for financial education and it would help fill gaps in knowledge among school students. Oliver Karlsson, runner up of the 14-15 category of our Young Financial Journalist 2022 competition, believes it would be useful to have financial education as a separate subject at schools. “It’s a bit of a shame it’s not taught.”

How can we bridge the financial education gap?

We have a range of financial education qualifications for school, sixth form, and college students. Our Level 3 Certificate in Financial Studies and Level 3 Diploma in Financial Studies (DipFS) were created to help students build and gain confidence in their financial knowledge.

Although these qualifications can help bridge the knowledge gap, financial education not being part of the school curriculum makes it difficult to find the time to teach it. To counteract this, we’ve developed resources for schools and teachers who want to offer financial education but feel unable to because of time demands.

Our award-winning online programme, Lessons in Financial Education (LiFE), gives students the opportunity to learn more about money on their own terms. Students might access the course in tutor time, after-school clubs or during other enrichment opportunities.

LiFE uses animation, games and music to teach personal finance. The online format is very accessible, makes financial education fun and caters for different learning styles. It covers:

  • spending and budgeting
  • insurance
  • borrowing
  • types of payment cards
  • using money abroad, and
  • routes into financial careers.

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Find out more about our financial education qualifications