An Overview of Financial Education in the National Curriculum
After a successful campaign orchestrated by several like-minded organisations, it was to great cheer that the Department for Education announced that financial education would be included<a young-persons-money-index.pdf?sfvrsn="2''"> within the National Curriculum.
These changes came into effect from September 2014 and meant that schools would be required to teach their students about money management, budgeting and how to live as confident consumers in a financially-orientated world.
ifs University College was one of several organisations that while supportive of the Department’s proposals, had some concerns about its implementation. Working with a newly-formed youth financial capability group, the case was made that Citizenship and Maths may not be the most appropriate channels of delivery, while also pointing out that the majority of schools are now academies and are no longer obliged to follow the National Curriculum.
<a young-persons-money-index.pdf?sfvrsn="2''">The Young Persons’ Money Index
In anticipation of these changes to the curriculum, ifs University College commissioned the first edition of the Young Persons’ Money Index, to provide a benchmark of the levels of financial literacy among teenagers on the eve of the introduction of formal financial education. On its release, the report found a concerning, if not unexpected picture of low levels of understanding of and engagement with the world of financial services.
<a young-persons-money-index-2015-here.pdf?sfvrsn="0''">The Young Persons’ Money Index - 2015
With the school year fast coming to an end, the second edition of the Young Persons’ Money Index was released in July to see how much had changed in the past ten months. The 2015 research project repeated the formula devised the previous year. More than 2,000 young people took part and were asked about their financial behaviours, experiences and attitudes and where necessary, key indicators were been tracked against the previous year’s project
The findings in 2015 are even starker. The majority of UK teenagers receive no formal financial education whatsoever within school or college, remain reliant on their parents and family and are lacking in confidence to manage their own finances. This is evident among 17-18 year olds where a huge gap in the provision of financial education exists, at a crucial life stage but perhaps most significantly, despite its introduction into the curriculum, fewer students at GCSE level are receiving personal financial education in the classroom than in 2014.
Significantly, the research also revealed that Teenage girls in the UK are receiving significantly less financial education in school; with only 36 per cent of girls currently learn about personal finance, in comparison to 45 per cent of boys the same age.
Many reasons could be offered for this disparity; financial subjects are possibly more popular among boys, the importance placed on financial education in different schools or that at GCSE-level where students begin to make choices about the subjects they want to study, boys are opting for more business-orientated subjects.
In a sense, it doesn’t matter. The fact remains that financial education is not being offered consistently and to a high standard to every student and that is a problem. The effects of poor decision making are all around us, from the numbers of personal insolvencies registered every year, to the explosion of short-term lending on the high street.
2016 will see the third itineration of the Young Persons’ Money Index. Whether next year’s report will reflect the campaigner’s earlier optimism remains to be seen. ifs sincerely hopes that it does.