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Financial education only ‘scratching the surface’ leaving young people woefully unprepared for life, according to new research

12 November, 2018Heather Tilston
  • A-group-of-male-students-studyingMost young people say they worry about money
  • Children want to learn more about money in school

Financial education in schools is happening too infrequently to make an impact – leaving young people ill-prepared for adult life and worrying about money, according to our latest research.

While the numbers of young people reporting they receive financial education in school has jumped, from 44% in 2017 to 62% in 2018, the amount of time spent on financial education has dropped dramatically. Only 33% say they had a lesson ‘in the last month’, compared to 43% in 2017. Worryingly, 14% said their most recent lesson was ‘in the last term’ and for 23% it had been a year or more since they’d had any financial education.

The 2018 Young Persons’ Money Index found that the inclusion of financial education in broader subjects is the most common delivery method, with PHSE, Maths and Citizenship being the lessons of choice for schools. Very few (3%) report having dedicated personal finance lessons.

More young people say they worry about money – 71% in total (2017: 62%), increasing to 81% in the 17-18 age group – and increasing numbers say they are being exposed to scams.

Most young people – 83% – say they want to learn more about money in school (2017: 76%).

Alison Pask, our MD of Financial Capability and Community Outreach says:

“The current approach can only scratch the surface of what children need to know about money, meaning they’re woefully unprepared for life. Being able to calculate interest rates and understand some financial concepts is useful, but that doesn’t add up to a financial education.

“Financial education is not being given enough time in the classroom, it’s not being taught in the right context and it’s not being delivered frequently enough. Young people need help understanding the practicalities of managing money – day-to-day and for the long term – and teachers need support to deliver that. We need to look at what’s being taught, how that’s being delivered and make sure there’s enough time on the curriculum. Otherwise we risk another generation growing up without the essential knowledge they need to manage money well.”

We are calling for clearer guidance to be given to teachers about what financial education should cover and for financial education to be allocated a mandatory number of hours – at least an hour a week.

The Young Persons’ Money Index

The Young Persons’ Money Index is an annual survey that tracks the delivery of financial education in schools in the UK. It also examines the attitudes, behaviours and experiences of UK students in relation to money and personal finance. For the 2018 edition, YouthSight surveyed a representative sample of just over 2,000 school children, aged between 15-18, UK wide, from a mix of schools including academies, local authority (state) schools, private and independent.

Download Young Persons' Money Index report 2018


Find out more about the Young Persons' Money Index or our financial capability qualifications.

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