Why financial education is so important

17 July, 2019Helen Westwood
Helen Westwood has been teaching children how to manage their finances since 2004 and was named "the standout winner" of Moneywise 2019 Personal Finance Teacher of the Year (Secondary) Award. She tells us what the award means to her and why financial education is so important.
Helen Westwood, Moneywise winner

What makes you passionate about teaching financial capability?

Some of the fantastically ill-informed decisions I’ve made with money over the years!
They make superb material for lessons and formed the basis of my submission for the Moneywise competition!

My students love to hear about why I chose my student current account and how I got an unexpected tax bill in my third year of university. I point out that I didn’t have the opportunity to reflect and study financial capability like they do. I just didn’t know any better.

I believe an informed understanding of financial matters is the foundation to a happy and successful future – regardless of the size of an individual’s income.

I love seeing my students consider and debate what they might like to do in the future and how they are going to go about achieving their objectives. It’s fascinating just how strongly teenagers can feel about how old they want to be when they buy their first home or have a family.

How did you get into teaching financial capability?

I believe I’m one of the longest serving teachers of the Level 3 Certificate in Financial Studies (CeFS) – having been asked to teach it initially after the first pilot was completed.

My deputy head approached me because I’d been a tax consultant with PwC. Although I’d only been teaching Maths for two years, I really liked the sound of the content and focus of the course.

I taught CeFS and Level 3 Diploma in Financial Studies (DipFS) at my first school for three years. Then I met my new head of department at a training session run by what’s now The London Institute of Banking & Finance.

I was offered the position of Head of Financial Studies at Caroline Chisholm School in September 2007 and have been teaching there ever since.

What do you like about teaching our qualifications?

They give a structure to what’s otherwise a huge area of knowledge to explore with students.

Level 2 Certificate in Financial Education (CeFE) gives an excellent introduction to the key financial concepts and areas. The link to the world of work and entrepreneurship provides another interesting element and area for discussion.

CeFS will always be my favourite course to teach as it is the one that I have taught the longest. It provides an excellent overview of so many key financial areas, with the additional opportunity to study some in more depth – particularly as students move onto DipFS.

How do you feel about winning the Moneywise award?

I am absolutely thrilled to have been awarded Moneywise 2019 Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Award in the secondary category!

I hope more schools will recognise the positive impact these qualifications can have on students and find a way to make financial capability part of their curriculum offering.

Surveys regularly show that students feel this subject is one of the only ones that will be useful and informative for their later life.

Providing these opportunities for students – with the support of the Institute’s qualifications – is what drives me to keep banging the drum for financial education. I’m so pleased to have received the award and recognition of my teaching in this area.

More about our Financial Capability Qualifications