Chris Langrick reflects on the findings of the recent Fin Cap Talk Money Week 2018 and the challenges of delivering consistent learning in schools
Talk Money Week (formerly Financial Capability Week) is the annual celebration of the work thousands of organisations are doing to improve money management across the UK.
It is an annual event organised as part of the Financial Capability Strategy for the UK and aims to get more people talking about money.
We were delighted to see our Charity of the Year, DebtAware, delivering its money lessons to 13 primary schools across Lancashire during the week, reaching 450 children who have improved their financial skills as a result.
We are working with them to extend skills into new counties this year as we know that children as young as seven start to develop habits with money and at 9 or 10 are ripe to set up good behaviours to last them a lifetime.
To mark Talk Money Week, organisers took the opportunity to launch five new Calls to Action as part of The Financial Capability Strategy’s ambitious vision of how, together, we could move effectively towards a more financially capable nation. Alongside saving, credit, debt advice and retirement was financial education – taking its place as an essential building block in financial capability. This was good to see.
Using robust insights and evidence Fin Cap reported that only 52% of 7-17 year olds said they receive some form of financial education in school, at home, or in other settings. The call to action is to make sure that all children and young people to have a meaningful financial education.
They have created a Children and Young People Action Plan which is worth a read. It’s all about setting out the business case for financial education and creating the right resources to deliver it consistently and with scale.
Having a sense of what is going on in schools and elsewhere is hard so Fin Cap has also put together a map of projects and services for children and young people across the UK – to signpost people to help nearby.
Organisations like MyBnk are targeting age groups 7-11 with innovative, high impact and high energy financial education workshops. Commercial outfits like nimbl are developing prepaid credit cards and apps aimed at young people – from 8-18 – taking parents and children on a journey around sensible money management.
Also extolling the virtues of NatWest’s mymoneysense.com scheme during the week was Mrs Ellie Dawson, Deputy head Teacher of a primary school in York.
She says: “ I was amazed by the breadth of resources on offer to teachers, from lesson plans to activity sheets, interactive games and quizzes. The programme makes teaching financial education so easy.”
Her enthusiasm is backed by new research showing that schools want to increase their financial education offer. Zoe Renton, policy manager for children and young people at The Money Advice Service (MAS), talked about new research published during Talk Money Week on financial education in secondary schools in England.
While there was an overwhelming desire to provide wider financial education in schools, most did not have qualified or dedicated resources to do it. And what there is, is only delivered infrequently.
Even though financial education has been on the national curriculum in secondary schools since 2014, the actual take up is patchy and under-resourced. And there is precious little insistence on financial education in primary schools, even though teachers too see the value in it.
It’s not surprising then that Talk Money Week 2018 was also the catalyst for action from MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis who delivered 100 free copies of a financial education textbook to all 3,400 state-funded secondary schools in England.
Your Money Matters, the first-ever curriculum-mapped financial education textbook, is aimed at students aged 15 to 16, and will teach them about topics such as savings, budgeting, borrowing, student loans and identity theft. It was written by the financial education charity Young Money with guidance from Martin.
Martin says: "I still wrestle with whether it's right that a private individual should fund this. Yet nothing else was forthcoming, and pragmatics outweigh principles.”
I share his view – we are doing our small bit to help too. But it needs joined up thinking from government to make money management teaching the norm. And equip the next generation of youngsters to do a whole lot better than previous ones.
As Martin so eloquently puts it: "We live in one of the world's most competitive consumer economies, with companies spending billions on advertising, marketing and teaching their staff to sell, yet we don't get any buyer's training. That needs to change. We need to break the cycle of debt. The best place to teach is in the classroom."