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Financial education in schools: how to fix two lost years? PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 September 2016
Today The Money Charity releases original research exploring the state of financial education in secondary schools. 

From September 2014, financial education became part of the secondary school curriculum. A culmination of years of campaigning, the change was greeted as a great advance. For some, particularly in the policymaking world, there was a sense of “job done!” – now it was on the curriculum, secondary school students would have good financial education.

When the change was announced, The Money Charity were pleased to see financial education finally recognised as something all young people should have access to. But we were sceptical that it would impact what actually went on in schools. In itself, unless matched by a large input of resources and incentives for schools, it would be unlikely to change much in the classroom.

Two years on, what has happened?
Having been one of the main organisations delivering financial education in schools, both before and after 2014, we at The Money Charity saw very little uptick in demand from schools. And, anecdotally, teachers rarely mentioned the curriculum requirement. Meanwhile, long standing complaints about insufficient time, resources and leadership support continued.

And this Spring, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People reported the continuing need for “strengthening school provision” - highlighting that much work was still to be done, and championing a redoubled effort. We gave our input to this report, but felt that the anecdotes we drew on needed to be more robustly evidenced.

This report is our answer to that. Based on a survey of 126 teachers and in depth interviews with a further six up and down the UK, it is our attempt to answer the question of what happened. In it, we explore the extent and quality of financial education in the UK, ask what the barriers are to schools improving what they offer, and discuss how schools and policymakers can improve the situation.

We find that, while most schools deliver some finance education, teachers have little faith in its quality and are held back by insufficient time, negligible resources and school leaderships who do not view it as a high priority. Teachers we surveyed called for greater resources, and clearer leadership, and a mixed model of provision that includes direct delivery by experts from outside schools.

Key Findings
Financial education is not as effective as it should be. Almost two thirds of teachers tell us financial education in the UK is somewhat or very ineffective.
The introduction of financial education to the curriculum achieved little on the ground. Nearly three quarters of teachers we surveyed saw little or no change.
Even though the vast majority of teachers see it as an important responsibility, schools face huge barriers in delivering financial education. Not least the lack of financial skills on the part of teachers.
In order to be worth more than the paper it’s written on, a curriculum change has to be matched with serious resources and incentives for schools.

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