Members of parliament have launched an inquiry into how financial education can be strengthened throughout primary, secondary and further education.
The cross-party Committee is looking into why the subject is often ignored and how well schools and teachers are supported. A 2022 survey commissioned by the Bank of England found that almost two-thirds of teachers feel there’s not enough time or resources for it.
Research by the Centre for Social Justice last year showed that two-thirds of young adults facing money problems believe better financial education could have helped them.
Education Committee chair Robin Walker MP says: “Today we are launching a new inquiry into how financial education can be more strongly established in the National Curriculum.
“As a backbench MP, I supported the cross-party campaign to ensure it became a part of the curriculum. But almost a decade later, there are still plenty of concerns that students and teachers feel that not enough financial education is being delivered.
“With families and young people continuing to feel cost-of-living pressures, the case for equipping children of all backgrounds with the life skills and knowledge to help manage their money feels as strong and timely as ever. In surveys of young people, financial education is frequently identified as something that they want more of.
“The Committee is also very aware of the strain many teachers and school leaders are under and is reluctant to place extra demands on their time. This will be among our key considerations when examining how best to embed this subject into the curriculum from ages 11 to 16, and whether including more of the content in mathematics may offer the most logical solution.
“With the input of academics and experts, and working with the profession, we hope to contribute ideas of how best to build financial education into the primary school curriculum, and look at what role it could play in the Prime Minister’s aim of incorporating a form of mathematics study for all at post-16. Teaching young people these practical skills could help boost engagement in a subject that some find abstract or challenging.”
Quilter personal finance expert Katja Oakley-Bell says: “It’s well known that learning gets harder as we get older and with this in mind, we need to teach important life skills to children at an early age, and that includes money skills.
“With the cost-of-living crisis still impacting people’s day-to-day lives and inflation eroding people’s money, financial skills are more important than ever. And they are even more important as we transition to a cashless society where just a tap of your card or phone can fast deplete your wages.
“Teaching financial education in primary school might seem a little extreme, but research has shown that children as young as age seven to eleven can learn good money behaviours and gain skills like budgeting and deferred gratification.
“The government has repeatedly stated that the maths curriculum for primary schools will provide children with financial education. Unfortunately, maths is only one part of the puzzle as it’s doesn’t necessarily help children to make the right behavioural choices towards a balanced budget that allows them to save for their extended life or buy their first home instead of taking the next phone upgrade.
“This might seem a way off for primary school children, but these behaviours might be as simple as saving their pocket money to buy something they really want rather than spending it on sweets as they get it each week.
“Study after study has revealed terrifying statistics of the nation’s lack of financial capability. These should be acting as a very serious wakeup call that needs to be tacked at the root cause. The Financial Conduct Authority’s financial lives study of UK adults has revealed that 1.4 million adults are in ‘difficulty’ because they missed bill payments or credit commitments, and these difficulties often start from a young age. External cost-of-living factors don’t help but developing prioritisation and budgeting skills can.
“Financial education from a young age is a solution that has proven to work. Making it a compulsory part of the curriculum would mean that no matter what a child’s background is, they will have the opportunity to achieve a secure financial future. Helping the next generation to develop these vital skills should be a priority for any government.
“The Education Committee inquiry into strengthening financial education is a positive step and we urge the government to listen and act.”
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