As part of Scotland’s Financial Education Week, we’re featuring a number of guest blogs from practitioners and thought-leaders in the field of financial education. Education Scotland’s James Lalley gives his thoughts on why financial education for young people is so vital in a changing world.
Much has been done over the past ten years or so to improve the quality and quantity of the financial education delivered in our schools. This has been achieved by working across the financial, education and cultural sectors to raise the status and profile of financial education but also to improve the confidence of teachers to address the issues in this area of the curriculum. The main reasons for a continued focus on financial education are the ever changing economic, political, social and environmental issues that continue to have a wide-ranging impact on all our lives. These contexts are a central feature of ‘learning for sustainability’ . Financial education has an important role in tackling poverty, reducing financial and social exclusion and improving the employability skills of all our young people. This will benefit both the individual and society in general.
Financial education is about helping young people meet the financial and economic challenges, now and particularly in ‘post-Brexit Britain’. The best way to do this to make sure they receive powerful messages about money and their experiences in and out of the classroom are memorable. Economics, politics and philosophy are at the heart of the development of financial capability underpinned by numeracy and literacy skills. It should be recognised that developing financial skills will make a contribution to an individual’s economic wellbeing which in turn improves physical, mental, emotional and social wellbeing. Issues such as:
- High levels of personal debt (including student debt)
- Increasingly sophisticated financial products
- Pay day and other high cost lending
- ‘Food banks’ and increasing levels of poverty
- High pressure advertising particularly around gambling
- Pension regulation
- Probable increase and fluctuations in interest rates
- Changes to taxes and benefits
mean that there is an even greater need for individuals to take a much more active and informed interest in their own financial futures. Low levels of financial capability can be a cause and a symptom of poverty with the resulting impact on all aspects of health and wellbeing. It is really important that schools work with a range of stakeholders including credit unions to improve the financial skills of our young people.