New research shows schools want to increase their financial education offer

Zoe Renton, policy manager for children and young people at The Money Advice Service (MAS), introduces new research published today on financial education in secondary schools in England.

MAS’s previous research has shown that if we want to improve people’s ability to make the most of their money, we need to start young, with financial education in childhood and adolescence. This is why, during Talk Money Week, hundreds of organisations and individuals are coming together to talk about and plan ways to improve financial capability in the UK – including how to ensure all children and young people have a meaningful financial education.

9 in 10 schools believe improving children and young people’s financial capability is part of their role.

Today we have published new research looking at the experiences of schools in delivering this life-changing learning. Our representative survey of secondary schools in England explored how they are delivering financial education and the barriers they face. The results demonstrate the challenges schools and others face in working to ensure all children and young people get a meaningful financial education – but also highlight the excellent practice and strong foundations to build on.

Is financial education the role of schools?

We found that more than 9 in 10 schools believe improving children and young people’s financial capability is part of their role. This is positive news. Other research undertaken by MAS shows that – along with parents and carers – schools are central to helping children develop the right money skills, attitudes and knowledge. Children who say they’ve learned to manage money at school do better on a number of measures of financial capability, including the likelihood of saving regularly, having a bank account and being confident managing money.

Financial education is most commonly delivered by teachers without relevant training or qualifications.

Barriers to delivering financial education

It is positive then, that all the schools and colleges we surveyed are delivering some sort of financial education – though there are some areas where more barriers and challenges are faced:

While most schools we surveyed (92%) teach financial numeracy or calculations, only four in ten gave learners the opportunity to experience planning a budget. Financial education is most commonly delivered by teachers without relevant training or qualifications (88% of schools used this approach).

Financial education is delivered relatively infrequently – with half of schools delivering financial education only once or twice a term or less frequently
This all matters because the evidence tells us that giving young people the chance to put their learning into practice – like managing a real budget – may make an impact on financial behaviours. Evidence also suggests that financial education delivered by people who have been trained or accredited may be particularly effective.

Only four in ten [schools surveyed] gave learners the opportunity to experience planning a budget.

It also matters because only three fifths of schools and colleges told us they feel they have the necessary knowledge and skills to support their learners.

An appetite to do more

Perhaps most important however is the fact that the survey reveals an appetite among schools and colleges to do more. Almost three quarters (72%) said they want to increase the financial education they offer. That is great news for MAS and other organisations in the financial education sector who know that these education settings – alongside parents, carers and practitioners – are vital if we are to improve the nation’s financial capability in the longer term.

National level data and resources

So what next? The Money Advice Service is working with our partners to deliver The Financial Capability Strategy for the UK, part of which is to ensure that schools and colleges have the knowledge, skills and tools they need to achieve their ambition. Schools can go to www.fincap.org.uk/schools to find out more about The Strategy, download resources and tools, and find providers of financial education using our financial education map.

A vision for the future

We also want to see action at the national level, benefiting all the nations of the UK, to address the challenges teachers face. We want all schools and colleges to have access to clear guidance on how to deliver a coherent programme of financial education to all their learners, with financial education represented broadly across the curriculum, and considered in inspections and assessments. We also want to work to make sure all schools have ready access to:

  • high-quality tools and resources
  • expert help from external providers, and/or
  • training.

These actions are essential if teachers’ ambitions are to translate into ensuring all children and young people receive a meaningful financial education, and ultimately grow up to be financially capable adults.

Find out more

There are a number of resources your school or financial education organisation can use to promote financial capability:

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