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Is financial education failing our children?

Is enough being done to teach financial education in schools? A survey published this week by banking group Thinkmoney showed that only 4% of parents believed that their children shouldn’t be taught about money in school.

75% of parents want budgeting skills to be part of the primary curriculum – and for those of you in NI, Scotland and Wales, you’ll be pleased to hear that it is, but England isn't there yet.

We asked Kirsty Bowman-Vaughan, who leads on the Money Advice Service’s thinking on ways to help children and young people manage their money now and in the future, for her thoughts on financial education and what parents can do to help their children learn about money.

Financial education – what is our grade?

The end of year reports have all come in, but what grade does the first year of financial education in the English national curriculum get. An A* or an F?

It looks like ‘D: must try harder’ is the conclusion.

Ifs University College, an organisation who provides financial education qualifications, reported last week that a massive 59% of 15-16 year olds said they hadn’t received any financial education at school this year. This has actually got worse - last year the answer was 47%.

A number I thought shockingly high at the time and wouldn’t get worse. Perhaps a lot more are receiving financial education than the figures suggest; they just can’t remember it.

But if that’s the case, a budgeting lesson forgotten just a few months after taking place is probably not going to help in a few years’ time when the bills start coming in. Financial education needs to be relevant, practical and engaging for it to work.

This situation is not what parents want at all. Parents we speak to know that helping their kids learn to manage their money well is one of the most important things they can do, but they also want to be supported by schools.

However as IFS’s findings show, just because it is on the curriculum, it doesn’t mean that it is definitely going to take place.  

How can you teach your children about money?

Don’t rely on the fact that financial education is on the curriculum to think that the job is done.

If you want new tips on how to help your kid become a top money master, there are simple things you can do.

Involving your children in some of the decisions you make about money is one really easy way to help develop the right financial behaviours for the future.

For example, you could sit them down and show them how you budget the weekly food shop and ask them to have a go.

Talking to your children about the regular money decisions you have to make is a particularly good idea as they reach their late teens.

If this makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re not alone. We teamed up with child psychologist Dr Elizabeth Kilbey, to give you some workable tips in our video.


Speak to your child’s school

You could also speak to your school about what financial education they are giving to your child and ask them how they know whether it is making a difference.

There’s lots of great charities that can support schools in improving how they deliver financial education so they don’t have to do it alone. 

What do you think?

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  • Phil Turnbull / 14 November 2016

    Teach the kids and most adults why the banks have the biggest buildings in any city, how fiat paper money is created out of thin air and issued as debt (interest) by the banks.

    How it's all one big rat race and casino with individuals being pressured to buy things they don't need, with money they don't have to impress they don't know.

    I remember my father telling me that if a person creates money its forgery, with a private company it's fraud but with a bank it's business.

  • helen do / 9 August 2015

    If financial education in schools isnt remembered you are teaching them the wrong way.