APPG Report on Financial Education – Systemic issues will remain

Issues of teacher confidence, competency and ad-hoc provision will unfortunately remain.

We are a long way away from almost two years ago when compulsory financial education in Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEE) was dropped from the Children, Schools and Families Bill.

The Chairman of the APPG, Justin Tomlinson MP, report leader Andrew Percy MP, Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG) and Martin Lewis of Money Saving Expert have done an amazing job raising the profile of financial education.

MyBnk has always supported the principal of teacher-led, compulsory financial education – it can help guarantee quality and ensure every young person benefits from money lessons.

We welcome the proposed model – making personal finance a compulsory element of PSHEE and applying financial numeracy in Maths up to GCSE level, as well as giving responsibility for this area to senior school leaders. We hope these recommendations see financial education become more structured and lessons taken more seriously.

Concerns

Outside providers, like MyBnk, have a huge role to play in supporting schools and teachers who want to deliver financial education – but we feel these efforts have been given scant recognition in this report.

The study itself shows that teachers want outside expertise. When asked in APPG survey: “what would help make financial education sustainable in your school?” nearly half of teachers responded: outside provision.

We have long-held concerns about financial institutions entering schools with branded resources and as an independent organisation, MyBnk are pleased the report notes this. MyBnk are open to the idea of an independently assessed quality ‘kite mark’ for external providers, though in four years of delivery not a single school has asked us to provide one.

On the specific recommendations:

We back making mathematics more relevant to real life and contextualising content.

MyBnk supports the Smith Report and Maths Review recommendations of a duel Maths GCSE, but the APPG proposal only guarantees that young people up to 16 benefit. Maths becomes an optional subject post GCSEs, even though the school-leaving age is being raised to 18 in 2013, the opportunity to impart money lessons post 16 may be missed. Last year about 85 per cent of students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland gave up maths after GCSE.

MyBnk are concerned that the proposal for placing financial numeracy in Maths may lead to too a narrow understanding of the subject – for example young people may know how to calculate the interest on a loan. but not what happens if you don’t pay it back.

Making financial education a compulsory element of PSHEE is a positive move, but it remains an optional part of the curriculum for pupils.

In addition, Academies and Free Schools can opt out of teaching it altogether, bypassing any financial education. These proposals risk leaving many young people behind.

Compulsory money lessons at various transitional stages of a young person’s life would ensure the knowledge is relevant and increase retention.

MyBnk would have liked to have seen the report place more emphasis on the importance of behavioural change in a young person’s relationship with money by facilitating access to saving accounts and creating a culture of saving from a young age. In our proposals, we cited our youth-led microfinance scheme as a model for embedding sound financial habits.

Whatever changes are made to the national curriculum we will continue delivering direct, engaging and expert led financial and enterprise education.

Demand for MyBnk programmes, developed with young people, teachers, financial experts and youth workers, has doubled each year.

The need is being recognised and we will continue to deliver to young people inside and outside of schools and support teachers to act cross-curricular and map into Maths, Business Studies, PSHEE, Enterprise and off-timetable days.

Congratulations to everyone involved in the APPG for making a sound contribution to the future of financial education for young people in the UK.

We look forward to continuing working together to reach our common goal.

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