As you may be aware, the Government recently introduced financial education into the national curriculum and not before time. Many individuals and organisations campaigned tirelessly to achieve this integration but, six months in, it is worth assessing the impact of the relative progress that is being made. The following article gives a superb insight into the development, frustrations and concerns around delivering financial education in schools.
This article resonated with me, to the extent that I’m going to relate my own experiences of trying to help educate young people on matters financial.
Firstly, I would like to restate my belief that “education, at its basic level, is surely about ensuring that young people are given the necessary tools and skills to assimilate and operate effectively in modern society”. A good understanding of money on all sorts of levels must be a priority.
My concern is that education is becoming more and more sterile as children are funnelled and herded into ‘mainstream thinking’ centred on exam grades. This, of course, is reinforced by levels of education funding based on ‘success’.
Now, please don’t think I’m having a go at teachers, far from it; I used to be one myself, many moons ago. Teaching is not an easy job, with so many demands placed upon their time.
Ironically, bearing in mind my earlier comments, the only way to successfully integrate financial education into schools may be to test it!
Education is surely about ensuring that young people have the skills to operate in society.
It’s all about context
Many teachers have only operated within the educational sphere, first as a pupil and then student, before becoming a teacher. I know when I ‘popped out’ of the education system all those years ago, I was not prepared for ‘life outside’. Putting it bluntly, it was a shock… even more so because I then started life in the financial services world!
I distinctly remember taking an exam on pensions early on in my career, having had a lecture on the subject, only to be the last one in the room towards the end of the examination. The lecturer came over to me and asked why I was struggling. You see, the problem was that I was ‘spoon fed’ information to pass the exam but I didn’t have any context around the subject matter and couldn’t understand how it could be applied. It was a sterile experience!
We need to make sure this doesn’t happen in schools.
Teaching young people about money needs to be fun and, secondly, it needs to be relevant and have context.
A cultural problem
Financial advisers/planners have had limited success in working with schools and particularly with regards to helping teachers implement their financial education requirements. From our point of view at Blue Sky, we have never had a problem going into schools and, over the last seven years, have been into many. There is, however, a cultural problem.
Schools have generally deemed financial education to be less important and, certainly when ranked against their other demands, it is somewhere near the bottom of the list. The communication to parents, ahead of any presentations, tends to be poor. Invariably, this is also the case afterwards and the follow up work is ‘hit and miss’ at best. Yet, when I speak to our clients and we talk about their children and grandchildren, there is nothing that gets them nodding in agreement more than the need for young people to be taught about money management and how it can be applied to adult life.
Advisers/Planners are ideally placed to help
With the vast experience through having to explain sometimes complicated financial matters and then distil these into something that clients can understand, I think advisers/planners are ideally positioned to help teachers implement the new curriculum and so nurture our future generations. Over the years, we have also witnessed some of the mistakes people have made by not understanding how to apply some of the knowledge they’ve acquired into real life situations.
Financial education is a real passion of mine and I’m committed to helping wherever I can. One-off talks and seminars are all well and good, but on their own have little impact. What is required is a programme that instils good practice and beliefs on how to plan for the future. Peter Jordan, former Skandia head of proposition marketing, who left the industry to train as a teacher, states “doing a couple of lessons will not make much difference in a school year that can run for 38 weeks”.
What are we doing about it?
I must confess to some disappointment that, despite our willingness here at Blue Sky, we have struggled to gain the necessary traction to deliver a financial education programme. We are working with @DanBritton, author and Enterprise tutor but he said to me recently…
“It’s a tough gig trying to deliver financial education programmes in schools whilst such apathy exists”
Talking of gigs, we’re not giving in easily and, to demonstrate our commitment, yours truly has decided to be a ‘sacrificial lamb’ and sing a few songs in a charity concert that I have organised. Half of the money raised will be used to create a financial education programme for young people, delivered by @DanBritton (Personal Finance Academy), with the remainder earmarked for local breast cancer support charity, Pink Champagne.
We are also pleased to be running a silent auction for a holiday offered in one of a selection of luxury villas around the world courtesy of The Hideaways Club, one of our two sponsors for the concert. Our second sponsor is the prestigious The West Hants Club, located in the heart of Talbot Woods, Bournemouth.
Let’s hope that the cultural shift begins to gain momentum. However, we may have to wait until Ofsted gets more demanding in their expectations around financial education, before a more collaborative approach occurs. We are, therefore, aiming to launch our programme at the start of the new school year in October 2015.
If you would like to offer your support by buying a ticket, making a donation or entering our silent auction, it would be gratefully received. More details will follow in our next blog when we highlight the work undertaken by Pink Champagne.