One in five financial education teachers are not confident teaching the topic

Secondary school teachers overwhelmingly consider financial education important, but many lack the confidence to teach the topic.

This is according to new research commissioned by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People and funded by Martin Lewis OBE (founder of MoneySavingExpert.com), which conducted a survey of secondary school teachers to investigate the reach and effectiveness of financial education in schools. The report; “Two Years On; Job Done?” focuses on the current state of play in England, two years after financial education was made statutory at secondary level.

The survey found that 19% of those teachers currently involved in financial education are still unconfident about teaching it, with only 17% of schools having received training or advice on teaching the topic.

The majority of respondents indicated that more needs to be done to support teachers, with 58% stating that they would like to receive more training in delivering financial education.

Additionally, 69% of teachers suggested that it would be helpful for each school to have a lead teacher for financial education who could champion the subject, while 65% believe that schools need outside support to teach financial education well.

In the UK, those aged 18-24 represent over 20% of the over-indebted population of the UK and a third of young adults find themselves in this situation. The average debt-to-income ratio for 17- 24 year olds now stands at nearly 70% and serves as a stark reminder of the need for improved financial education for young people in the UK.

Other key findings from the report include:

  • Financial education remains a low priority in schools: A quarter (25%) of teachers stated that financial education is either a low priority or not a priority in their school. The status of financial education in secondary schools seems not to have increased significantly after being added to the statutory Maths and Citizenship curriculum in September 2014, with 42% of teachers revealing there had been no change in the emphasis put on the topic in their school.
  • Financial education needs to start earlier: Two thirds (66%) of teachers believe that financial education should start in primary school, with 63% stating that it would be helpful for students to arrive in Year 7 with some understanding of financial matters.
  • Life skills for students need to be of greater priority to government: 95% of secondary school teachers believe that financial education is important. However, 77% believe that life skills, including financial education, need to be of greater priority for government.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group report on Financial Education for Young People has been produced following evidence sessions from several organisations from across the financial services, financial capability and education sectors in four evidence sessions in parliament.  Among several recommendations, the report calls for statutory financial education to be extended to primary level and for Ofsted inspections to more explicitly address the extent to which schools provide young people with financial knowledge and skills.  Improving teacher confidence is also addressed in the report, with a call for the Department for Education to ensure that new teachers learn about financial education during their initial teacher training.

This inquiry was chaired by Suella Fernandes MP, while the overall APPG is chaired by Mark Garnier MP. The report is being launched at the APPG event in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 23rd May, where Sarah Willingham, star of the BBC’s Dragon Den, will also be speaking.

Suella Fernandes MP said: “With the rapid growth in opportunities for young people to spend money on a daily basis, it is vital that our education system provides them with the knowledge and skills to navigate the financial challenges they face both now and in later life. While much good practice exists, our inquiry has found provision of financial education across the country to be patchy. Closing these gaps is vital if we are to make headway in improving young people’s life chances.”

Michael Mercieca, CEO of Young Enterprise said: “Poor levels of financial literacy can prevent young people from fulfilling their potential and could lead to debt or unemployment, and have a detrimental impact on their mental health. Despite financial education now being part of the statutory secondary curriculum, the research shows that the government should encourage the importance of financial education in schools and support organisations that provide the resources needed to assist and train teachers to confidently deliver it.”

Caroline Rookes, Chief Executive of the Money Advice Service, (who kindly provided funds to support the inquiry) said: “We welcome the APPG’s report and the continuing efforts to make meaningful, positive changes to the approach to financial education among young people. Low levels of financial capability remain a problem – the 2015 Financial Capability Survey showed us that around four in ten adults are not in control of their finances and that four in ten have less than £500 in savings. If we can support children and young people so that they receive a financial education that works, we can significantly reduce people’s likelihood of becoming over-indebted and instead help them flourish in their money management in later life.”

Sarah Willingham, consumer champion, BBC Dragon and mum of four said: “Research tells us that children’s relationship with money is shaped from as young as 7 years old and so for many the current provision in the secondary level curriculum may be coming too late.  We would all like to think and see children benefit from the lessons learnt by the preceding generations but when it comes to money management this doesn’t seem to be happening. There have been some great first steps but more needs to be done.”

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