Financial Education still being left to chance


A new report reveals the planned delivery of financial education through Maths and Citizenship is unlikely to be as effective as through a standalone subject.

The “Young Persons’ Money Index” released by financial education specialist ifs University College reveals that financial education currently delivered through wider subjects is often piecemeal, unstructured and has no real impact on financial decision making among teenagers.

From September schools following the national curriculum will be obliged to provide lessons in finance through Maths and Citizenship, but, as the report finds, students currently learning about finance through these ways are likely to be less confident, less financially active and likely to have had the fewest hours of classroom time covering finance.

Those learning about finance through Citizenship are the least confident in their financial knowledge with more than a third (35 per cent) saying they didn’t feel they had enough knowledge to manage their money, while Citizenship and maths students are more likely to have been in debt (54 per cent) compared to those who have had no financial education at all (52 per cent).

Students learning about finance through Citizenship and Maths are also no more likely to have opened a bank account (42 per cent), saved to buy an expensive item (51 per cent) or researched different financial products (11 per cent) with those who have had zero financial education. Maths students were found to be even less likely (15 per cent) to have planned a budget than those with no financial education (18 per cent).

Alison Pask, Vice Principal at ifs University College said: “The planned inclusion of personal finance into the national curriculum through Maths and Citizenship from September 2014 is clearly already a positive step, but the curricula in both of these subjects  are very crowded which raises questions as to how much money and finance content can be incorporated – and how effectively.”

The research found that the more structured financial education a student receives the greater levels of financial understanding and accompanying “positive” behaviours they demonstrate. Students who have taken dedicated personal finance qualifications are more likely to be confident in managing money, less likely to rely on their parents to make financial decisions and more likely to save.

“What is clear is that for financial education to succeed, it needs to be structured, regular and meaningful. Our report should be seen as a warning on the dangers of delivering it in a piecemeal and unstructured fashion. Otherwise we are leaving our students’ financial futures to chance.”

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