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What is School For? 

Early in September 2018 the Big Issue focused its attention on education with its issue Class Action – What’s school for?  Its editorial covered a wide range of subjects from comparison with the education in Finland to the 1997 Labour Government focus on Education, Education, Education, and the rise in popularity of Home Education.  Its article “Teaching our way out of the debt crisis” mentioned that the UK is below average at teaching financial education, coming 15th out of 30 in an OECD league table and that 50% of parents want more financial education for their children and are happy if time on other core national curriculum subjects is reduced to accommodate this.  Clearly there is room for improvement as the debt crisis continues to grow in the UK.

Liam Geraghty, who wrote the article, said “In theory kids should leave school fully prepared for the wider world – financial education has been on the national curriculum in England and Wales since 2014.” But he then asks “Is the information delivered in classrooms enough to keep heads above water?”

Answering that question was Russell Winnard from “leading financial education charity Young Enterprise” who said “No, it’s not.”

He added “I think the slightly unfortunate news is that putting financial education into the national curriculum has not made any substantial difference.  The academisation of schools [almost a third of state schools have become academies] has had an impact – academies don’t have to follow the national curriculum.

“It’s also about what national curriculum we give to schools and winning the hearts and minds of teachers, because education is about preparing our young people for the next state of life and the world of work.”

The article went on to talk about the work of MyBnk a charity that provided workshops on financial education for 26,000 young people last year from the age of seven to vulnerable adults aged up to 25, mainly in the London area.  This programme is now mandatory for care leavers in some London boroughs.  Attendees are three times less likely to fall into rent arrears than their peers and none of the attendees has been evicted, according to their survey.

Another development is in Apps including one called RoosterMoney which aims to tap into kids’ tech savvy to track their income to help them make responsible for purchase decisions from as young as four.

Apparently while financial education is a part of the national curriculum in citizenship it is not part of the exam so where league tables matter most it gets squeezed out.

The all-party parliamentary group on financial education found in 2016 that that almost a fifth of teachers involved in teaching are not confident in the subject. Clearly more work needs to be done there too.

Having the final word in the article, Russell Winnard said “When you come out of school and you all of a sudden have access to a range of products on offer, it can be really confusing and hard to find out what is best to do. The news you see of people who can’t cope in that situation can be truly devastating.  It’s an important area for young people because the mistakes that they can fall into can have serious consequences.”

Whilst the Young Enterprise Company programme was not mentioned in the article, being part of the programme for most of a school year at a critical time in a young person’s education does not just benefit the person who takes on the role of Financial Director but everyone in the company learns about financing of the business and learns budgeting, together with many other new skills they will need in the world of work.

Further information on the Company programme can be obtained at www.yeew.org.uk or from Martyn Billing, the Chair of Young Enterprise in Eastbourne & Wealden on 01323 487330 / 07721 058409 / martyn@calibremarketing.co.uk.