Young Enterprise: Let's rethink financial literacy in chldren

Sharon Davies, Chief Executive Officer, Young Enterprise, sets our her vision
Sharon Davies

It is shocking, but not surprising that only 1% of UK primary school teachers think their pupils have ‘adequate’ financially literacy. This emphasises the need for the government to do more. Whilst many primary schools have recognised the importance of financial education, and are delivering provision, it is not a statutory part of the curriculum, as it is in secondary schools.

With a growing cashless society and increasingly sophisticated digital fraud, young people are vulnerable. We need to equip them with the knowledge and skills to develop responsible money habits and make more informed financial choices. This is particularly the case with the current pressures of higher inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, meaning a potentially greater impact of uninformed  financial decisions.

Research shows that financial habits begin to be formed by age seven, so primary school is the time to start. Young children may not encounter physical money anymore, so games such as ‘playing shop’ at school can be an excellent way of helping them understand the value of money, and the concept of a transaction. This helps counter confusion that may be caused,  watching their parents or carers receive cashback, giving the impression that the adult is receiving both goods and money from a supermarket.Furthermore, there are links between financial wellbeing, resilience and mental health1, suggesting that building the foundations for strong financial wellbeing from an early age through financial education can help equip them for positive mental health in the future.

Financial education empowers young people to make informed financial decisions helping them to navigate the financial challenges they may face more successfully as well as maximising opportunities to make their money work as hard as possible for them..

However, what’s clear is that teachers need more support, through being equipped, empowered and trained, to help them integrate financial education in a way that suits their setting and the needs of their pupils.Teachers know their students best and are experts in adapting content to engage them and meet their individual needs.There is an inconsistent provision across the country, often relying on the goodwill and passion of individual teachers amid high workloads and competing school priorities.

More support, from government, could take the form of improving CPD training for senior leaders and teachers, access to high quality resources and the support and recognition of schools and colleges championing financial education. Ideally, schools be in a position to provide young people with opportunities to apply their learning to real-world situations through financial contexts. And further, the Department for Education should play a key role in sharing good practice of schools who have embedded financial education across the curriculum.

It’s commonly assumed that maths lessons are the appropriate place to teach finance, but financial education can be embedded right across the educational experience, particularly in Citizenship or PHSE, but at Young Enterprise, we have also seen wonderful examples of how drama and geography lessons can be a vehicle for better understanding.

The critical role of schools in providing financial education cannot be undervalued. It is essential that all schools are supported to provide high-quality provision so that no young person is left behind because of their background in building a positive financial future. When equipped with the skills and knowledge to become financially capable, young people are not just better able to manage their money during their education but also more ready to enter the world of work.

Although it has been a statutory requirement for 9 years in secondary schools, implementation has not been consistent and therefore results have varied. We urge the next government to prioritise financial education, and establish greater consistency of delivery across secondary schools and making financial education a statutory part of the curriculum for primary schools.

At Young Enterprise, we work with many partners, including teachers, volunteers and businesses. We pride ourselves on our ability to create mutually beneficial partnerships, including with a network of corporate partners who work with us to help equip young people with the skills and confidence they need to access and thrive in employment. Our partners fund programmes, sponsor awards for students, provide job shadowing opportunities and encourage their workforce to volunteer with students.

By partnering with Young Enterprise, your business is helping to ensure every young person has the opportunity to contribute positively to society. To learn more about how we work with companies, please drop a line to corporate.partnerships@y-e.org.uk or visit the supporter page of our website https://www.young-enterprise.org.uk/home/get-involved/

Written by
Sharon Davies
Written by
May 30, 2024