Evaluation Scotland Wales

Only four in ten children and young people say they’ve had some financial education at school

Schools

View in Welsh / Edrychwch ar y dudalen hon yn Gymraeg

  • Children and young people who say they had financial education at school are more likely to have good money skills
  • Only 4 in 10 children and young people say they’ve had some financial education at school
  • Many schools and colleges would like to increase their financial education offer but they are hindered by a busy timetable and curriculum and a lack of skills and knowledge.

Good financial education at school gives children and young people the skills they need to make the most of their money, plan for the future and avoid getting into problem debt or experiencing financial exploitation.

Why financial education matters

We know that learning about money at school makes a difference to your students. Research shows that children and young people who report having had some financial education at school are more likely to:

  • save up frequently
  • have a bank account, and
  • be confident managing their money.

Children and young people themselves say that their financial education helps.

How to incorporate financial education into the existing curriculum

Good quality financial education can also enhance your school’s existing curriculum. It can be incorporated into personal development and citizenship subjects, helping your students to become well-rounded members of their community, enjoy life and stay safe. It can help to bring subjects like maths to life, making the learning relevant to students’ everyday lives. It can enhance careers education and learning for work, ensuring students are prepared to understand and manage their income.

However, we can do more to give children and young people the best start possible. Many schools and colleges would like to increase their offer but that they need help to do so. The quality of financial education in schools across the UK is inconsistent, and teachers delivering the subject do not always have the confidence, skills and tools that they need. Evidence also shows that current financial education in schools does not close the money skills gap between vulnerable children and young people and their peers.

Next steps and resources

School staff have a vital role to play in ensuring that children and young people develop the skills they need to be financially capable and thrive as they gain their independence. When children and young people do receive financial education, we know it makes a difference.

So what can you do next?

Tips for good financial education

  • Start early. Evidence tells us that children’s attitudes about money are well developed by the age of seven. So, incorporate learning about the world of money into your teaching from pre-school upwards
  • Put learning into practice. Providing pupils with a combination of in-class and experiential learning has been shown to be most effective. You could organise a school savings bank, support groups of students to open bank accounts or give children the opportunity to manage a budget
  • Make the most of everyday events. Financial education can be particularly effective if it coincides with an opportunity for the young person to put it into practice. For example, more detailed learning about banks and saving could coincide with students approaching the age of 11 when they can open an account
  • Involve parents and carers. As in other areas of learning, school-based financial education will be most successful when parents are engaged too. Invite parents to get involved in experiential financial learning activities, or encourage students and parents to develop their learning together at home. Find out more about how parents can improve their children’s money skills.

Measure your success

Our resources help you to measure the results of your financial education, so that you can improve and refine it over time.

Financial education on the curriculum

Every nation in the UK has its own school curriculum incorporating financial education differently and to differing degrees. Learn more about how each nations’ schools are expected to develop their students’ financial capability below.

England

In England, financial education is included in the national curriculum in secondary schools only, as part of citizenship and maths.

  • Pupils should be taught about the functions and uses of money, budgeting, managing risk, credit and debt, insurance, savings and pensions, financial services and applying maths to financial contexts (such as calculating interest).
  • While specific financial education is not a requirement in primary schools, the maths curriculum does include some learning about money (such as understanding £ and p, using coins and calculating change).
  • All schools are expected to deliver personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education, including some financial education, using guidance provided by the PSHE Association.

It should be noted that England’s national curriculum only applies to schools maintained by local authorities. Academies and free schools (making up 35% of schools in England) have the freedom to shape their own curriculum, but many will draw on the national curriculum.

Read more about England’s school curriculum.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, financial capability is included in the national curriculum from age 4 to 14, mainly through maths and numeracy.

  • By the end of primary school (age 11), pupils should be able to make calculations with money, and have learned about keeping money safe, budgeting and saving, planning ahead and making spending choices.
  • By age 14, secondary school students should be able to demonstrate financial capability in everyday contexts, using their maths skills to learn about personal finance and financial decision-making.
  • There are also elements of financial education in other secondary school subjects, including learning for life and work, modern languages and even music.

The Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment has a dedicated microsite with lots of ideas for weaving financial education through the whole curriculum.

Read more about Northern Ireland’s curriculum.

Scotland

In Scotland, financial capability is included in the broad general education phase curriculum for students aged 3 to 14 years, primarily in maths and numeracy across learning.

  • By age 11, students should have developed awareness of how money is used, learned how to calculate change, manage money, budget and compare costs, and understood the costs and benefits of using bank cards.
  • By age 14, students should have learned about value for money (including in the context of contracts and services), more advanced budgeting, credit and debt, earnings and taxes and comparing and choosing personal finance products.
  • Financial education is also part of the social studies curriculum mainly as part of learning about business and enterprise, covering topics like shops and services, ethical trading, paying for essential goods, budgeting, saving, borrowing and finance for business.
  • In the senior phase (ages 15-18), it is expected that all National Qualifications help to develop students’ numeracy and skills for learning, life and work.

Read more about Scotland’s school curriculum.

Wales

In Wales, financial education is included in the curriculum in both primary and secondary schools as part of Mathematical Development and Personal and Social Education.

  • By the end of primary school (age 11), pupils should have learned to do calculations using money, understand the use of £ and p, and be able to compare costs and budget, plan and track money and savings, calculate profit and loss, and assess value for money.
  • By age 16, they should know about different currencies and exchange rates, be able to carry out more complex calculations (such as compound interest), know how to compare and choose financial products and have practiced managing household budgets.
  • In personal and social education, students learn about how money is earned and the importance of saving and looking after your money.
  • The National Literacy and Numeracy Frameworks, which help teachers embed reading and maths across all curriculum areas, also includes learner outcomes relating to managing money.

A dedicated training pack and financial education guidance aims to help teachers deliver effective financial education.

The Welsh Government is currently developing a new school curriculum which will be rolled out from 2022.

Read more about the current school curriculum in Wales.

Find out more

Explore the research into effective financial education in our Evidence Hubopens in new window, or get in touch with us at cyp@fincap.org.uk.