Report calls on government to ‘bolster’ financial education subject for those in primary, secondary and post-16 education

Ten years after financial education was added to the national curriculum, an Education Committee report calls on the government to bolster the subject in primary and secondary schools and at post-16 level.

Widely supported by politicians of all parties, as well as financial institutions, academics, trade unions and campaigners such as broadcaster Martin Lewis, financial education gives pupils knowledge to make decisions with their money.

It can cover a wide range of skills from reading a payslip, understanding the impact of money on relationships, awareness of online scams and judging financial risks.

The cross-party committee’s report makes recommendations to the Department for Education (DfE) on:

  • Expanding financial education at primary school level
  • Encouraging schools to appoint financial education coordinators
  • Improving access to quality learning materials
  • How the subject could become a key component of the government’s proposal for all 16-18-year-olds to study maths

Financial education has formally been part of the national curriculum since 2014, meaning it is required to be taught in local authority-run schools as part of the maths curriculum at primary and secondary level, and through citizenship studies from ages 11-16.

Schools also have the option to include it in personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE). The committee heard that many schools find it hard to prioritise areas of financial education beyond basic concepts such as calculations using money and that despite it having been part of the curriculum for over a decade, many teachers lack confidence in delivering its content. 

Experts told the committee that effective financial education should begin early to adequately prepare children for the fast-changing financial world in which they increasingly participate.

Through the committee’s screen time inquiry, they heard that young children are increasingly being exposed to apps that require subscriptions, financial pressures and adverts for get rich quick schemes.

MPs conclude that building a strong foundation for financial education at primary school would also ensure that, as children develop their cognitive abilities and a sense of delayed gratification, they will do so informed by good financial practice.

The committee also said that access to training and development would improve teachers’ confidence and proficiency to deliver financial education. But a 2023 Ofsted survey of teachers found that 87% saw “workload pressures” as the biggest obstacle to career development. 73% said “availability of staff to cover my lessons”.

The committee said DfE should ensure training in financial education is available to all teachers beginning their careers through initial teacher training provision, and that continued professional development opportunities and subject knowledge enhancement (SKE) in financial education are available and accessible for all teachers.

They said the department should ensure appropriate financial education options are included in both the Early Career Framework and national professional qualification (NPQ) courses.

Responding to the report, Sarah Hannafin, head of policy at school leaders’ union NAHT, who gave evidence to the committee inquiry, said: “Schools want to provide the children with a broad and balanced curriculum which prepares them for the opportunities and responsibilities of adulthood.

“Financial education is a crucial part of that as it can help protect children from the harm caused by everything from gambling and scams to in-game purchases and online exploitation. Financial wellbeing is also vital in supporting children and young people’s mental health.

“However, it can already be challenging for schools to cover the National Curriculum and qualification specifications in the time available, and this is exacerbated by government policies and high stakes accountability measures focusing on particular subjects.

“While we welcome the recommendations for improved training for teachers and support to access high-quality learning resources, any expansion of financial education in the ways suggested must be accompanied by a formal review of the curriculum and qualification offer.

“Currently the curriculum is overcrowded and unmanageable – the content must be reduced to create the curriculum time needed to deliver this.”

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