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Why we need to teach school kids about money NOW

schoolchildrenWhat are your kids doing at school at the moment? Mine seems to be playing a lot of rounders but not much else. It was the same when I was young: you don’t really do anything at school in the few weeks before the summer break.

So why not fill the time with something actually useful: a skill that arguably will benefit them far more in adulthood than being able to recite French verbs or explain Brownian motion. Learning about money is interesting: after all, kids like spending the stuff so isn’t it a good idea to teach them how to look after it?
Currently, financial education isn’t on the National Curriculum for primary education. My son certainly didn’t get any at primary school – actually, he hasn’t had any yet at senior school as far as I know. I guess it will be covered eventually in PSHE – and it’s probably almost as important as sex education which seems to be what they usually do in it.

And if you think teaching money to young children is a waste of time, then an influential study just out may change your mind. Research group Substance studied 1,444 seven to 11 year olds over a year whose schools are participating in programmes with charity MyBnk as part of a Money Advice Service project. It found that thanks to the programme, the children could understand the point of saving money; they knew how to budget, what banks do and how to recognise the consequences of financial decisions. The figures are stunning: the study found that after these children had financial education, 91% opted to defer gratification (I guess by choosing to save before buying something rather than borrowing). Seven out of 10 said they wanted to save for a particular goal. And more than two thirds of them knew what it means to budget. Frankly, I know some adults who could benefit from financial education...

It would be brilliant if financial education could be part of the primary curriculum. But I’d also like it to be treated as a proper subject at senior school level. Let’s have lessons – and exams too – in Practical Maths. Arguably, it would give our children a much more useful skill than learning about religion: and RE is part of the curriculum. And it might be more popular too...

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Wednesday, 22 May 2019