Rise in interest rates

Making sense of money gets pupils' attention, says Jan Trebilcock

Discovering that the average hairdresser earns just pound;12,000 a year was an eye opener for Year 8 pupils at Hillview school for girls, a performing arts college in Tonbridge, Kent. The revelation came as part of a technology project in which pupils made spreadsheets comparing careers and average earnings of a variety of professions including teachers, doctors and builders. "The girls were quite shocked to find out about salary levels and it proved effective in getting them thinking of money in real terms," says Glynis Morgan, citizenship and personal, social and health education co-ordinator.

Hillview is introducing personal financial education across the curriculum in preparation for the Government's plans for functional maths in 2008.

Ten teachers from the school's maths, technology and PHSE departments have received four hours' free training from the Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg) on how to incorporate personal finance into the curriculum. It is now being introduced throughout the school. In Year 7 pupils talk about pocket money and the importance of saving. In Years 9 and 10 they look at how to accumulate money for larger purchases, projects or holiday spending money. And in Year 11 the real cost of leaving home, rent, utility bills, credit and debit cards and interest rates are explored.

"We are now looking at how to incorporate personal finance into the maths curriculum," says Ms Morgan. "And we are piloting a personal finance award with 20 maths pupils this year."

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has been promoting lessons in personal finance. But they are not just for secondary pupils. Pupils at Bell Lane primary in Little Chalfont, Buckinghamshire, have set up a school bank as part of their personal finance learning. It is run by Year 6 pupils and is open every day for 15 minutes at playtime. Children who open an account receive a bank book and account number and are encouraged to save for school trips and spending money for fundraisers.

Caroline Masters, deputy head and numeracy co-ordinator, has been teaching financial capability for two years to Years 4, 5, and 6, incorporating PHSE, citizenship and numeracy. She says: "The children elected a bank manager, deputy, advertising manager and two accountants, and other class members worked along in teams."

Children at the school have also been involved in mini-enterprise projects, such as making kites and biscuits to sell, to earn money for school journeys. "They are learning vital life skills," says Ms Masters

The details

Resources can be tailor-made to meet your school's needs, or you can find more aimed at primary and secondary pupils on www.pfeg.orgteachers.asp

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