Spend or save: pupils make pennies count

Su Clark

It is 10am on Thursday and all 800 pupils at Lockerbie Academy are filing into personal and social education with their registration teacher. They may be in separate classes and the content under discussion may differ, but every pupil is progressing through the same curriculum at the same time.

Genia Cotter, the principal teacher of information technology and technical studies, explains. "We have the blood donor people in to talk to S5 and S6, the police come to talk about drugs and the nurse comes to talk about health. Businesses and organisations see being able to reach all pupils in one visit as an advantage."

The school also brings in speakers to talk about money as part of its programme of financial education. Most Thursdays, a representative from the Royal Bank of Scotland visits classes or mixed groups to focus on banking and financial management. But the RBS contribution is just part of a comprehensive programme.

Over the past two years the school has been consolidating its financial education, piloting resources or courses with single year groups before introducing them to other years.

A programme developed by Angela Anderson, the principal teacher of pupil support, and Dorothy Young, a pupil support teacher, has been woven into the PSE curriculum, ensuring every pupil has an opportunity to learn about money management before the end of S4, with further study of student debt in the senior school.

"At a recent training day, the local authority was talking about financial education. I found we were already doing much of what they suggested," said Mrs Cotter.

When the school was approached by the RBS offering free financial education from one of its experts, it was able to take advantage of the offer and slot it straight into the programme.

The RBS representative, Alison Carruthers, divides her Thursdays across the school from S2 up. She explains personal banking including opening an account, writing cheques and setting up standing orders and direct debits.

Student feedback is positive.

"When Mrs Carruthers came from the Royal Bank of Scotland, I thought, oh no, another boring talk about money management, but it was quite interesting," admits Ayesha Laurie from S3. "We learned how to fill in cheques, to use debit cards and to manage our money."

In S3, pupils will work through Learning and Teaching Scotland's program Life Skills - Traveller's Cheque. To get money for their virtual holiday they have to answer questions on financial management and ensure they have enough to pay the rent and buy food before they jet off to the sun.

"It was fun," says Ayesha. "You could go shopping, open a bank account and book a holiday. It was easy to understand because it was a real situation.

It was difficult managing your money, as you had to pay rent and book a holiday, I had no money by the end."

Jenna Peters, also in S3, was equally poor. "Using this computer program helps you to realise how fast money goes."

Mrs Anderson is hoping to harvest further expertise from Dumfries and Galloway Council by bringing in someone from its financial department to talk to S4 and S5 leavers about taxation.

For S5, the school has support from the Office of Fair Trading and the Financial Services Authority. Using resources and advice from these organisations, a six-week course has been developed for S5 in money management and consumer education, which covers shopping and consumer rights, credit and borrowing, assessment of risk and more.

The school also uses the help on offer from the Stewart Ivory Foundation, an organisation set up in 2001 to further the development of financial education in Scotland. The foundation's focus is related mainly to investment management, but for Lockerbie Academy's S6 it is going to look at student budgeting, preparing for college and debt management.

Financial education isn't restricted to PSE. In ICT and business studies in S2 there are courses covering money management, petty cash, budgeting, wages (basic and overtime) and even working out exchange rates.

Financial education also comes into Young Enterprise for S6. Outside speakers from the Financial Education Partnership make it more interesting and the organisation covers setting up businesses to marketing.

Su Clark

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Su Clark

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