Dividends of lessons in prudence

12th December 2008 at 00:00
Financial education is as relevant as teaching about health and wellbeing

Better financial education in schools could not prevent the global credit crunch, but it might have reduced the number of victims and their worries, a financial education conference heard.

Scotland was the first country in the UK to publish guidance to schools about personal financial education in the 1990s, but Maureen Watt, the Minister for Schools and Skills, urged schools not to rest on their laurels.

According to Chris Pond, director of financial capability at the Financial Services Authority, recent research showed many Scots believed they would have coped better with money matters if they had more financial education in school.

"We can't do much for the families in Christmas Present, but perhaps we can do something for them in Christmas Future," he said.

Nick Prettejohn, the chief executive of Prudential UK and Europe, said there is one certainty in today's volatile world: the need for the right financial skills.

"Personal financial decisions are always complicated, as they were in the so-called bull market we enjoyed and as they are even more so now in this bear market," he told the Edinburgh conference, which was hosted by Learning and Teaching Scotland.

It was the responsibility of all teachers to teach financial education, according to Jim Lally, director of the Scottish Centre for Financial Education, who suggested it was even relevant to lessons on health and wellbeing.

"We have heard that parents argue in the home about family finances, and we also know that unemployment leads to stress," he said. "All of these things impact on mental health."

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