Stashing cash, not stealing it appeals to young financiers

29th October 2010 at 01:00
School bank where pupils work as tellers or in marketing helps them to use maths practically

Eleven-year-old Jamie Mullholland has made a career decision. "I don't ever want to be a robber," he says, before explaining to me the purple dye technique banks use for stolen bank notes. "I want to work in a bank instead."

Nicole Doherty fancies the uniform - not today's Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) T-shirt, but the full blue uniform.

Both have already taken their first steps into the world of banking with the official opening of the school bank at Wellshot Primary in Glasgow this month.

Twelve P7 pupils have been trained up as tellers by Linda Bardelli, MoneySense adviser with RBS. The school bank is open once a week, on a Tuesday afternoon, and provides banking services for P4-7 pupils, taking deposits from as little as 20p upwards.

Last year, the school was looking at improving financial education and had a finance week for all the classes. At that point, they had heard of the MoneySense scheme and liked the idea of saving and planning, says depute headteacher Tina Stoddart, so they contacted Ms Bardelli.

"We also went to another school which was doing it, Calderbank Primary in Summerston. They had run it for a year and they let us see it and speak to the pupils," says Ms Stoddart. "We then sent letters out to parents and they thought it was a good idea."

Twelve pupils showed a keen interest and so were picked. Maths ability was not considered.

"The group is of mixed ability. It is not necessarily about being good at maths. Some children are good at maths but need help with self-esteem," explains P7 teacher Kathleeen Cant.

While the mental maths practice is an obvious benefit, it has proved to be a good basis for a class project.

"The others are involved in marketing, making posters and advertising," says Ms Stoddart. "They speak about it at assembly and tell other children about the bank.

"All have a sense of being involved. It is a lifelong skill. It fits into money finance, it is contextualised learning, putting maths into a real- life context. There are so many other skills involved - personal and social development, communication, writing and language."

More than 70 pupils in P4-7 have accounts. Ms Bardelli came to the school to do a PowerPoint presentation about banks and savings. She also trained the tellers in the various roles involved. The trial session prior to opening went well and the bank took in pound;153.

Interest is paid, but it is the "points mean prizes" aspect that enthuses the children. They can barely contain their excitement as they show me the list of gifts for which they can save with the tokens they receive. For each pound;5 deposited, they receive one token, and these can buy them a variety of gifts from a set of pencils to a money box.

Excited chatter ensues as children compare notes about what they will use their tokens for. This leads to discussion about what they are saving their money for.

Taylor Jack, 11, is saving up to go to Glencoe, while Kieran McCuie, 10, is saving up for birthdays. But they are also wise enough to know that this is a great opportunity.

"It will look good on my report card for high school," says Taylor.

Kieran is looking further into the future. "It means when you go into a bank when you are older, you will know what you are doing," he says.

On several occasions Ms Stoddart talks about the buzz that the school has on bank days.

"The children are so enthusiastic about it," adds Miss Cant. "It is great fun and we are glad of the help RBS has given us."

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