Counting the cost of self-promoting financial education
Financial education is one of those areas still deeply misunderstood by teachers. Four years ago I founded the PlanB Partnership, a financial advice and inclusion social enterprise, and have not yet had one booking from a teacher or school.
Several private nurseries have had the organisation in to talk to parents about issues such as welfare reform and changes to child maintenance, but we are yet to be asked to support our local state school pupils with lessons on money management. Why is this? Because when the people at the top of Curriculum for Excellence decided that students needed money skills they went with the easy option, the default setting. Now all schools get the same broad-brush and self-promoting presentation from big-name banks and credit card providers.
Real financial education must come from independent workers in the field, not private companies who simply want students to bank with them and take out a loan one day. It needs to have one overarching agenda: to teach young people about key financial problems, and the products and planning techniques that will protect their homes, relationships, health and incomes as they go through life.
Financial education should take students from cradle to grave, instructing them in everything from how a student loan works to drawing up a will and testament. It must be holistic and genuinely reflect the financial sector. If we can teach young people to have pride in frugality, as well as an understanding of how to avoid (and solve) debt problems, we will create fiscally resilient, cash-savvy adults.
Schools need to be more practical and start asking which local agencies offer financial inclusion sessions. Get off the fence, teachers. If you are not an active part of the solution then you are quite possibly a part of the problem.
Director and founder of The PlanB Partnership
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