MPs launch inquiry into UK financial education
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This article is the latest part of the FT’s Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign
The UK’s failures in teaching financial education will be the focus of an investigation by MPs, as they increase pressure on the government to strengthen provision in schools.
Robin Walker, chair of the House of Commons education select committee, said on Wednesday that MPs would explore how financial education could be better incorporated in the national curriculum. He said much of the current teaching on the subject was not reaching students.
Confidence with basic numeracy is at a low level among young people at a time when households face the financial strains of high inflation and difficulties managing budgets.
“With families and young people continuing to feel cost-of-living pressures, the case for equipping children of all backgrounds with the life skills and knowledge to help manage their money feels as strong and timely as ever,” said Walker, a Conservative MP and former schools minister.
The formal review will add to pressure on the government from charities and other organisations urging a radical rethink of financial education in Britain.
Walker said the committee would assess how boosting provision at primary school level could feed into Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to make maths a mandatory subject for post-16 students.
He added: “Teaching people how to manage interest on a debt for example, might be more important than some of the academic content that’s currently in GCSEs.”
Financial education was added to the curriculum for local authority-run secondary schools in 2014. However, it is largely incorporated in non-core subjects such as citizenship, which are less of a priority for students’ academic progression. The subject is also optional for academies and free schools.
The committee said there was broad agreement that the curriculum and current provision needed to be reviewed.
Several charities including the FT’s Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign (Flic) have pressed the government for proper provision of financial education.
“Teachers have to prepare youngsters for new financial threats and opportunities that they might not have experienced themselves,” said Aimée Allam, FT Flic’s executive director. She said pressure on teachers and a lack of curriculum time prevented adequate provision.
Two-thirds of teachers said there was insufficient time or resources to fit financial education into the school year, according to a Teacher Tapp survey in 2022. Teachers also raised concerns over subject expertise and financial education not being a priority in schools.
MyBnk, an education charity, previously called for 30 hours of financial education each year to 11- to 18-year-olds. It said this would boost money management and practical maths skills.
About 43 per cent of girls and young women aged between 11-25 were not financially confident, according to a MyBnk survey. The figure for boys and young men was 61 per cent.
“There’s a maturing of financial education. It should really be cross-curricular and woven into a child’s life at any juncture possible,” said Leon Ward, MyBnk chief executive. He said patchy provision was a impediment to boosting confidence.
Letters in response to this report:
Teachers need support to boost financial education / From Sharon Davies, Chief Executive, Young Enterprise, London WC1N, UK