To improve the work-readiness of the next generation, “technical” qualifications are now starting to sit alongside the existing A-level system. What this means for schools is that even more consideration will need to be given – and at an even earlier age – towards preparing their pupils for their life beyond the school gates, be it leaving to continue in full-time academic education, or considering a work-based apprenticeship, or technical pathway.
Chief among these, we believe, is financial education. The ability for young people to understand their finances, be able to plan for both the present and the future and confidently manage their money is one of the most important skills a young person can develop.
We are all, for instance, aware that many students run into financial difficulties at university either through mismanaging their loans and having to budget for the first time, or simply not understanding the terms and conditions set out in the small print, regarding repayment and interest.
But, as our work with schools – we provide financial capability qualifications to more than 35,000 teenagers across over 600 schools each year – shows, we know that the provision of financial education is falling far short of its intended objectives and leaving too many teenagers unprepared in facing their financial futures.
Although it has been a statutory part of the curriculum since September 2014, our research reveals that at GCSE level and below, a majority – 52 per cent – still do not receive any form of financial education. And among those that do, 79 per cent receive, on average, less than an hour a week of dedicated classroom time.
All of this collectively leads to a concerning range of outcomes; 61 per cent say they worry regularly about money, 35 per cent have never carried out a financial transaction of any sort, independently, while only 3 per cent have ever planned a budget. What hope then for those students looking to manage their student or maintenance loans?
While these are all big issues to tackle, we also know through our work in schools that it is, for the vast majority, not a case of a lack of will, but rather a lack of resources. In an overcrowded curriculum, how do we ensure financial education is given due prominence? How do we fund effective resources and programmes of study for schools to use/employ?
To meet the current restraints on teacher’s time and resources, our flexible programme LiFE (Lessons in Financial Education) is an accessible e-learning alternative. Students make their way through at their own pace with an online learning experience that requires minimal intervention from teaching/support staff.
And starting from just £10 per unit, it is the perfect way to ensure more students leave school with financial awareness.
Regardless of whether students ultimately decide to take an academic or a technical pathway, an effective programme of financial capability should sit at the very core of their educational development, at school, long before they choose which route suits them best.
For these new pathways to be a success we must empower schools to drive forward the key skills which they require and we will be lobbying the government to ensure they do.
Start delivering financial education today, visit libf.ac.uk/fc.