Financial education: Kids are being shortchanged
Kids in the UK are still struggling to get a decent financial education.
Kids who don’t get a decent financial education are being shortchanged. That’s the conclusion of a report published recently by Finder in the UK.
Even though financial education has been part of the National Curriculum since 2014, kids are struggling to get meaningful lessons and parents are trying to fill the gap; 2 in 3 young people say they get most of their financial understanding from their parents or family, according to recent research from the London Institute of Banking & Finance.
But less than half of parents are confident they can teach their children about key money topics such as explaining APR or the base rate, a recent Finder survey of 1,007 parents showed.
The impact of missing out on financial education is stark – it makes people more likely to be unemployed or earn less, according to research by kids’ debit card brand GoHenry. Alongside this, such people tend to have poor financial resilience, meaning they have little or no savings, and could quickly find themselves in difficulty if they suffer a financial shock.
What do children need to learn?
According to research from Cambridge University, children form their attitudes towards money by the age of 7.
While many people think of financial education as, for example, teaching young kids to recognise coins for different amounts, experts that Finder spoke to believe kids also need to learn how to separate essential spending from non-essential spending, how to budget and, in older years, how to manage credit and debt.
The Financial Conduct Authority’s Financial Lives report in January 2023 showed that the number of adults who missed payments on domestic bills or missed meeting their credit commitments in 3 or more of the previous 6 months had increased by 1.4 million between May 2022 and January 2023.
What financial education do kids get now?
While financial education is part of the National Curriculum for secondary schools in England (the devolved nations go further and have it as part of primary as well), only about 20% of secondary schools are required to follow the curriculum. This is because around 80% are academies or free schools.
Organisations like Young Enterprise would love to see the government make financial literacy more of a priority subject. But as Finder’s report highlights, there’s a need for collaboration between schools, businesses, parents and the third sector to deliver financial education that will set kids up for life.
What is the government doing about it?
A recently published report by the UK parliament looked at how financial education is being delivered in schools and the pressure for change.
Meanwhile, Jerome Mayhew, the Conservative MP for Broadland in Norfolk, called for a greater effort in schools to teach children about personal finance. He suggested new approaches including the development of improved teaching assets and allowing schools access to accredited financial education training providers.
However, the only concrete action of late is the new mathematics curriculum which is intended to ensure young people leave school with an understanding of the skills they need for personal finance.
With continued pressure from MPs, the third sector and financial providers, we may see financial education in England being extended to primary schools and becoming mandatory as a subject for all schools.
About the author
Kate Steere is a deputy editor at Finder.com, specialising in banking and fintech. She has previously written for The Motley Fool UK and Fitch Solutions, where she covered a wide range of personal finance topics and kept a close eye on market trends. Kate is regularly quoted in the national media about banking, fintech and mortgages.