…where all children are given equal opportunity to prosper in an ever complex and changing financial world
We’re not far off but we need to change the way we educate our children in their early years
Authored by Sarah Willingham, BBC Dragon, Consumer Champion and Mum of Four
Financial education for young people is something of a hot topic at the moment, and it’s really no surprise when you consider that 9 Million people in the UK struggle with problem debt totalling £1.47 Trillion! 20% of these people are between the ages of 18 and 24, and the problem isn’t getting any better. Worse still, there are 2.5 Million children living in families with problem debt, and I think this really hurts their chances of staying out of debt themselves when they get older.
As a parent and campaigner for financial education, I believe passionately that not enough is being done to tackle the problem of personal debt or to address the low levels of financial education in the UK. This week I was asked to deliver a speech on the subject at the launch of a report into the effectiveness of financial education.
Financial education needs to start early
It’s absolutely vital that we educate our kids about money from a young age – because that’s when it counts! Children’s money habits are set from as young as 7 – and I can certainly vouch for that from my own personal experiences. Between the ages of 5 and 9 is when we as a society have an enormous influencing our children’s minds and perceptions.
My mission is to see financial education being part of the primary school curriculum, and to support this agenda, on Monday 23rd May, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People released a report, ‘Financial Education in Schools: Two Years on – Job Done?’. The report came out of a six-month parliamentary inquiry into how we can better equip our children with the skills, knowledge and confidence they need in money matters to better navigate financial decisions in later life.
The report found that teachers are lacking support and resources, in the form of training and materials, to educate children on good money management skills.
Financial education still remains a low priority in schools, despite the effects it has on the economy. Children’s education on money matters needs to start earlier and this issue must be of greater priority to government.
I spent a large part of last year visiting a number of schools, meeting with parents to understand how they feel about teaching their kids good money skills and what they would like to see. Almost all of those I spoke to asked for help!
Research from Experian found that a lack of knowledge, time, confidence and resources prevent parents from taking an active role in teaching their kids good money skills.
Yet further research from Experian showed that children born in the new millennium who enjoy a positive parental influence have around twice the savings and half the debt as those who don’t.
This proves that those children that have parents who are unwilling or unable to support financial education are at a distinct disadvantage. This risk can be mitigated by making financial education, which is delivered effectively, a compulsory element of both the primary and secondary curricula.
It’s never too early to start teaching our children good money management but… it can be too late!!!
Teachers do need support – such as training and access to resources that will help them deliver effective financial education to our children but it’s not just down to them.
Financial education can be and should also be taught from home. As parents, we need to be telling our children the value of money. On the weekly shop, show them the difference in price of products and get them to earn their pocket money.
As a society we have to act, and work, together to get this issue higher on the government agenda and ensure our kids are getting the financial education they need to help them prosper in later life.
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