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Now children are heading back to school, can we talk about personal finance?

08 June 2020

By Jessica Sena, Senior Executive

With the first children returning to school, albeit to a very different educational experience, core curriculum subjects such as Maths, English and Science will be taught in person once again.  Whilst these subjects will always be important, there’s one topic I believe all children need be more educated on: personal finance.

When I was at school, I spent hours in the classroom trying to get my head around Pythagoras’ Theorem and Trigonometry, subjects I’ve found little practical use for in my adult life. Yet, topics such as taxes, pensions and mortgages were never brought into lessons. No one ever sat me down to explain how the interest rate on my student loan would work and there were no lessons on how the taxes would be decided on my first pay-cheque.

Everything I have learned about finance has been from experiences outside of formal education. I feel so privileged to work alongside both my colleagues and clients, who inspire me endlessly to take control of my finances and set myself up for later life with a good pension and some smart investment choices. But I know not everyone is lucky enough to work in such an environment where financial issues are discussed so frequently. Wouldn’t it be great if the standard education in the UK prepared children for the future financial decisions they will face: paying taxes, leasing a car or buying a house?

In 2018, research conducted by charity MyBnk and MUFG Bank found that parents in the UK don’t believe schools are doing enough to equip pupils with personal finance skills, with 54% of parents polled saying they wanted schools to commit to spending more time on the subject and were happy to reduce the time spent on other national curriculum subjects to achieve this. Research from the Money Advice Service commissioned in the same year found that half of UK schools or colleges offered financial education a couple of times a term or even less frequently. So whilst financial education has been on the curriculum in the UK since 2014, there is definitely room for improvement.

A lack of good financial education means children are left to rely on the advice of parents and carers, who themselves may not be fully educated on everyday finances. As these children grow into adults, a lack of personal financial capability means they may be more likely to make poor choices and fall into problem debt. A good basic knowledge on personal finance issues can lead to making better decisions throughout life, ensuring financial resilience and allowing families to secure their financial futures.

Today’s children are growing up with technology at their fingertips, such as money saving apps that can give children a helping hand in learning how to make budgets and spend their pocket money. But not every child is privileged enough to have access to these and ensuring young people receive a basic financial education at school means all children will have the same foundations to start healthy financial habits for the rest of their lives.

With so many parents wanting their children to learn important lessons they can apply through their lives, why can’t there be a shift in the education the children of Britain receive? As we start to come out of lockdown and into this ‘new normal’, many aspects of life in the UK will change. We have an opportunity to ensure that many of those changes are for the better. Bringing better financial education to our children should be one of them.