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Primary Education News
News Primary schools should teach money lessons
Personal finance will soon be on the curriculum for secondary schools but why shouldn't primary school kids learn about it too?
When should children start learning about money? In February the government announced plans to put personal finance on the national curriculum, a move which will see it embedded in both mathematics and citizenship education in maintained secondary schools from September 2014. This is a big leap forward and will make a real and genuine difference to young people's lives. But is it enough?
This is the question that the Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg) has been exploring over the past nine weeks as we have drafted our response to the Department for Education's consultation on the new national curriculum. We have spent many years campaigning for the introduction of financial education in schools, and know that teaching children right from the start is the best way to help them build their knowledge and understand how to manage their personal finances later in life.
As well as providing a basis for future learning, early financial education can also be of benefit to primary school pupils in the shorter term. Young people are encountering money earlier and earlier in life. A survey conducted for pfeg in 2009 found that the average age at which children first have their own mobile phone is an incredible eight years old, while the average age that children borrow a debit or credit card to purchase items online is just 10. It would be no surprise if the average ages have dropped even further since then.
Add to these trends our increasingly cashless society, the proliferation of new technology and recent controversies over in-app purchases that have allowed children to run up large bills on smartphones and tablets, and the case for financial education from an early age becomes indisputable.
We have just submitted a series of recommendations to the government to ensure we take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get financial education right. Chief among them is for financial education to be extended to start in primary schools: we know that personal finance learning needs to start from an early age. This is essential in ensuring that children can build up their money knowledge and skills as they progress through the education system.
We recommend that primary school teachers cover topics ranging from the value of coins and bank notes and where money comes from, to the difference between needs and wants, simple budgeting and what it means to save or borrow money. These foundations built between the ages of four and 11 are essential in supporting more complex financial education when children enter secondary school.
Thousands of primary schools already do this, not least through the annual My Money Week, which this year is running across the UK from 3 to 9 June as a result of a new partnership between pfeg and Barclays. Over the next few months primary school pupils across the country will also be entering the A-Z of Money, our new national competition for young people of all ages launched this week by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall.
The government should be applauded for listening over the need for financial education in secondary schools. This is a huge victory for young people – but not yet for all young people. By starting in primary schools, and also promoting the need to teach financial education to the growing number of academies and Ffree schools not obliged to follow the national curriculum, we can ensure that every young person gains the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to manage their money well. For their sake, we should aspire to nothing less.
Tracey Bleakley is chief executive of financial education charity pfeg. For more information on My Money Week (3-9 June) visit pfeg.org/mymoneyweek