Are schools teaching children enough about financial education?

Video: Simon Read talks to Fidelity's Maike Currie about financial education for kids

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The Independent Online

Financial education was added to secondary schools' curriculum in September, but there's still an awful lot of work to be done.

The ideal? To produce young adults who leave school with a real sense of the value of money so that they are less likely to fall into debt problems.

The fact is only around half of schools in the UK follow the National Curriculum. Meanwhile financial education is not statutory at primary schools.

That’s not good enough, reckons Maike Currie of Fidelity Personal Investing. "Waiting until children reach their teens to teach them about money is too late," she told me.

She points out that on average children own their first mobile phone at eight and already buy items online at 10 often using their parents or older siblings' credit or debit card to do so.

A project developed and run by pfeg - a charity which looks at financial education for young people - works with experienced mathematics teachers, to develop a greater financial context within specific areas of the maths curriculum.

Reviewing past GCSE maths papers they found that in both foundation and higher tier papers there can often be more than 25 per cent of the paper which contains questions within a financial context. Many questions reference terms such as VAT, APR, revenue – terms that children have never been educated about.

In short, often the reason students are not achieving as well as they should is down to not understanding the context of the question, rather than a lack of mathematical ability.

Initial findings from this project have found that delivering mathematics within a financial context can improve a student’s attainment. If they understand the financial context of a question then it becomes more accessible leaving them to focus on the maths required.

Watch the full video for a detailed discussion of the issues.

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