Money: What price numeracy?

Britain's long-suffering schoolteachers will have to show children how to handle money as part of the National Curriculum to be introduced in England and Wales over the next three years. The Government is expected to endorse the introduction of money-handling skills as part of its attempt to improve financial literacy and reduce the burden on the state of supporting the improvident poor.

The Financial Services Authority will also sponsor education as part of its fourfold objectives, the others being strengthening confidence in financial markets, protecting consumers of financial services and preventing fraud and financial crime. It will be able to collect the funds it needs by imposing levies on the suppliers of financial services.

But according to the FSA's chairman, Howard Davies, neither the Government nor the FSA are about to throw money at the initiative. And the real problem is that virtually all the experts in money management work in the financial industry and have a vested interest in promoting their own wares.

Schools will still be able to invite specialists to talk to pupils about financial skills - a task which National Westminster Bank and the Royal Bank of Scotland, in particular, are spending time and money to carry out.

But the report of the FSA's Consumer Education Programme, published last Wednesday, makes it clear that schools should not be expected to rely on experts who may have a vested interest in stimulating de-mand for the services their employers want to sell.

The job of teaching financial skills objectively will therefore fall on teachers. They will be expected to use real-life financial issues as tools in teaching numeracy, as well as part of the new courses in citizenship which Education Secretary David Blunkett is proposing to introduce as part of the National Curriculum.

This raises the question of whether teachers will be willing to take on such extra duties if they are not financially rewarded for doing so. The experience of relying on the goodwill and personal commitment of teachers to supervise sport in schools is not encouraging.

The next question is whether teachers will have the skills and experience to teach the basics of insurance, money management, mortgages and investment to the necessary level.

Teachers are no longer feather-bedded but most of them still take job security and a good pension for granted. They have little personal experience of coping with redundancy, managing investment portfolios or investing for retirement.

Frankly, I doubt whether there are enough skilled teachers to guarantee an adequate standard of teaching in every school, and I fear the Government is about to spoil an essential piece of policy by failing to fund it properly.

To succeed, the initiative really needs a reservoir of skilled, impartial teachers of financial skills, and they are few and far between.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Software Development Manager

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Ashdown Group: Product Manager - (Product Marketing, Financial Services)

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager - Marke...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links