Since September 2014, children in England have been taught about finance in schools. The lessons form part of key stages three and four. In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, finance lessons are compulsory for some school-age children. What will finance lessons include?
From September 2014, children in England have been learning about a range of issues, from identifying notes and coins to understanding how public finance is raised and being taught about pensions.
Children will be taught about finance through maths lessons in primary and secondary school and in citizenship in secondary school. According to PFEG, the personal finance education charity, it should mean that children should be able to do different things by certain ages.
Key stage 1 (5 -7 years) children will be taught about money and its value. They should be able to:
- Know the value of different denominations of coins and notes;
- Work out different combinations of coins that equal the same amounts of money; and
- Add up and subtract different amounts of money (such as 5p or 10p) and give change.
Key stage 2 (7 – 11 years)
Children in year three should be able to add up and subtract amounts of money, and be able to give the right amount of change.
Children in year four are expected to be able to:
- Solve simple money problems involving fractions and decimals to two decimal places; and
Estimate, compare and calculate different measures, including money in pounds and pence.
Year five and six pupils should be able to:
- Solve problems involving measure (including money) using decimal notation, including scaling.
In secondary school, finance is taught in maths and citizenship.
Key stage 3 (11-14 years) children should be able to:
- Develop their use of formal maths knowledge to interpret and solve problems, including in financial mathematics;
Use standard units of, money, including with decimal qualities;
Solve problems involving percentage change, including: percentage increase, decrease simple interest in financial maths; and
- Use compound units such as unit pricing and density to solve problems.
Key stage 4 (14-16 years): children should be able to:
- Develop their use of maths to interpret and solve financial problems, including in financial contexts.
Children will be taught about managing money on a day-to-day basis:
Key Stage 3 (11-14 years) pupils will be taught about what money is used for and introduced to budgeting and ideas of managing risk.
Key Stage 4 (14-16 years) pupils will be taught about income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance, savings and pensions. They’ll also be taught how public money is raised and spent.
In Northern Ireland, financial capability is part of the national curriculum and all school children have to have finance lessons as part of their education. There’s a useful website which explains more about what they are taught – it’s called Financial Capability.
Finance is taught in schools in Scotland. There’s more information about what they’re taught on the financial education section of the Education Scotland website. Children are encouraged to learn about:
- Financial understanding – to help children make informed decisions and choices about their personal finances.
- Financial competence – including being able to identify and tackle problems or issues with confidence and being able to manage financial situations effectively and efficiently.
- Financial responsibility – helping children and young people to budget wisely and plan for the future.
- Financial enterprise – Financial enterprise is about being able to deploy resources in an imaginative and confident manner.
SAVVY TIP: Education Scotland has some information on Family Finances, which are used to help teach children about money.
Children aged 7 – 19 in Wales learn about finance at school. There’s more information on what they learn on the Welsh financial education unit website.
How you can get involved
No matter how much – or how little – your children’s school teaches them about finance, talking about money at home will always help. Here are some tips from PFEG.
For young children:
1. Help your child to recognise different notes and coins. Do this when you’re out shopping or (if you have a bit of a battle in the supermarket!) when you’re unpacking your shopping at home.
SAVVY TIP: According to the charity the Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG), one of the problems for children today is that they don’t see so much real money. Parents often pay for shopping with a debit or credit card and it can be difficult for a child to understand what’s happened. The card doesn’t physically change before and after the transaction so it could look like you’re getting your shopping for free.
2. Talk about the difference between needs and wants. This is something you’re likely to come up against again and again as your children grow up. Incorporate a financial message into your explanation so they get used to the idea that you have to make decisions about what you buy all the time.
3. Talk about your household budget. Get your children to join in. Encourage them to talk about how they’ll spend their pocket money or how much they think things you have to buy cost.
SAVVY TIP: Give your children pocket money rather than buying them treats whenever they ask. PFEG says it has noticed that fewer children seem to get pocket money. Giving them a set amount that has to last for a week is a good way of introducing the concept of budgeting.
For older children:
Talk about family spending and get them involved in decisions.
1. Renewing car or household insurance. Talk about getting a good deal and compare what’s on offer at different price comparison sites.
2. Planning a holiday. If you normally buy your children treats while they’re on holiday, give them a set amount to spend as they please instead.
SAVVY TIP: Talk about the fact that once it’s gone, they won’t get anymore and make sure you stick to it if you can.
3. Mobile phones and tariffs. Talk about the pros and cons of pay as you go versus a contract. Decide how much of the bill you will be responsible for and how much your child has to pay for.
National Student Money Week – lots of information about what student money week involves and who is taking part.
Banks and financial companies
Some banks and financial companies do their own finance education in schools, providing resources for teachers and/or staff members who visit the schools to talk about money.
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