Three in four teachers say most pupils leave school without key financial skills

More than three in four teachers believe most pupils leave school without the key financial skills needed, a survey has suggested.

An overwhelming majority of teachers in the UK think children should be taught about money before they start secondary school, according to a poll from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS).

Hundreds of thousands of young people could be leaving school each year financially unequipped, the Government-backed body has warned.

More than one in four (26%) teachers believe financial education should start at nursery, while 44% said children aged between 5-7 should start learning about money and 19% said between ages 8-11 was best.

The MaPS – which is an arm’s-length body sponsored by Government  – is calling for financial education to begin early on in children’s lives.

Money is on the curriculum – usually as part of maths and numeracy, citizenship and personal development subjects – in all four UK nations.

But the age at which schools deliver it to young people can differ, the MaPS has said.

The survey, carried out online in November, found that nearly all teachers (96%) said it was important that schools teach pupils about money.

A child during a Year 5 class at a primary school in Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA)k
Hundreds of thousands of young people could be leaving school each year financially unequipped, leaving the UK’s future financial wellbeing hanging in the balance (Danny Lawson/PA)

Around a quarter said teaching staff did not have enough confidence or skills (25%), or they were not sure where to find the right support and resources (26%).

The complexity of financial topics and products (20%), money being a sensitive topic (18%), and young people not being interested (15%) were the other key reasons listed by teachers.

Lisa Davis, senior policy manager for children and young people at the MaPS, said: “Teachers have a unique insight into young people’s lives and their message is clear; too many miss out on the money skills they need.

“This could mean that every year, hundreds of thousands exit the school gates for the last time completely unprepared for managing their finances.

“It leaves them less likely to understand financial products, save or talk about money. They’re also more at risk of making poor financial decisions, leaving the UK’s future financial wellbeing hanging in the balance.”

“It’s vital that young people are able to navigate the world safely and securely when they leave school or college, and having the skills needed to make good financial decisions is an important part of this.”

Sarah Hannafin, head of policy at school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Schools want to provide the children with a broad and balanced curriculum which prepares them for the opportunities and responsibilities of adulthood.

“Financial education is a vital part of that as it can help protect children from increasingly complex financial harms including gambling, scams, in-game purchases and online exploitation. Financial wellbeing is also important in supporting children and young people’s mental health.

“But it can already be challenging for schools to cover the National Curriculum and qualification specifications in the time available, and this is exacerbated by government policies and high stakes accountability measures focusing on particular subjects.”

A Government spokesperson said: “High quality financial education is key to making sure young people have the knowledge and financial skills to make important decisions later in life.

“Financial literacy within citizenship is compulsory for 11 to 16-year-olds in the national curriculum, so young people are taught about the importance of personal budgeting, savings, money management and calculating interest.

“Being financially literate relies on a solid understanding of maths and we have reformed the curriculum and invested £100 million in the Maths Hubs programme. The Advanced British Standard will see all young people study maths and English to 18, giving them the essential skills they need to succeed.”

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