How can primary educators support pupils to build their financial literacy?

Our challenges as educators and curriculum planners are increasingly growing, with pressure to fit more and more into our pupil’s learning. Taking the time to really consider what is vital to our pupils’ futures is a valuable consideration while maintaining a clear vision of the purpose of education. Whilst many headlines would lead us to feel this is only about academic outcomes, the ability for our pupils to manage their lives well and to be able to easily adapt to what their future brings should be an instrumental part of the learning we are designing today.

Considering money, financial literacy, and enterprise as a part of this process is a valuable step that schools can take; but considering where this fits is also important in an already crowded curriculum. Alongside this, there is much expectation for teachers to be specialists in areas such as financial education. I certainly remember applying for my first savings account and wishing that I had undertaken opportunities to learn about spending, saving, budgeting and the real value of money when I was at school.

According to the Children and Young People’s Financial Capability 2019 survey, there is a direct positive relationship between recalling learning about managing money in school and financial confidence. 90% of children and young people who had learnt about managing money in school said it was useful [1]. Helping our pupils build their financial literacy and understand benefits and challenges is key to helping them manage their future lives. This may be especially relevant for our pupils growing up in lower economic situations who will need this understanding if they are to help change their personal circumstances. Financial education may lead to better outcomes for people and increased financial wellbeing according to Ipsos [2].

Within the United Kingdom, different nations focus on economic awareness, money, and finance in diverse l ways; knowing what is the statutory expectation of your school, versus choices around appropriate and relevant curriculum materials to use, can feel confusing:

  • In Scotland, all schools are receiving new guidance from the Money and Pensions Service to embed financial literacy into the curriculum, with a number of useful exemplars and projects materials that can be accessed to support quality learning [3,4]
  • The new Welsh curriculum has specifically set out objectives within learner’s progression to help them develop economic responsibilities as part of a sustainable future [5], as well as a framework for Personal and Social education for 7-19 year olds [6]
  • In Northern Ireland, schools are issued guidance as part of the curriculum to develop learner’s financial capability in various subjects
  • Although PSHE as a subject identifies Economic understanding as part of its acronym in England, it still remains a non-compulsory subject for KS1 and 2; even with the updated curriculum for 2021/2 academic year [7]

So how can educators prioritise financial education, be supported to plan effective ways of embedding approaches into the curriculum, and what resources are available to make this learning engaging, purposeful and relevant? Here are the main considerations that I have undertaken as Head of Curriculum at Victoria Academies Trust when supporting our teachers to develop these aspects for our learners:

Quality resources developed by experts

To be able to support teachers to deliver such lessons, and Senior leaders to deliver whole school communications, we ensure that they have access to quality resources and materials, developed by experts in finance and education. LifeSkills created by Barclays, is a great example of such resources, with highly visual materials created for use by teachers and learners. Awarded the Young Money quality mark and aligned to the Financial Education Planning Framework, their new materials are driven by stories, scenarios and interactive elements, making them both accessible and engaging. Due to the depth and quality of the LifeSkills materials, as a leader I would feel confident that using them would deliver informative learning for our pupils; and that they are clear and easy to access as a teacher – helping with workload and expertise.

Using real-life scenarios

Finding engaging ways to weave lessons into the curriculum about money, finance and budgeting can take place in all sorts of different ways. Using Maths lessons to teach children about the specific skills of recognising and using money is a fantastic place to start, but are children then able to apply this understanding into other, more real-life contexts? This is about finding opportunities to provide resources and weave these integrally into our curriculum. The visual storytelling nature of Samir’s birthday budget challenge is a great example of how this can be done, using the real-life scenario of creating a budget to go on a shopping trip.

Using accessible language

When mapping out PSHE as a subject (even with the new expectations around relationships and family education that has increased), continue to identify aspects of learning that focus on economic understanding. At Victoria Academies Trust we have mapped out a number of objectives that we feel are vital for children to gain an understanding of within their time at school. We have then broken these down into progressive and age-appropriate learning statements, focusing on recognising and handling money, its use in society, budgeting, saving, earning and spending.
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  1. UK Children and Young People's Survey Financial Education in Schools. Dec 2019.
  2. Financial Wellbeing. Ipsos. Jun 2020.
  3. Money & Pensions Service. Financial Education in Scotland. Nov 2020.
  4. National Improvement Hub. Education Scotland. April 2021.
  5. Curriculum for Wales guidance. January 2020.
  6. Personal and social education framework for 7-19 year olds in Wales.
  7. Financial Capability. Northern Ireland Curriculum.

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