Skip to main content

Schools: Financial Education

Volume 823: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2022


Asked by

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made with improving the delivery of financial education to 11 to 16 year-olds since it became a statutory part of the citizenship national curriculum.

My Lords, financial education is covered in citizenship and mathematics curricula. Our school snapshot survey in 2021 showed that 86% of secondary schools teach pupils how to make good decisions about money, including on spending and saving. We have been working together with the Money and Pensions Service and Her Majesty’s Treasury, and will be launching webinars in the autumn to support the effective teaching of financial education.

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for her response. A report last month by the Centre for Social Justice found that only 8% of students cite schools as their main source of financial education, while a Bank of England commission survey back in March found that almost two-thirds of teachers cited a lack of dedicated time in the timetable for delivery. Does the Minister agree that more needs to be done to address these worrying statistics to help our children learn how to manage their money and give them the best start in life?

My noble friend is right in that we can do more to embed financial education in the curriculum. The webinars that I referred to will build on the financial education guidance for schools published by the Money and Pensions Service last year. It highlights the links between financial education and the curriculum, and how primary and secondary schools can improve the financial education that they deliver.

The Money and Pensions Service, to which the Minister just referred, states that money habits are formed from the age of seven, well before young people arrive at secondary school, yet only about 25% of primary schoolchildren in England receive any form of financial education. Last year, a report from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People called on the Department for Education to introduce financial education to the national curriculum in primary schools, and to set a target of ensuring that every primary school pupil has access to it by 2030. What progress has the Minister’s department made towards that target?

The noble Lord will be aware that the Government made a commitment to make no changes to the national curriculum during the life of this Parliament, and that remains the case. Although citizenship is not compulsory in primary schools, as we know, many schools choose to teach it as part of their commitment to delivering a broad and balanced curriculum. The Money and Pensions Service has clear goals to ensure that 2 million more children and young people get meaningful financial education by 2030 and we are very supportive of its work in that.

How is the financial education of young people helped by prohibiting grand- parents taking out junior ISAs for their grandchildren?

I was not aware of the point the noble Lord raises. More broadly, when you talk to young people, they say that a lot of their financial education comes from their parents and family, including their grandparents, so I agree with the sentiment that grandparents have an important role to play.

My Lords, the fraud Select Committee has heard that far too many scams succeed because of ignorance on the part of the recipient. The Centre for Social Justice report, to which we have already heard reference, has found that two-thirds of primary school children receive no financial education and, notwithstanding what we have heard from my noble friend, that too many school leavers have no adequate financial education. What is going to be done going forward?

The Government share my noble friend’s concern. To be clear, in the primary citizenship curriculum pupils learn about where money comes from, how it can be used for different purposes and how to save for the future. In secondary school pupils learn about the importance and practice of budgeting, income and expenditure, insurance, savings, pensions and financial products. I think these are many of the things to which my noble friend referred.

My Lords, when the Financial Services Authority—the precursor to the Financial Conduct Authority—was established, one of its key objectives was to provide education to children in this country. Would my noble friend agree that it is more than just for government policy to provide widespread financial education to children?

If I have understood my noble friend’s question correctly, there is a broader responsibility. When one looks at the advice given by the Money and Pensions Service, it talks very much about how schools should work with parents and carers and how to embed learning about financial issues by putting learning into practice and building on everyday events—perhaps including the current leadership campaign —to understand how money works.

My Lords, what is being done to assist care leavers, who often cannot manage their financial affairs, have missed out on the education that might have been available in schools, find themselves in desperate trouble trying to pay bills and manage and often end up homeless? Is it not time for a more comprehensive policy towards young care leavers?

The Government have introduced a number of very specific measures to support care leavers in exactly the areas the noble Baroness refers to. If I may, I will set those out in detail in a letter.

I want to return to the point made by the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, about children, even in primary schools, being subjected to scams and fraud, including money laundering. The list that the Minister read out made no reference to that. I think there is a gap and I ask the Minister to take this away and think about the risks and the value of advising young people of these risks.

On the specific issue of money laundering, it might be helpful if the noble Lord could give me an example of what he is thinking about. Some of the risks that we know young people face—and which I know your Lordships’ House is very concerned about—relate to gaming and gambling. I hope your Lordships will be pleased to know that a new subject in the health education curriculum on the risks associated with gambling and the accumulation of debt will be compulsory in all state-funded schools, primary and secondary.

My Lords, I refer to my entry in the register on my work for Common Sense Media. I congratulate my noble friend on her excellent work at the Department for Education; for a brief period last week, she was entirely in charge of it, I think, and that was a glorious moment. One thing that our children need to be aware of is the terrible proliferation of financial scams on the internet. Has my noble friend had discussions with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to join up financial education with general digital citizen education to give our children the tools that they need to navigate the internet?

My noble friend makes a good point. My colleague the Minister for Schools Standards has been working with DCMS on exactly that.

My Lords, young people themselves say that they want more financial education: 81% say that they worry about money, 67% say that they have become more anxious about money as a result of Covid and 72% say that they want to learn more about money at school. What more can the Government do? At the moment, it seems that a commitment not to change the national curriculum is actually denying young people the education that they say they want.

Making sure that we deliver the mathematics and citizenship curricula in a way that equips children and young people with the skills they need is a clear priority, particularly given the challenges that our schools and young people have faced over the last two years of Covid.

My Lords, is it not important that young people are proud of their country and citizenship? I raise again with my noble friend a point I have made many times: would it not be a good idea, particularly bearing in mind recent events, if young people were able to graduate as citizens, as it were, and go through the sort of ceremony that newly naturalised British subjects go through? Would my noble friend please take that on board?

I commend my noble friend for his continued focus on this issue. The Government have supported many young people to take part in the National Citizen Service, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award and other schemes, all of which really recognise their achievements. The Government are also introducing the national climate leaders award so that young people can be recognised for their contributions to sustainability and the future of the planet.