Skip to main content

Schools: Financial Literacy

Volume 829: debated on Thursday 20 April 2023


Asked by

My Lords, we work closely with the Money and Pensions Service and the Treasury to support the effective teaching of financial education in schools. The Money and Pensions Service has published financial education guidance for primary and secondary schools and we will deliver webinars for schools in due course. Our national network of 40 maths hubs also supports schools to improve their mathematics teaching, including financial content in the mathematics curriculum, based on best practice from east Asia.

I thank the Minister for her reply and I am glad to hear what His Majesty’s Government are doing. I do not know whether the Minister is aware, but the Church of England has been working on a project called Lifesavers, which came out of one of the Archbishops’ Commissions. It has so far delivered financial literacy training for 30,000 school pupils and trained 2,000 teaching staff. Given that only 5% of parents believe that their children are leaving school with adequate financial literacy, what assessment have His Majesty’s Government made of Lifesavers and other similar school projects, such as GoHenry, and how can they help these projects as we are seeking to roll them out and increase financial literacy?

The Government are very grateful to organisations such as Lifesavers for the important work they do providing very useful support to teachers and schools. According to the Money and Pensions Service, about 6.3 million children between the ages of five and 17 received some form of financial education across just over 100 programmes, so there is a great variety on offer across the country.

My Lords, I draw attention to my registered interest as chair of GambleAware. Research shows that 96% of 11 to 24 year-olds are exposed to gambling marketing and advertising, and that exposure to gambling marketing can influence their attitudes towards gambling and the likelihood of them gambling in the future. In the light of that, what specific measures are the Government taking to ensure that schoolchildren are educated about the financial as well as other risks associated with gambling?

My noble friend makes a very important point. Risks relating to gambling are part of the RSHE curriculum and there are two main aspects of this. One is supporting pupils to manage risk and make informed decisions in relation to their mental well-being and their behaviour online. The second area relates to internet safety and harms and addresses exactly my noble friend’s point: pupils are taught about the risks relating to online gambling, including how advertising and information is targeted at them, the risks of accumulating debt and how to be a discerning consumer of information online.

My Lords, I am glad that the Minister stressed the importance of mathematics in this context. Will she take the opportunity to inform the Prime Minister that it is facile to suggest improving maths in our schoolchildren without paying mathematics teachers enough money to encourage them to join and stay in the teaching workforce?

I have to say that I do not really have any intention of saying to the Prime Minister that his plans are facile. More importantly, I point the noble Lord to the pickup in recruitment of maths teachers following our interventions over the last three years.

My Lords, those children and young people who are financially literate are less likely to make poor financial decisions. Unfortunately, we see many children, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, who are not able to make those correct financial decisions. It is not just about teaching maths; it is actually about having practical opportunities and experiences. Will the Minister reflect on how we might do that in a more coherent way across all schools, particularly starting in primary schools?

The Government agree with the noble Lord that it is that combination of the fundamental knowledge in relation to mathematics and reading that support financial literacy and that can be taught in schools, having really high quality materials for schools to use. But, beyond that, they should have the experiences that the noble Lord refers to. That is why we are grateful to organisations such as Young Enterprise and the Money and Pensions Service for the work they do outside schools to complement what goes on inside.

My Lords, the Fraud Act 2006 and Digital Fraud Committee heard a lot of evidence that young people are particularly susceptible to fraud and also to being conned into becoming money laundering mules. Can the Minister assure us that the financial education will include fraud to enable young people to protect themselves from becoming either victims or unwitting criminals?

Certainly, the aspects of the curriculum that relate to how to operate safely online include fraud, which is a growing and terrible problem, as the noble Lord points out.

My Lords, the United Kingdom strategy for financial well-being sets a national goal to ensure that 2 million more children and young people across the UK receive meaningful financial education by 2030. I have not found any evidence yet that the Government have dropped this goal, although I have yet to find any evidence that the Government are on track to deliver it. But I would like the Minister to wonder how that goal can be achieved, given that research from the APPG on Financial Education for Young People suggests that two in five teachers are completely unaware of the legal requirement to teach financial education.

I understand the direction of the noble Baroness’s question. I would say that the data from the APPG report, which is extremely valuable, is none the less from a very small sample. It was from, I think, 401 teachers across the four nations. So, I think we have to be careful about extrapolating from that. The Money and Pension Service, which is responsible for delivering the additional 2 million children receiving good financial education has a wide range of programmes, including support for teacher training, communication and support for parents as well.

My Lords, I declare my financial services interests as set out in the register. Would the Minister agree that, alongside financial literacy, we should also revolutionise the curriculum with data literacy, digital literacy and data privacy literary, to have a curriculum fit for the future and fit for now? Further, would she join with me in congratulating the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of St Albans? With the financial literacy initiative from the Church of England, it is clear that the bishop and his colleagues are rightly engaged in both LifeSavers and afterlife savers.

I am happy to congratulate the right reverend Prelate on his and his colleagues’ contribution before, during and after life. In relation to my noble friend’s question, data and digital literacy already feature within compulsory national curriculum subjects. Data literacy is covered within mathematics, science, computing and geography and digital literacy within computing and RSHE. They also feature within the subject content of GCSEs, which are counted in the English baccalaureate.

The noble Baroness will be aware that children are particularly susceptible to advertising, especially online advertising. Could she say when the Government are going to do something about gambling advertising and the effects it has on children?

I think I already, in response to my noble friend’s question, addressed, in part, the noble Lord’s question, namely in that we already teach children about the risks relating to advertising, and in particular the advertising of online gambling.

My Lords, the Minister has rightly identified that there are a variety of good programmes out there, such as LifeSavers. But in my experience in this field and other fields, sometimes within schools there is not always the greatest awareness of what is there. In light of one of the earlier questions which talked about coherence in the system, what actions are the Government taking to ensure that schools are made aware of best practice in this field to ensure they get the best possible provision for their young people?

We are doing quite a lot to support schools in teaching financial literacy. So, as I mentioned, we will be delivering webinars for schools in the next academic year, which will help teachers deliver the most practical and engaging content. The Money and Pension Service has already published financial education guidance for schools, and there is a quality mark accreditation scheme. Also, the Oak National Academy will be producing curriculum packages in this area.