On Wednesday, youth money management charity, Young Money, announced the launch of the first ever financial education textbook to hit secondary schools in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, following a previous launch in England, supported by Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis.
Some 45,000 textbooks will be sent out over the next 14 months, to state schools across the three countries, with Scotland receiving 21,500, Wales 12,500 and Northern Ireland 12,000. The aim is to have around 75 free textbooks in every secondary school of each country, with both the text and accompanying teacher’s guide also being made available digitally.
Today’s news follows the previous successful launch of the same textbook, called ‘Your Money Matters’, with 340,000 copies sent to state schools across England. This initial roll-out was funded in-part by a £325,000 personal donation from Martin Lewis, whose money aided in the development and distribution of the resource and teacher’s guide.
What is it and is it actually helpful?
The initial directive of the textbook was to educate 15 and 16 year-olds on financial literacy and money management, though it has been used in more broad subject areas and across a wider range of age groups. It contains facts, information and interactive activities for students to apply and test their comprehension.
Young Money listed a broad outline of its contents as:
1. Savings – ways to save, interest, money and mental health
2. Making the most of your money – budgeting, keeping track of your budget, ways to pay, value for money, spending
3. Borrowing – debt, APR, borrowing products, unmanageable debt
4. After school, the world of work – student finance, apprenticeships, earnings, tax, pensions, benefits
5. Risk and reward – investments, gambling, insurance
6. Security and fraud – identify theft, online fraud, money mules
These themes will remain broadly consistent, though the organisation has said that feedback – from focus groups with teachers and government officials – is being taken into account, to amend the textbook to fit the respective curriculum of each country.
As far as initial reception is concerned, some 89% of teachers said that ‘Your Money Matters’ would improve the quality of financial education in schools, while 88% said the book would increase their confidence to deliver financial education.
One Subject Head at a Community School said:
“Excellent resource! Much needed for youngsters. We are very grateful to have received the textbooks and received excellent feedback from students. One student told me that our Financial Capability lessons changed the way her parents look at finances and motivated them to change the way they deal with money as a family.”
Why is financial education needed?
Fewer than three in ten 14-17 year-olds plan ahead for spending on the things they need and more than one in ten 16-17 year-olds have no bank account at all.
Books such as these are much-needed to educate teenagers on the realities of financial planning and the importance of money management. Rather than learning as they go, making mistakes and missing financial opportunities, this book might help state school children make more prudent financial decisions from a younger age, and, importantly, have some understanding of the fairly inaccessible world of financial jargon.
Commenting on the positive news, and why it’s so important, Martin Lewis said:
“The pandemic has shown the lack of personal financial resilience and preparedness of the UK as a whole. Not all of that can be fixed by improving financial education, but a chunk of it can. Of course, we need to educate people of all ages, yet young people are professionals at learning, so if you want to break the cycle of debt and bad decisions, they’re the best place to start.”
“I was one of those at the forefront of the campaign to get financial education on the national curriculum in 2014, and we celebrated then thinking the job was done. We were wrong. Schools have struggled with resources and there’s been little teacher training. Something else was needed to make it easy for schools and teachers. So even though I questioned whether it’s right that a private individual should fund a textbook, no one else would do it, so I put pragmatics over politics and did it in 2018.”
“I’m delighted that now we’ve proved the success of that book in England. The Money and Pensions Service has agreed to team up to provide this much-needed resource for the rest of the UK’s nations – adding a rightful sense of officialdom to the whole project.”