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Wednesday, 4 September, 2002, 07:14 GMT 08:14 UK
Lessons in money for school children
School pupils in a classroom
Pupils are being taught to save money and avoid debt

School children are about to start learning how to deal with debt, save for retirement and even what constitutes ethical investment - all as part of the national curriculum.

Students will be encouraged to debate hot personal finance topics as well as complete money-related exercises.

The aim is to turn pupils into informed and critical users of financial services

Steven Stillwell, FSA
Personal finance has been taught in some schools since 2000.

But now personal finance lessons will play a key part in the Government's new citizenship course.

But the course will not automatically lead to a GCSE exam and schools will be able to circumnavigate personal finance teaching.

Catching the bug

Marie Garside, deputy head of St Ambrose Barlow comprehensive in Salford saw her pupils catch the money bug when the school was chosen for a personal finance studies pilot in 1998.

Teachers and children at St Ambrose Barlow school
Teachers and children at St Ambrose Barlow school

"It's all about putting the world into context for the pupil. Studying personal finance helps them with their mathematics and builds confidence," Ms Garside told BBC News Online.

Pupils from age 11 upwards have learned financial management skills and even run an in-school jewellery shop.

Parents have also got involved in the school's activities volunteering to give talks on money topics.

Hurdles

The personal finance curriculum has been put together by the Department for Education and Skills (DFES) in consultation with the Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG).

The PFEG, formed last November, contains representatives from consumer groups, the City watchdog the Financial Services Authority, as well as High Street banks.

Wendy van den Hende, the PFEG director, believes there are considerable hurdles to overcome before personal finance is as widely taught as History or English.

"The worry is that teachers think that personal finance is out of the comfort zone. As a result there is a danger that personal finance education will be marginalised," she said.

Informed and critical

According to Steven Stillwell, Financial Services Authority spokesman, the new personal finance curriculum is divided into two.

Pupils under age 14 are given basic lessons about bank accounts and mortgages.

Older pupils, though, are taught about the possible implications of the financial decisions they make.

"The aim is to turn pupils into informed and critical users of financial services," said Mr Stillwell.

See also:

17 Jun 02 | Education
17 May 02 | Education
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