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Last Updated: Friday, 18 January 2008, 14:33 GMT
Parents back school money lessons
Secondary school pupils
Parents wish they had been taught about money at school
Most parents and teachers think personal finance should be taught in schools, according to an industry body.

The Association of Investment Companies (AIC) said 93% of those surveyed supported such a move, with half believing it should be compulsory.

Parents ranked personal finance lessons ahead of traditional subjects such as geography, music and religious studies.

Personal finance education is not currently a mandatory part of the curriculum anywhere in the UK.

'Crucial skill'

Researchers spoke to 613 parents and 771 primary and secondary school teachers.

Nearly half of all parents questioned thought the responsibility for teaching children about money matters should be jointly shared between school and the home.

Parents are clearly worried about their children's ability to manage their finances
Annabel Brodie-Smith, AIC

The survey also revealed more than half of parents believe their own financial position would be healthier if they had been taught personal finance at school.

Almost two-thirds would welcome some form of training for adults, in part so they could pass on the benefit to their children.

"Parents are clearly worried about their children's ability to manage their finances in the future and feel financial education is a crucial skill for adult life," said AIC director Annabel Brodie-Smith.

"They believe that financial education should be part of the national curriculum, even rating it higher than geography.

"Parents clearly feel they have missed out by not learning the basics, so it's no wonder they want their children to be better prepared for the wider world," she added.

Voluntary

According to the research, just 4% of the teachers surveyed regularly teach personal finance, although 57% said they would be prepared to offer it to pupils if they were provided with extra training.

School leaders need to make a commitment to making it a regular and integrated part of the curriculum
Wendy van den Hende, PFEG

There is presently no statutory provision for financial education anywhere in the UK, although schools can choose to offer accredited personal finance courses at a variety of levels if they wish.

In England personal finance modules can be studied as part of existing lessons such as citizenship or, more commonly, personal social and health education (PSHE).

Schools must teach citizenship, but they do not have to include the personal finance modules. Neither PSHE or its finance elements are compulsory, or examinable.

The government has already announced plans to add a new course called "economic wellbeing" to PSHE from September 2008, but it will remain voluntary.

Pupils in Wales can also be taught personal finance as part of personal and social education. As in England, although teachers are encouraged to cover the topic, it is not compulsory to do so.

In Scotland, there is no prescriptive curriculum, although there are official guidelines about what should be taught, currently undergoing a comprehensive overhaul.

At the moment, the Scottish Centre for Financial Education, which is co-funded by the Scottish government and industry, provides resources for teachers to deliver financial education on a voluntary basis as part of other subjects such as maths or religious and moral education.

Support

The AIC findings were welcomed by the Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG), an educational charity which works with teachers across the UK.

"Personal finance education has come a long way," said chief executive Wendy van den Hende.

"Teachers are being actively encouraged to teach it, and the government has pledged support to making it an even higher priority in the future, but there's still a long way to go.

"School leaders need to make a commitment to making it a regular and integrated part of the curriculum," she said.

Only then will the UK really be preparing children for the complexities of managing their finances in the future, she concluded.

SEE ALSO
Thousands study for finance exams
28 Nov 07 |  Business
Brown backs 'personal' learning
24 Sep 07 |  Education
Young urged to talk about money
28 Mar 07 |  Education
Curriculum to be 'more flexible'
12 Jul 07 |  Education
Students 'need financial advice'
15 Jan 07 |  Education

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