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Financial education debate: Government to consider compulsory money lessons

Helen Knapman
Senior News Reporter
15 December 2011

The Government today said it would consider making financial education a compulsory part of the school curriculum.

It came as part of an MPs' House of Commons debate on the subject, which was a direct result of a government e-petition, tabled by Martin Lewis, as part of a campaign by this site, which calls for compulsory money lessons for kids.

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The petition hit the magic 100,000 signatures last month, which is the trigger at which point all issues raised in government e-petitions are considered for debate in the Commons.

Earlier this week, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Financial Education for Young People, which has the support of 226 MPs and Peers, issued a report calling for compulsory money lessons.

It wants teaching split between maths and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) studies.

Government pledge

Nick Gibb, Minister for Schools, said: "I think we're all in agreement about the importance of good quality financial education. It is true that young people are growing up in a materialistic world that they are not prepared for."

Gibb added the Government said the APPG report's proposals will be included in a review of the national curriculum.

He also confirmed PSHE won't be compulsory in the curriculum but it is possible for elements of it to be compulsory, of which financial education could be one part.

Earlier today, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, writing for MoneySavingExpert.com, said young people must be taught about money matters.

There was also much consensus in the debate that including financial education as part of maths could make maths a more attractive subject.

Conservative MP Justin Tomlinson, chairman of the APPG, led the calls for financial education to be made compulsory, and to be taught at both primary and secondary schools.

Tomlinson said the next generation needs to be equipped with the key skills to understand issues such as how to compare energy tariffs and how to calculate APR and interest rates.

He said: "We have a duty to equip people to make informed decisions, so they can understand the implications of what they are doing based on their own circumstances."

Widespread support

Conservative MP Andrew Percy, chairman of the APPG inquiry, said at the debate: "This is about real maths skills, about using real life experiences to support the drive for ensuring our young people enter this complex financial world in a position to make better decisions."

Labour MP Jenny Chapman said: "An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com creator, says: "In many ways, this was Parliamentary discussion at its best. Of the members who were there, many noted the importance of the e-petition and the number of constituents who contacted them who said it was important.

"This is by no means the end of the battle but it is a firm foundation that slaps the campaign into ministers' faces and leaves them in no uncertain terms that unless this is taken seriously, not just the signatories of the petition, but many MPs, will be on their backs."

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