Teachers in England are being encouraged to use cartoon videos and other resources to teach children about the dangers of using loan sharks, along with how to manage their money wisely.

An estimated 310,000 people in England are in debt to a loan shark, many of which trap borrowers into spiralling debt. They have been known to resort to intimidation, violence or threats to force people into paying back far more than they have borrowed.

Now a Trading Standards project set up to combat illegal money lenders has launched a pack for teachers, including videos, to help children understand loans and borrowing (see our Financial Education page for more resources).

The packs, available in versions for primary and secondary schools, have been created using funds confiscated from loan sharks.

What will children learn?

The primary school pack includes lessons about keeping money safe, and encourages children to think about where money comes from and the difference between needing and wanting. It also introduces the idea of saving and looks at issues around borrowing and lending possessions and money.

Material for secondary schools include lessons about safer lending and borrowing, encouraging students to think about when and how to borrow, values around money, saving, and what can go wrong if you don't make the right choice. There are also lessons on credit, comparing the market to get the best credit deal and the dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.

The England Illegal Money Lending Team says the materials contribute to a variety of curriculum areas and have a 'quality mark' of approval from the Personal Finance Education Group (Pfeg).

Lord Harris, chair of the National Trading Standards Board, says: "These resources are designed to help children develop an understanding of money management and prevent them from falling victim to loan sharks.

"The sooner we can educate these young consumers about the pitfalls of loan sharks, the more likely they are to make solid financial decisions."

Financial education on the curriculum

After years of campaigning by Martin Lewis and MoneySavingExpert.com, Pfeg and the All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People, it was confirmed last year that financial education will be taught as part of the new national curriculum for secondary schools in England from September.

The move brings England more into line with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (see the Financial education to be compulsory in schools MSE News story).