Half a million financial education textbooks will be given to schools in an initiative funded by MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis.
In a major announcement today, the leading financial education charity Young Money (formerly PFEG) announced it's planning the first-ever textbook for schools, tackling topics such as saving, insurance and debt. Teachers' and pupils' copies of the book will be distributed free to all English secondary state schools from September 2018, and a PDF version will be available to download.
The initiative will be paid for with a £200,000 pledge from Martin, who has already worked successfully with Young Money, having funded the charity's My Money Week school activities for three years.
This follows MoneySavingExpert's long-running campaign for financial education, which resulted in it being added to the national curriculum in 2014.
The book is to be written over the next year, with Young Money working with schools to make sure it's right for pupils and teachers, and crucially mapped to the national curriculum – where financial education appears in the maths and citizenship programmes of study.
Martin: 'As the state has let schools down, something had to be done'
Martin said: "We campaigned hard for financial education to join the national curriculum, and succeeded in September 2014. Yet it was a pyrrhic victory. The Government put no resources into schools or training teachers – so while there are some beacons of excellence, many schools are struggling to do it or do it well.
"I hope this textbook and teachers' guide will empower schools to provide quality, cutting-edge education on the issue students will face now and in the future.
"Frankly I don't think it is right that a private individual or company should be paying for this. But the state has let schools down – something had to be done and I don't think we can wait any longer.
"We live in one of the world's most competitive consumer economies. Firms spend billions on marketing, advertising and teaching their staff to sell. Yet consumers get no buyers' training. Hopefully this will help redress that balance."
For more from Martin on his views on financial education and the new textbooks, see his interview in this week's Sunday Times (it's behind a paywall).
'Defusing the ticking timebomb of generation debt'
Michael Mercieca, chief executive of Young Money – which is part of the Young Enterprise charity – said: "We cannot allow the next generation to sleepwalk into a major youth debt crisis and that's why we're taking action to provide teachers with the resources they need to prevent it.
"Defusing the ticking timebomb of generation debt requires in-depth education and practical support, and this textbook is designed to give teachers the tools they need to provide it."
Young Money also released its new insight paper 'Easy Money: The Ticking Timebomb of Generation Debt' this week, revealing the concerns of teachers around financial education awareness in UK schools.
It includes interviews with 10 teachers from across the country and is highly critical of 'debt culture', arguing that there is too much pressure on young people to take out store cards, buy the latest gadgets and appear to be 'rich' to become popular.
What will the textbook cover?
The textbook will include guidance on issues such as:
- Saving and spending
- Good and bad debt
- Risk and rewards
- Future planning around student loans
- Tax and national insurance
Where can I get help now?
The new textbooks won't be in schools until September 2018 – but if you're looking for help in the meantime, see Young Money's website for a wide range of financial education resources. The charity is also looking at how to make the textbook available outside schools too.
Also see our Teen Cash Class, with guides to money for students, parents and teachers.