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Martin Lewis: Government support for financial education has been a bloody farce – teachers need more resources and ongoing training

Teachers need to be "properly resourced" and supported to deliver much-needed financial education in schools, Martin Lewis has urged. Speaking to the House of Commons Education Committee, the MoneySavingExpert.com founder said getting personal finance on the national curriculum had proved a "pyrrhic victory" due to the lack of resources put into the subject.

Speaking to the cross-party group of MPs during an evidence session looking at expanding financial education in schools, Martin also recalled the "bloody farce" of having to fund and self-publish the free Your Money Matters textbook as a private individual "because the state wouldn't". 

Martin called for more training and resources for teachers, adding that these would have a "manifest impact" on the economy, on people's mental health and on the capability of young people, as shown in the clip below (as shared by news outlet PoliticsJoe):

Martin Lewis speaking to MPs on the House of Commons Education Committee.
Embedded YouTube Video

In his appearance before the same committee, Schools Minister Damian Hinds MP said: "I want there to be more financial education. I would like for kids to say they had remembered it and had found it useful."

Martin Lewis: Getting financial education on the curriculum 'didn't really change the game'

Responding to a question from the committee, Martin said: "I think in many ways getting [financial education] on the curriculum was a pyrrhic victory. In some ways, it was counterproductive. Beforehand, you had volunteer groups and other people funding and providing support in schools to go into there to teach financial education. We campaigned hard to get it on the national curriculum.

"We got it on the national curriculum in England, of course. And at that point, a lot of the resources were pulled from those who had been volunteering in the private sector. And then we had the change in the way that schools work, the academisation programmes, the free school movement – all of which means they don't have to follow the national curriculum.

"So the sort of Holy Grail of trying to get it taught on a compulsory basis in every school – which is what getting on the curriculum was about – became self-defeating. It also meant that there were less resources put into place. And, frankly, the amount of resources the state and Government has put in since then have been, well, it's been completely flaccid, and to a detrimental level.

"So while I can't say that I regret we won the campaign at the time, I'm not sure it really changed the game in any way... I still think there is a real poverty of financial education in the UK, and much of it comes down to a lack of resourcing for schools or lack of resourcing for teacher training."

'Bloody farce': Martin recounts difficulty getting financial education textbook into schools

The first-ever curriculum-mapped financial education textbook – largely funded by a personal donation by Martin – is now available in secondary schools across the UK. You can also download a free copy.

In his evidence to the committee, Martin explained that the process of getting the textbook to schools was not easy, and expressed his dismay that it took a private individual to make this happen.

Martin said: "So not only did I have to fund the writing and the distribution, we actually had to fund the publishing and the printing. Basically we had to self-publish. If we didn't self-publish, we couldn't get the Department of Education to do the letter it did to schools supporting the textbook. Now forgive me – what a bloody farce. Is that not just ridiculous? A private individual was asked to fund this."

What Martin called for at the committee meeting – in more detail

In order to address the "real poverty of financial education in the UK", Martin called for the following:

  • More resources and ongoing training for teachers. Martin said there was a general shortage of "proper, curriculum-based resources", including digital ones, which are needed so that teachers can feel confident to deliver financial education. He also called out the total lack of teacher training in this area, which caused a "vicious cycle".
  • A financial education lead in every school. This person would help to ensure topics are being covered and that lessons are joined up across the separate subjects of maths and citizenship. While noting that this could involve some trade-offs, Martin argued that making financial numeracy a focus can also have positive knock-on effects by re-engaging young people in maths.
  • Making financial education a priority. Financial knowledge and capability are not just about money, Martin said – they are also key to your individual wellbeing. He cited statistics from his charity, the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, which found you are four times more likely to have a debt problem if you have issues with your mental health. That's why Martin said it's so important to make sure every child can get good quality financial education.

You can see Martin's evidence in full on the Parliament Live TV website.

Free financial education resources that teachers – and anyone else – can use right now

Your Money Matters – the free textbook

The textbook is available to download for free across the UK – which one is right for you depends on which nation you are in. For the sake of transparency and openness, we've also detailed the funding of each textbook...

  • England. This was the original Your Money Matters – England textbook and was funded solely by Martin in 2018, with a donation of £325,000 to the Young Money charity, which included sending 340,000 free copies to all English state secondary schools, one per two children. Since then, an additional 6,000 copies have been sent to schools and colleges in England – bringing the total to 346,000.

  • The other UK nations. After the success of the English textbook, the Money & Pensions Service agreed to split the cost (£162,000 each) of adapting and republishing the textbook for the rest of the UK nations:

    Your Money Matters – Northern Ireland (15,450 copies were sent to schools).
    Your Money Matters – Scotland (27,000 sent to 350 schools).
    Your Money Matters – Wales (16,500 copies to 200 schools).

As well as the textbooks, schools are given an accompanying online teacher's guide and a PowerPoint version for use in lessons, which were all made available for free to support home learning. Digital copies of the textbooks can be downloaded for free via the links above.

MSE's Academy of Money – the free course

MSE has joined forces with the Open University (OU) to offer a free personal finance course, known as MSE's Academy of Money, designed to give you the skills and knowledge to master your finances. Over 50,000 people have already enrolled and the course is also available in Welsh.

The course is packed with videos, audio, quizzes and activities, and covers all the key aspects of personal finance in six sessions of study that each take around two hours to complete.

The course is totally flexible – you can study at your own pace, perhaps even choosing to complete just one topic to brush up on. It is available to anyone wanting to improve their knowledge of personal finance for their own interest and financial capability, or for those who work in the consumer help industries, it can provide some academic grounding to support their work.

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