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MPs finally call for compulsory financial ed in English primary and secondary schools after damning evidence from Martin Lewis and others

Financial education should be taught on a compulsory basis in both primary and secondary schools in England, a cross-party group of MPs have finally said. MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis has welcomed the Education Committee's new report – which has put forward many of his proposals – arguing that every child deserves to be properly equipped for independent financial life.

The Committee has also proposed that teachers are given more Government-backed training and learning materials and that schools appoint a financial education lead – recommendations also put forward by Martin in his evidence session to the Committee earlier this year, when he recalled the "bloody farce" of having to fund and self-publish a financial education textbook. Read the Committee's recommendations in more detail below.

Financial education has formally been part of the national curriculum in England since 2014, following years of campaigning by Martin and MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE). It's taught in local authority-run schools as part of the maths curriculum (though largely in secondary schools only) and through citizenship studies from ages 11 to 16. Schools can also include it within the subject of personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education.

However, Martin has described getting financial education on to the curriculum as a "pyrrhic victory" due to a lack of resources put into place for it and because changes to the schools system have meant some no longer need to follow the national curriculum. Campaigners have also called for increased provisions for primary school children (under-11s).

Martin Lewis: 'There's no excuse – every child deserves to be properly equipped for independent financial life'

MSE founder Martin Lewis

Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com founder, said: "I'm delighted that the Education Committee has taken on board so many of the points that we put forward to them. We've been fighting for proper financial education in English schools for over a decade now, and it's moved very, very slowly.

"If you consider it would take just a fraction of a percent of the amount of money paid back in PPI (payment protection insurance) reclaims alone to fully fund all financial education in schools, it's incredibly short-sighted that we don't invest a small amount in making sure our children are tolled up in this competitive consumer economy that we live in.

"There is no excuse and there should be no hiding place. Every child deserves to understand the financial landscape they're going into and to be properly equipped for independent financial life.

"I'm delighted the Committee is pushing this and I will continue to work on this in future."

Financial education should be compulsory in both primary and secondary schools, say MPs

Here's a summary of the key recommendations made by the House of Commons Education Committee in its report into financial education in England published today (Wednesday 22 May 2024):

  • Make PSHE compulsory in primary AND secondary schools – and ensure financial education is taught within it. Schools can currently teach additional financial education content in PSHE if they wish. But unlike PSHE content on relationships, sex and health, financial education is not compulsory at any school age.

    Making this compulsory would also help to ensure financial education is taught from a younger age, as primary school students (those aged between 4 and 11) are currently only taught some basic financial skills – such as understanding pounds and pence and using coins.

  • Review the maths curriculum up to age 16. The Committee said this is crucial to ensure young people at every level are developing financial literacy as a fundamental part of their mathematical knowledge and fluency. It wants to see maths expanded to better integrate with financial knowledge.

    Martin had told the Committee that making financial numeracy a focus can also have positive knock-on effects by re-engaging young people in maths.

  • Improve teaching materials and training for teachers. This includes having better access to resources and coaching in financial education during teacher-training. The Committee wants to see this support come from the Government.

    It comes after Martin recalled to the Committee the "bloody farce" of having to fund and self-publish a free 'Your Money Matters' textbook for school children as a private individual "because the state wouldn't".

  • Introduce new 'financial education co-ordinators'. The Committee says each school should have a financial education lead to manage the teaching of financial education across the school curriculum, with Government guidance provided to schools on how to do this.

    Martin had stressed the importance of this to the Committee, stating that this co-ordinator would help to ensure topics are being covered and that lessons are joined up across the separate subjects of maths, citizenship and PSHE.

  • Embed financial education into the curriculum for 16- to 18-year-olds. This Committee says this includes the option for a specific financial education qualification as part of the new 'Advanced British Standard' qualifications (which could replace A-levels in the future).

The Committee also wants to see more formal monitoring of schools' performance in teaching financial education.

Commenting on the report, a spokesperson for the Department for Education said: "Being financially literate relies on a solid understanding of maths, and we have reformed the curriculum and invested substantially over £100 million in the Maths Hubs programme. The Advanced British Standard will build on this and see all young people study maths and English to 18, giving them the essential skills they need to succeed."

Free financial education resources you can use right now

The first-ever curriculum-mapped financial education textbook – funded by Martin and created with financial education charity Young Money – is now available in secondary schools across the UK. Here's how to get a free copy.

MSE has also joined forces with the Open University 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.

For more help and resources for children and adults, see our Financial education guide.

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