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Financial education 5 years on: It’s still not adding up for students

Financial education in schools should be a standalone subject

Five years after its introduction onto the national curriculum, students still say they are not getting enough access to a comprehensive financial education and that they worry about money.

They want to learn more about the practicalities of managing money – budgeting, debt management, tax and how products work. And well over half (60%) would like this to be a separate subject.

  • 82% of students want more financial education in school
  • 69% worry about money
  • 60% want financial education as a separate subject

These are the core findings from the latest Young Persons’ Money Index, an annual research tracker run by The London Institute of Banking & Finance to assess the take-up and impact of financial education in schools.

The Institute has been running the research since the introduction of financial education onto the national curriculum in 2015.

The research found:

  • Today, 64% of students say they have access to financial education compared to only 29% in 2015. That’s a big difference.
  • However, most are taught financial education as part of other subjects and the majority don’t receive financial education regularly.
  • Only 18% had access within the last month
  • 16% only in the last term
  • 17% only in the last year
  • 15% more than a year ago
  • The numbers who say they get most of their financial knowledge and understanding outside of school – from their parents and/or self-learned online – remain high (86%).
  • It is significant therefore that the majority also say they would like to learn more in school (82%) and regularly worry about money and their personal finances (69%).
  • When asked how they would like to learn more about money, 60% would prefer to learn this as a separate subject.
  • Learning more about financial products such as mortgages and credit cards, tax, budgeting and debt management are their top priorities.

Our scorecard has been marked, and there are no A*s for financial education in schools – far from it. The evidence shows that the current approach is just not adding up. It’s time to give this subject the attention, and lesson time, it deserves.

After five years of financial education being in the national curriculum 69% of students still regularly worry about money and most (82%) want to learn more about money in school – in particular, on the practicalities.

Unless something changes soon, we risk failing yet another generation and negatively impacting society for generations to come.

Financial education should be included in the Ofsted Framework – effectively making it compulsory – and ideally taught as a standalone subject.

However it’s delivered, it needs to have dedicated, regular, classroom time, with clearer guidance for teachers on what they need to cover.

Catherine Winter, MD, Financial Capability at The London Institute of Banking & Finance

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