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Report Calls for Changes in Support of the Informed Choice Policy

A report released by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) last week examined the range and efficiency of existing provisions for financial education.

The research carried out in preparing the report covered both pre and post compulsory education throughout the UK and highlighted a lack of evidence of the effectiveness of financial education at either stage. The review’s main aim was to assimilate all the existing information concerning financial education in order to influence the “Informed Choice” policy on financial education.

Success at Individual Establishments

The report hints that the success of financial education for those still in compulsory education may depend on how effectively individual schools implement the programme. It suggests that teachers should receive ample training and information in order to build up confidence in teaching the subject, and also that it must be more highly placed on these schools” agendas.

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has recognised that in order to achieve this it must take significant measures to raise the profile of the subject. Attempts to accomplish this have begun with requests that the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) considers incorporating financial capability more explicitly into Maths GCSE courses as part of the wider review of the GCSE curriculum.

Post compulsory education is provided for adults with poor skills or limited financial means, employees, students in non compulsory education and the general population mainly through online information. This provision is tailored according to the specific requirements and circumstances of individuals in each of these groups. The report warned that results of efforts to improve the general financial capability of the population will not be immediately visible, emphasising the long term nature of the progress in this area.

Planning Ahead in Provision

The DWP report advised that the best policy in order to achieve effective results is to focus on increasing the provision of financial education in schools for under16 year olds in addition to improving and facilitating accessibility to such courses for adults. The report identified the need for significant development of the guidelines, framework and incentives for increasing the numbers of students who take up the subject as well as endeavouring to integrate financial education into other the main curriculum subjects. For adults, the report proposes compiling a practice guide based on the financial education already available rather than drafting a major new programme.

The report also highlighted the necessity of ensuring that financial education is consistently customised and adapted according to the precise needs of each person. A general increase in financial capability will only be witnessed if the education students receive is relevant to their own lives and can be applied effectively.

The Financial Services Authority has begun a survey tracking the financial capability of the UK’s population, recording any changes over time. It is vital that the government uses the findings of this study in order to assess the national situation more accurately and make essential future amendments to the way that financial education is taught or made available to those in both pre and post compulsory education.

Sara Hashash

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