A lack of personal finance education leaves over a third of students unprepared for life after school

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A lack of personal finance education leaves over a third of students unprepared for life after school

A new report shows that almost half of students (48%) want to be taught about personal finance at school, but the majority believe they are not currently learning the financial management skills they need.

65% of children say that school does not teach them these basic skills. GoStudent’s Future of Education 2023 report found that finance is one of the subjects students want to see more prominently in the curriculum, ahead of video game programming and AI.

UK parents top Europe when it comes to wanting personal finance taught in school. 91% of UK parents think personal finance deserves to be included in the curriculum, compared to the European average response of 79%.

However, they also recognize the need for schools to further contribute to their children’s financial education and life lessons — 55% of parents fully trust the school and its school system to prepare their child for the future.

The data, collected by online learning provider GoStudent, surveyed over 6,000 parents, guardians and their children in 6 European countries, including the UK, to find out what they think of the current education system and what they would like to change for the future. Personal finance came out as a top priority.

Requirements for including financial education in the curriculum vary across the UK. In England, for example, financial skills are included in the national curriculum only in secondary schools. However, two-fifths of teachers do not know that financial education is a legal requirement in the curriculum.* Students and parents also show a desire for finance to be given more importance in school.

Current students feel that the UK education system leaves them ill-prepared for life after school. Only 1 in 5 children (23%) believe that school teaches them everything they need to prepare them for the future, and over half (57%) believe that school alone does not prepare them for their dream job.

Felix Oswald, CEO and co-founder of GoStudent, says: “Financial education and personal finance are essential topics for future generations, including Gen Z and Gen Alpha. The ability to effectively manage your finances is a basic life skill. We need to ensure young people have access to the tools and resources they need to learn about budgeting, saving, investing and debt management. By equipping them with this knowledge, they will be able to make informed financial decisions that will benefit them throughout their lives.

“As educators and mentors, it is important for parents and teachers to tap into children’s natural interest in finance. Financial literacy shouldn’t be optional – it’s a must-have skill that will enable today’s kids to build a solid financial future.”

Nerys Steventon, s Train First Careers Leader in Cheshire, says: “Currently in schools, personal finance education is often a small element of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PHSE) curriculum and can be seen as non-essential learning within an already overcrowded curriculum. Schools, especially those serving disadvantaged communities, simply don’t have the funding or resources to train staff to provide in-depth training on how to manage money, even though they know its importance.

“It is so important that young people feel confident about how to manage their personal finances. It should go hand in hand with soft skills such as social skills and communication or nutrition and wellbeing. We need to give young people the tools to navigate their financial futures, understand the topic personally, know how to get support if needed and even explore future careers in finance. Students living in disadvantaged communities often see financial struggles every day at home, and without more education on this topic, these inequities will only be perpetuated.

“There are already many widely available financial education resources, but without adequate funding and training, school staff will struggle to properly implement this type of education. Financial education is fundamental to the future and prosperity of our next generation and should be invested in.”

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