I recently looked at the latest GSCE options being offered by my old school, mainly out of curiosity to see how the curriculum has evolved given it has been some time since going through the ordeal myself. It baffled and frustrated while not surprising me to see there was still no subject covering personal or general finance.
Of course, there is some financial literacy included in the national curriculum but these are not standalone lessons and are instead squeezed into other subjects. When it comes to academies and independent schools, well they have no obligation to teach them at all. Whatever is offered at the moment isn't fit for purpose in preparing our young people for managing their own finances and a world that asks us to be much more independent than previous generations.
As a financial planner, I can say from experience that there are many adults who even up to retirement have a very limited understanding of their finances. Where there is understanding, it has always been self-taught, either voluntarily, through necessity or involuntarily following an unfortunate event or poor decision.
School is the last chance we have to provide meaningful financial literacy to future generations, so we can make better financial choices and know how to handle the consequences from bad ones. The education ship is a large one and takes a long time to manouvre, however the key changes I'm sure will be driven by technolgoical advances which in turn could make room for a better financial education. Some of the trends I see shaping the education system of the future are:
Online Schooling - Not for everyone but it's not going away and provides an incredibly flexible and cheap education, especially for those in developing countries.
Nano Learning - Bite-sized lessons to manage attention spans which have been eroded by technology itself.
Virtual and Augmented Reality - Becoming inreasingly affordable and opens up new ways of engaging learning
AI Learning - AI can gather and process the data to tailor teaching to individual students, in the same way the algorithms send us adverts for bed sales the day after we told our friend we were thinking about replacing our bed. Education can be the pupil's own pace and identify their own strengths and weaknesses
Passion Project - Time can be set aside for the pupil to learn what they want to develop their capacity for independent thinking, creativity and research. This off-piste learning will better prepare children for a world of technology where their ability to think on their feed will be far more important than their abiliity to regurgitate infromation which Google can already do for us.
The reality is there is no longer a script to follow. We are now well into the fourth industrial revolution which requires a new way of thinking about education in terms of what we teach and how it is taught. Firstly children of today are hugely different from previous generations. They are browsing the internet from five, on social media by seven, they are being sexualised and exposed to adult life far earlier and constantly recieve unfiltered information. Secondly, no longer does a good education guarantee a stable career, a reliable pension and the ability to purchase our own home. Thirdly, the welfare state that was created to financially support us in the 20th century is under immense pressure, and in perspective has only been in existence for a very brief period in our country's history. It cannot be relied upon to either remain in it's current form nor provide us with any more than enough to survive.
Therefore, rather than waiting for education system to react and adapt to our new world, maybe it is up to us as parents and grandparents to be more proactive and intervene to give our children the financial education they won't get in school. Lack of education and understanding leads to fear, poor decision making and/or inertia which in turn causes a compounding and perpetual negative impact on our financial position.
The good news is that outside of academia in the real world, companies have long been aware of the above issue and have taken action themselves to educate and support their staff. Some of these companies include banks and professional education firms that have gone further to launch their own financial literacy courses aimed at school-aged children which are affordable, fit for purpose, and relevant. There are also plenty of audiobooks, reading materials and online courses available, just search anything along the lines of 'Financial Literacy for Children' and
One structured course that provides certification is shown below but there are many more. If you have a child or grandchild and are worried about their financial future then maybe it is something worth looking into.