Schools: Financial Education - Question for Short Debate

– in the House of Lords at 7:30 pm on 31 January 2024.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Baroness Sater Baroness Sater Conservative 7:30, 31 January 2024

To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to improve the financial literacy of children through the provision of financial education in schools.

Photo of Baroness Sater Baroness Sater Conservative

My Lords, I am delighted to bring this debate to the House and thank all those who will contribute today. I declare my interest as an officer of the APPG on Financial Education for Young People.

Many of us will remember the world of piggy banks where real cash was kept; you could spend only what you had and no more. With physical money, life was somewhat simpler. Our children are living in a complex world of complicated financial decisions. Buying anything can be a minefield, from tempting credit offers, easy credit store cards and hire purchase to leasing and PCPs, and then there are scams, cyberattacks and payday loans. It is mind-boggling.

Banking is now significantly online. Contactless cards and payment by mobile phone make payments wonderfully easy, but spending is made easier too. It is all too quick to spend beyond your means.

I want to focus on a few things today. First, financial literacy is a life skill vital in preparing our young people for a rewarding life. Schools have an important role to play, so I hope today’s debate will focus on how we can strengthen and support provision in schools.

The London Institute of Banking & Finance reported in 2023 that 68% of children worry about money and their personal finances. Only 8% cited school as their main source of financial education, down from 15% the previous year.

Worrying about money is stressful. A survey of adults in the UK by Santander highlighted that 70% reported that better financial education would have improved their ability to manage their finances during the cost of living crisis, and two-thirds of young people believe that a lack of financial education has led them down the path of debt.

Money worries are the most important cause of anxiety in the UK, according to research from the Mental Health Foundation. Giving children the skills to manage their money and make informed decisions so they understand savings and investments, pensions, mortgages and loans can have a positive impact on their financial security in the future and on their mental well-being.

In 2023, GoHenry with Censuswide and Development Economics reported that prioritising financial education could have a positive impact on the wider economy too, adding nearly £6.98 billion into the UK economy each year and up to £202 billion by 2050. Children and young people are eager to learn. In March last year, the Institute of Banking & Finance reported that 82% would like to learn more about money and finance in school and college, up from 72% a year earlier. Research also tells us that parents want it too.

Secondly, financial education is not a statutory part of the national curriculum in primary schools in England. It is, however, embedded in the primary schools of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Research by Cambridge University, published by the Money and Pensions Service, indicates that habits and attitudes towards money are formed by the age of seven. Therefore, we should make sure that all primary school children, wherever they may live, have access to financial education.

According to a survey of primary school teachers by EVERFI in 2020, 82% considered teaching financial education to be very important, but 70% of them stated that financial literacy was not given enough importance. Positively, the Centre for Financial Capability identified that one in three primary-aged children receive some form of financial education, and there are some very good examples of financial literacy being taught in primary schools, but this means that in England it is a lottery as to whether you receive it or not. Making financial literacy a statutory part of the primary school curriculum would correct this, so I hope that my noble friend the Minister can make it happen.

It is a different picture in secondary schools. In 2014, provision of financial education became statutory in local authority schools, but delivery is variable and there are gaps. Those gaps are striking. The Money and Pensions Service comments that only 47% of seven to 17 year-olds in the UK—that is around 4.8 million children—receive a meaningful financial education.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People’s Building Beyond Barriers report in 2023 noted that over half of teachers did not know that financial education was part of the curriculum, yet we know that three in four teachers believe that teachers should play a leading role. The report tells us that financial education is considered challenging by teachers, with training, time and funding being key barriers. A survey commissioned by the Bank of England found that almost two-thirds of teachers felt that there was not enough time or resources to get financial education into the school year. We know that the curriculum is already under pressure with many other priorities, but we also know that teachers want to teach financial education and children want to learn it.

It is important to note that excellent materials are available from third parties and charities which help teachers deliver good financial education. Some of these resources, for example those produced by Young Enterprise and MyBnk, can bring teaching financial education to life by providing real-life situations, but sadly they are not delivered or available across all schools, adding to the lottery of life.

My third area of focus is where the provision of financial education should sit in the secondary curriculum. It presently sits in citizenship and maths programmes but not in PSHE, although it can sometimes be delivered in PSHE for those aged 11 to 16. We welcome the Prime Minister’s recently announced intention to have every child leave school with good numeracy skills. That is important to help them navigate their finances but so too are their values and attitudes towards money.

Financial education is not based on maths alone, and it would be doing it a disservice to try to put most of it within the maths curriculum, as some suggest. The importance of emergency funds—how would you cope if you suddenly lost your income, for example?—or the risk of identity theft are not topics for maths. This debate continues, and the recently announced House of Commons inquiry will no doubt look at this and how we strengthen financial education in all schools.

I turn briefly to Ofsted. It has a role to play. The APPG on Financial Education for Young People recommended that Ofsted undertake deep dives on the subject and be commissioned to map where financial literacy goals align with existing points in the curriculum. The APPG also recommended that Ofsted explore whether financial education should be in the education inspection framework. Those are all good proposals which I hope might gain traction.

The recent announcement by the Government to support financial inclusion through the dormant assets fund is very welcome. From that fund, the Government have pledged £87.5 million, and we are waiting to hear how it will be spent on financial education with a focus on children. The Centre for Financial Capability has made some interesting recommendations on how new funds could be spent, proposing financial education instructors for schools in the most deprived areas, free financial education teacher training, a hub of resources, and long-term evaluation to assess outcomes. Together with creating a financial capability innovation fund to stimulate new ideas, experimentation and collaboration, these are all good ideas. Can my noble friend the Minister provide any update on the dormant asset delivery and when the funds might be distributed?

Things are moving forward. The launch of the Money and Pensions Service’s 10-year strategy 2020-30 goes to the heart of financial well-being and includes a national goal to have 2 million more children and young people getting a meaningful financial education by 2030. This is a positive step forward, but perhaps we are not being ambitious enough. Would it not be good to have all children leave school with a good financial education well before 2030?

What we are doing at present is not enough. From research conducted by MyBnk and Comparethemarket, we know that only two in five young adults—41%—in the UK are financially literate. In some parts of the UK, we do have schools and teachers delivering high-quality financial education, but the education you receive should not be dependent on where in the country you live and the type of school you go to. We want every school and every teacher to be able to deliver a comprehensive and meaningful offer so that all children can leave school having a positive relationship with money and their personal finances.

I hope that this debate takes us a little further in helping to make that happen. We can make a real difference to people’s lives for this generation and for generations to follow. Let us seize the opportunity.

Photo of Lord Watson of Invergowrie Lord Watson of Invergowrie Labour 7:40, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, for securing this debate and introducing it so effectively. It is a shame that noble Lords have such a short speaking time this evening but I suppose that is testament to the fact that so many of us feel strongly about the need for young people to be properly prepared in financial literacy. The Education Select Committee feels the same; yesterday, it began its inquiry on this subject.

I want to concentrate on the need to include financial education as a compulsory part of primary education. As the noble Baroness said, research for the Money and Pensions Service suggested that money habits are formed as early as the age of seven, highlighting the importance of starting to educate children about financial matters at primary school. This position was emphasised by organisations such as the Centre for Financial Capability, Kickstart Money, Parentkind and the Centre for Social Justice in briefings for this debate, yet England remains the only part of the UK where financial education is not included in the national curriculum at primary school level.

That point is clearly stated by the Money and Pensions Service, an arm’s-length body of government sponsored by the DWP, which says on its website:

“In England, financial education is included in the national curriculum in secondary schools only”.

Yet, in answer to an Oral Question in your Lordships’ House on 13 March last year, the Minister said that

“at key stage 1, the compulsory curriculum includes helping children understand how they make choices about how to spend, how to save and how to use money”.—[Official Report, 14/3/23; col. 1192.]

If the Minister maintains that position, she is in denial because only around a third of primary school pupils receive any meaningful form of financial education.

The government-funded Money and Pensions Service also said in a report published four months ago:

“The earlier the better—interventions at a young age can positively enhance financial capability”.

So what are we waiting for? The simple answer is this: a Labour Government, who will review the curriculum. I am confident that the embedding of financial education in the primary curriculum will soon be a fact of school life, bringing England into line with the rest of the UK. Future generations and the economy will be the beneficiaries.

Photo of Lord Sandhurst Lord Sandhurst Conservative 7:43, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for introducing this short debate and doing it so well. I have five points to make in the short time I am allowed.

First, as we have heard, the 2023 MaPS survey showed that children’s attitudes to money have developed by the age of seven. To encourage good habits and discourage bad ones, they need education young. As the noble Lord said, it should start in primary school.

Secondly, financial education is supposed to be part of the secondary school curriculum. The 2023 survey by Comparethemarket and others reported that only 40% of young adult respondents were considered financially literate, while 61% of young adult respondents did not recall receiving financial education at school. Some of them probably did but obviously it was not adequate.

That is not surprising; I come to my third point. It is estimated that 11 to 18 year-olds need at least 30 hours of financial education in a school year to become financially literate. However, in fact, those who do receive such education—somewhere around 50% or 60%—get about 48 minutes a month. I calculate that to be around nine hours a year—well short of the 30 hours necessary. It is too little to too few.

Fourthly, we now know that schools have a vital role from early in life. Financial education is part of the curriculum but the evidence is that two in five teachers are not even aware that it is a required part. It has been found that, of those who are aware, more than half find it challenging to teach. Perhaps that is not surprising because it is not part of their training.

Fifthly, and lastly, we must train teachers and embed this in their continuing professional development. We must ensure that it is taught across all schools and at all ages. The more disadvantaged the child, the greater the need; they will not learn it from their parents. The duty to provide financial education should therefore be put on a statutory basis and include primary schools.

Photo of Lord Hampton Lord Hampton Crossbench 7:45, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I declare my interest as a state secondary school teacher in design and technology. I join in the thanks to the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, for raising this important topic.

As ever, we are talking about the difference between following the curriculum and educating our children. Nick Gibb has been quoted as describing having “good maths” as the gateway to lifelong financial stability, and pointed out that financial knowledge already forms a compulsory part of the national curriculum in secondary school. However, as has been mentioned, only 41% of young adults are financially literate—whatever that means. I would contend that that figure is much lower in reality.

Core skills in maths need to be taught but we also need to get to a stage where students can learn financial skills—such as how to compare offers in a supermarket, read a simple balance sheet, shop around for a mortgage or fill in a tax return—as well as other vital skills that are either ignored or left for excellent charities such as Young Enterprise to fulfil during those rare PSHE days. At this point, I must declare that Young Enterprise used to be a client of mine when I was a photographer many years ago.

Might it be not only that children could learn some very useful skills but that those skills could perhaps be used in later life for them to start a business, employ people and pay their taxes? In fact, I think that every student who leaves school at 18 should have started at least one business while they were at school. Would that not be fun to learn and teach? Might it inspire students to return to school and teachers to enjoy teaching?

Photo of The Bishop of Durham The Bishop of Durham Bishop 7:47, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, for securing this debate and introducing it so clearly. I declare my interests as stated in the register.

The evidence finds that a child’s attitude towards money is well developed by the age of seven. The foundations of our skills in managing money are laid in these early years. Yet, unlike in the secondary curriculum, financial education is absent from the requirements of the primary curriculum in England. This is seen by 60% of teachers as a key obstacle to its high-quality delivery. Further challenges include training, time and funding. Young Money and City Pay it Forward are examples of external providers supporting teachers with high-quality resources and training.

LifeSavers is the financial education programme delivered to primary schools by the Just Finance Foundation, of which my most reverend friend the Archbishop of Canterbury is president. It provides teachers with training, resources and lesson plans, while its innovative saving clubs give children hands-on experience, enabling them to put money-managing skills into practice. It provides a values-based approach and equips teachers to explore with children not only how to use money but how we think about it—that is, what it means to be wise, generous, just and thankful with money. By 2023, it had worked with 202 schools, reaching 53,257 children nationwide.

What are the Government doing to ensure that teachers are supported and equipped to teach financial education as a requirement of the primary curriculum? Will they adopt a collaborative approach with external schemes? Surely we want all children to learn the skills of wise money management, enabling them to live generously with money and finance not as a god but as a servant of God’s, humanity’s and creation’s good.

Photo of Lord Polak Lord Polak Conservative 7:49, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I too thank my noble friend Lady Sater for tabling this important debate. I also thank my friend Vivi Friedgut, who is here in the Chamber, the founder of Blackbullion, an educational technology start-up which is on a mission to empower millions of students to create a better financial future. The company is chaired by my noble friend Lord Fink, who was unable to be here this evening.

In discussion Vivi told me quite clearly that the current system is not working and that everyone seems to be looking for a single and simple panacea. No such thing exists. It is a journey, not a destination. From wanting as ever to be practical, I say to the Minister: we need more teacher education. If teachers are confident, they are best placed to weave it into a variety of subjects to bring them to life. Integrate elements of this financial education into other relevant subjects—maths, history, geography, economics, business, life skills—to create a holistic understanding and complement this with dedicated workshops or group work to provide real-world context.

Forever being practical, I urge the Minister to meet with Vivi and my noble friend Lord Fink. What they have done among students at universities has created a collaboration between the Bank of England and Pearson Education, and the educational help for financial education is enormous. Some 700,000 students, not just in Britain, are benefiting from the information. Surely, we can use that same technology to get this education across to children—because I notice that even primary school children seem to be holding mobile phones. So I urge the Minister, if he has the time, to meet with Lord Fink and Vivi.

Photo of Lord Parekh Lord Parekh Labour 7:51, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, on securing this debate and introducing it so well.

In two minutes I can do no more than raise three important points about financial education. In a survey, over two-thirds of secondary school teachers did not know that financial education was a curriculum requirement. Nearly two-thirds of young adults did not remember receiving it. As was pointed out earlier, for those who did receive it, it amounted to no more than 48 minutes, as opposed to the 30-hours minimum requirement.

Starting with that kind of base, I want to ask three questions about financial education. First, why does it have such a low profile; why is it not widely known, properly researched and talked about? Secondly, what are the consequences of marginalising financial education in this way? If a child’s attitude to money is shaped by the age of seven, what happens to those children who are past the age of seven but have not been exposed to this kind of education at all?

My third question relates to the content of financial education. What will you teach in financial education? Will it simply be how to spend money and how to save it? If it is to be proper financial education, it must be about the financial system and about explaining to a child what it is to have £1 and how a piece of paper acquires the value of £1 or £5: in other words, explaining to them how our system works and why money is in some sense central to our social system. Once we do this, children will begin to understand how our society is propelled by money, why it is pathologically obsessed with money and what can be done to avoid the consequences of that obsession.

Photo of Lord Sarfraz Lord Sarfraz Conservative 7:54, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I thank my noble friend Lady Sater for securing this debate and for her very powerful opening remarks.

Many kids today will be alive and transacting in the year 2100. A child who is in year 4 today will in 2100 be only in their 80s and will probably live another 20 years after that. So, when we design content, it needs to be future-proof and include ideas such as “Making money is not a bad thing. Taking risks and losing money—by starting a business, for example—is not the end of the world”. I declare an interest, having done that several times.

Thinking big about opportunities is good. I remember that, when the Government set out the ambition of the UK being a global science superpower, many Members of your Lordships’ House objected, saying it was arrogant. I cannot get my head around that. Our kids should be unashamedly ambitious. The world’s population in their lifetime will be just under 12 billion. So, if they are lucky enough to make money, we should teach them to be thoughtful and impactful with it.

So let us do all that we can to get third-party providers delivering programmes in schools that focus on the future of money, whether that is decentralised assets or cryptocurrency—not to mention AI, which will completely change insurance, investing and savings as we know them.

The next time your child or grandchild decides to create an avatar to sell virtual cookies, taking payment in cryptocurrency, please do not stop them; let them have a shot at it.

Photo of Lord Hannan of Kingsclere Lord Hannan of Kingsclere Conservative 7:56, 31 January 2024

My Lords, perhaps I can extend the list of desiderata from my noble friend Lord Sarfraz. I would like every pupil, by the time they leave school, to have taken note of some counterintuitive precepts—things that you have to be taught because they do not come naturally. For example, prices are not intrinsic in the way that volume or weight is. That seems an obvious point: if a travel agent puts up its prices during school holidays, it is not because it is being greedy but because it is responding to supply and demand. I feel that I have to say that, having listened to the questions earlier today when people were talking about price gouging and profiteering—vocabulary that I used to associate with authoritarian regimes.

Secondly, imports are a prize, not a concession. Buying high-quality stuff for less money frees up your assets and frees up your time so that you can spend it on other things, buy other stuff—that is what drives the entire economy. It is amazing how many people are against xenophobia in every context except honestly produced, good-value imported goods.

Thirdly, jobs are a burden rather than a gain—or rather, they are a means to an end. The end is to live well. If we can live well working shorter hours as a result of extended supply lines and globalisation, that is a good thing. I wish politicians did not feel the need to defend every deal by saying that it “creates jobs”. You can create jobs by employing people for the state—that does not create wealth. What creates wealth is innovation.

Finally, and most importantly, opportunity costs are real. Things have consequences, even the things that we do not immediately see, what Frédéric Bastiat called

“ce qu’on ne voit pas”— the unseen things. If, for example, you are strongly in favour of supporting Ukraine, fine, but do not then complain if there is a rise in energy bills. Things have a cost. If you are strongly in favour of preserving unspoilt land and stopping housing around you, fine, but do not then complain if house prices rise. If you strongly supported the lockdown, do not complain about inflation afterwards. If we grasped those things, we would be more informed voters, we would be more fulfilled citizens and, by the time that we came here, we would be more useful legislators.

Photo of Lord Davies of Brixton Lord Davies of Brixton Labour 7:58, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, for introducing this important debate. I agree with most of what has been said. Clearly, more must be done and the schools have an important role.

At the risk of being a bit of a grouch, I will say that we must recognise the limitations of financial education. It is important that most of our most important financial decisions, the most complex and difficult, tend to be long-term, such as deciding what pension you will have, what sort of mortgage or what to do with an inheritance, should you receive one. These decisions will be taken long after those involved have left school. Of course, good education involves practice, but you cannot practice taking a pension. The nature of what you teach in financial education should be focused on familiarity rather than the actual decisions that are taken in particular circumstances.

I will just add that I sometimes think that legislators cheerfully place difficult financial decisions on people—freedom of choice in pensions is the one I have in mind, but I am sure there are other examples—because they think people will be financially educated. A policy that requires everyone to be financially educated is a bad policy.

Photo of The Earl of Effingham The Earl of Effingham Conservative 8:00, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, for raising this debate, which I believe is of fundamental importance. As I think we all subscribe to, education has the power and the ability to hold the keys to many amazing things.

There should be four pillars to our education system: food education; physical education; financial education; and academic education. As a general broad-brush view, most people in the UK would aspire to home ownership, a decent upbringing for their children and the ability to retire in later life. All four of those educational pillars will play a key role in this outcome, but financial education arguably plays the most significant one.

Helping the young population now will have the hugely positive effect of helping them to help their own daughters and sons in 20 years’ time. Financial insecurity leads to anxiety, stress, and depression, but financial education at an early age will mitigate these risks.

Compound interest is one of the wonders of the financial world, but without a decent financial education, schoolchildren will not know that by investing only £10 per week from the age of 18, they can potentially have a retirement pot of £400,000 based on an annualised return of 9%. I do not believe it would be a difficult sell to let these children know that, in exchange for £10 per week, they could potentially have £400,000 at the age of 68. It is an easy message to get out there.

So, in this two-minute timeframe, I ask the Minister: what are the Government doing to support parents and carers in this financial education mission? Data shows that the greatest impact comes when the message is delivered by those individuals in the home, as well as those in school, and we should do everything we can to ensure that message reaches the target audience.

Photo of Lord Addington Lord Addington Liberal Democrat 8:02, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, on doing most of the heavy lifting, which was just as well considering the sprint relay event that followed it.

The noble Lord, Lord Polak, caught my thoughts most clearly when he said this must be embedded throughout the education system. I was thinking of Jane Austen, who writes about little other than money; if you look at English, and then look at Dickens, they all go there. History records it as well—the fact you have these institutions that come down to us—but it depends on the bit you are doing; the Tudors may not be quite as relevant as the first Labour Government after the war, but it is all there. You need to reinforce the idea—the noble Lord, Lord Davies, caught that as well, that it is an idea you are going for—and the maths behind it, such as compound interest and interest rates, as the noble Earl, Lord Effingham, said, and apply it and put it across.

My question to the Minister is: when does she think this reinforcing of ideas across the curriculum stands a chance of being integrated into a programme of study that most people will come across? We want to make it so that you cannot avoid this subject, and not just fall asleep and write it off because you do not like it—if anybody here says they did not do that during a lesson at school, they are lying to themselves. There are people who will simply not get it, but if the idea is bounced around, some may stand a chance of it being ingrained. This is a big subject with lots of ramifications and tentacles. If you treat it as a one-off lesson substitution, you will annoy everybody who likes the subject that you are cutting, and you will guarantee that some just will not get it at all.

Photo of Baroness Twycross Baroness Twycross Opposition Whip (Lords), Shadow Spokesperson (Education) 8:04, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I too congratulate the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, on securing this interesting debate, which has had a number of similar but significant contributions from across the House.

I echo my noble friend Lord Parekh’s question about why this gets very little attention—everybody here has found it fascinating—and I have been wondering why. As the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, said, worrying about money causes anxiety, and ensuring children get the knowledge they need is vital to equip them for life. A number of speakers, including my noble friend Lord Watson and the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham have noted how early a child’s money habits can be formed.

Currently, as I think every speaker has noted, financial education is included in the national curriculum only in secondary schools. It is a welcome addition to the curriculum, but it is arguably too little too late. As the noble Baroness, Lady Sater, said, it is subject to a postcode lottery, and the noble Lord, Lord Sandhurst, highlighted that 30 hours a year may be required for this to be effective.

Financial education is not the same as maths; as the noble Lord, Lord Polak, said, it can be woven into many subjects, including Jane Austen, as the noble Lord, Lord Addington, pointed out. Maths skills need to be cemented at a much earlier stage and, as the noble Lord, Lord Hampton, said, this should include practical skills such as comparing prices, budgeting, understanding interest rates and household bills. As my noble friend Lord Watson said, it is also Labour’s view that this should be done at an earlier stage.

I have not got time to go through what everybody else said, but I note an important point made in a paper by the Centre for Social Justice on the number of children who are problem gamblers. Shockingly, according to the NAO, there are 55,000 problem gamblers aged 11 to 16 in England, with a further 85,000 in this age group at risk. I apologise for getting that in at the end, because no one else had raised it, but I wonder how the Government are looking to use financial education to address what seems to be a serious issue, not least in relation to online financial safety. I look forward to hearing the Minister’s response.

Photo of Baroness Barran Baroness Barran The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education, Lords Spokesperson (Equalities) 8:06, 31 January 2024

My Lords, I congratulate my noble friend on securing this short but very important debate, and I thank noble Lords for their contributions.

Economic and financial education are important parts of a broad and balanced curriculum and are essential knowledge for young people to manage their money well and to make sound financial decisions, particularly sound long-term decisions, as we heard from the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Brixton. As my noble friend Lady Sater rightly pointed out, they are an important contributor to our economic growth.

As noble Lords have noted, financial knowledge is compulsory in the national curriculum for mathematics at key stages 1 to 4, and in the secondary curriculum in citizenship. Mathematics provides the underlying knowledge, and putting maths in a financial context can help to bring it to life for pupils. More specific knowledge is contained in the citizenship national curriculum in secondary school, but it can also be taught in primaries.

Schools have flexibility on how they deliver the curriculum. I have heard from a number of schools, including the Danesfield School in Buckinghamshire, about programmes that they have developed to enable pupils to develop practical money management skills, such as through a school bank, through which children can earn, spend, get overdrawn and understand the impact of interest rates. What struck me particularly was that that was developed entirely for a post-cash world, with no cash being used any more.

A number of your Lordships, including my noble friends Lady Sater and Lord Sandhurst, and the noble Lord, Lord Watson of Invergowrie, referred to financial attitudes and habits being established by the age of seven. I will refer back to the original research that noble Lords were referring to, which was from the University of Cambridge in 2013.

I quote from the research:

“In summary, the evidence indicates that teaching young children explicit forms of ‘financial’ knowledge per se is likely to be ineffectual in shaping or changing their behaviours”.

It goes on to say—this is in my words, not quoting directly from the research, but I hope I have captured it accurately—that the focus should rather be on developing “habits of mind”, namely self-regulation and the capacity to defer gratification, and helping children to understand the future in concrete terms. My noble friend Lord Sandhurst touched on that. I raise it because I think it is important; schools clearly have a critical role in shaping and helping to instil these important behaviours in children, but so do parents and so do we as a society. Indeed, my noble friend Lord Sarfraz captured so eloquently the importance of attitudes, aspiration and self-belief.

The noble Lord, Lord Parekh, asked why financial education is so low-profile. I stress that without good numeracy we cannot have good financial literacy. Good numeracy is the gateway to long-term financial stability. Since 2010 we have transformed mathematics teaching in this country by introducing the mastery pedagogy, used by the top-performing east Asian countries, to secure a deep understanding of mathematics. Going forward, the advanced British standard will ensure that all students study maths to 18, further strengthening key maths skills and developing students’ confidence to deal with finances in later life.

My noble friend Lord Polak and the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Durham both asked what we are doing to build the confidence of teachers; the right reverend Prelate also asked about collaboration. Of course, we are already collaborating with a number of organisations. In particular, the Money and Pensions Service provides guidance that signposts high-quality and quality-assured resources, including from the financial services sector, which play a key role in financial education at home and in the classroom. Training is obviously important for building teachers’ knowledge, confidence and skill. That is why the department is working with the Money and Pensions Service to deliver teacher webinars this academic year, focused on teaching about money in a cashless society. I do not know whether they will be as fun as the outline that the noble Lord, Lord Hampton, gave us, but I live in hope.

Together with my noble friend Lady Sater and other noble Lords, I recognise the really important work of charities in this area. We heard several mentions of the work of Young Enterprise, with its delivery of the quality mark, and the important work delivered by MyBnk, as well as the Lifesavers programme which, as I think the right reverend Prelate mentioned, also focuses on attitudes, which ties in with our own view. I would be delighted to meet with the founder of Blackbullion and hear more about its important work.

There is obviously the important issue of resources to build financial capability; my noble friend asked for an update on plans for the dormant assets fund. I cannot give her quite the update I would like to, but I assure her that the department continues to work closely with the Treasury and DCMS, and we will announce further details on our plans for the financial inclusion part of the dormant assets work. I will make sure that my noble friend is updated when that occurs.

I absolutely agree with your Lordships that a good financial education can also contribute to lower debt levels. Also important is an understanding of fraud and its risks, which can have such an impact on mental well-being. The Home Office recently launched new fraud education resources in collaboration with the National Crime Agency and the Association for Citizenship Teaching.

My noble friend mentioned the work of the Education Select Committee and the all-party parliamentary group. We obviously work closely with both, and I know that my right honourable friend the Minister for Schools will shortly meet the APPG chair to discuss its findings and future plans.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, asked when the UK strategy for financial well-being would be fully integrated. Back in 2020 the Money and Pensions Service published a UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing, which sets a national goal of 2 million more children and young people receiving a meaningful financial education by 2030. This is supported by a delivery plan for each of the UK nations.

My noble friend Lord Effingham asked about our messaging for parents. We do quite a lot in that area. The Money and Pensions Service has some digital content, Talk Learn Do, which is a financial education programme for parents and carers of children aged between three and 11, to help them talk about and understand money. There is also a plan to develop a similar programme for parents of children aged between 12 and 17; the discovery phase has been undertaken, and the Money and Pensions Service is planning next steps. There is also a Money and Pensions Service grant programme, which is testing approaches to support teacher training with a particular focus on financial education for children and young people who are vulnerable—for example, children in care and care leavers.

The noble Baroness, Lady Twycross, asked about the risks of gambling. She is absolutely right to focus on that. The department has published training modules for schools as part of the RSHE curriculum, which cover the risks of gambling and debt. Through health education, pupils are also taught how to recognise early signs of mental well-being concerns, how to self-regulate and the benefits of rationing the amount of time they spend online, which is obviously part of the wider picture.

My noble friend referred to the approaches taken by the devolved Administrations. Of course, they are tailored to smaller and much less autonomous groups of schools than we have in England. Our current focus is really on the skills, such as arithmetic, that underpin a pupil’s ability to manage budgets and money, but also character development, which is so important in terms of attitudes.

The Government believe that it is crucial for children to build knowledge that supports their financial literacy over time, and that it is also critical to build attitudes as early as possible. We believe that rooting financial education in mathematics and citizenship focuses the curriculum on the key knowledge that pupils will need to manage their finances confidently. I am not sure whether the curriculum contains all the conceptual ideas that my noble friend Lord Hannan raised, but it certainly gave us food for thought.

We are building on recent reforms, and the webinars that we are delivering with the Money and Pensions Service are the next step in that. Our understanding of financial literacy is through a combination of knowledge and behaviours. Schools, but importantly families too, have a critical part to play in that.

The noble Lord, Lord Addington, referred to Jane Austen and Dickens. I am going to go further back and quote Cicero, which might be unfashionable but I think is appropriate for this debate. He said: “Frugality includes all other virtues”.

Sitting suspended.