Financial Education in Schools — [Dame Angela Eagle in the Chair]

– in Westminster Hall at 9:30 am on 6 September 2023.

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Photo of Jerome Mayhew Jerome Mayhew Conservative, Broadland 9:30, 6 September 2023

I beg to move,

That this House
has considered financial education in schools.

It is a great pleasure to serve under your chairship, Dame Angela. Tip O’Neill was famously linked to the phrase “all politics is local”, but I can go one step further and say that this politics is personal, because I grew up with no financial education at all. I was given no education or instruction on how savings work or about interest rates. I was given no education about investment or what an individual savings account was—I had no idea. I did not know what pensions were; I had heard of them, obviously, but I had never been instructed on how they work, how to apply for one, what the options are, whether I should have a workplace pension, what a final salary pension is, what a defined-contribution pension is or what the differences between them might be—I had no idea.

I had no idea what mortgages were. I had heard of them, obviously, and I knew that people had them, but I did not know how to apply for them, the differences between an interest-only mortgage and a repayment mortgage, or what an endowment mortgage was—I had no idea. I had no idea about debt and debt management; I knew that I spent my money too quickly, but I did not know anything about debt management. If I got to a stage where I was in financial stress, as many people do during their lives, I had no training at all on how to manage that effectively.

I have children now—a 20-year-old who is just going off to university, a 17-year-old, and a 14-year-old. During the recess, I asked them whether they had received any financial education or training. Getting on for 40 years since my defective education, they have not received any education about financial matters at all, yet we know that that is a crucial part of our lives. A huge amount of research has been done by academics and the financial sector on how important financial training is for people’s ability to lead normal, high-quality, independent lives. I will go through a little of that research to give Members a flavour of it.

Cambridge University and the Money Advice Service did some work in 2013 in which they established that most money habits are embedded by the age of seven. They found that it was difficult to reverse those early-learned approaches later in life. If somebody does not have them by the age of seven, when they are at primary school, they are already on the back foot.

This year, Santander surveyed a large sample of adults in the UK, and 70% reported that better financial education would have improved their ability to manage their finances during the cost of living crisis. This is a real and present issue. Some 68% of adults think that financial education should be part of the primary school curriculum, so it has broad support from the general population. This is a real problem. I am not alone and I was not unique. I am the general public; I have not received financial education. That has a huge effect on people’s lives right now.

Back in 2021, GoHenry, Censuswide and Development Economics demonstrated at the very least a correlation between the financial education someone receives as a child and their later earning capability. Some 46% of those earning less than £15,000 had received financial education; among those earning between £55,000 and £65,000 a year, 77% had received financial education. It has also been demonstrated that if somebody receives financial education as a child, they save more into their pension pot. On average, people who receive financial education as a child save 44% more each month into their pension than those who did not. That is a startling statistic, and it is not just pensions, but savings more generally: of those who received financial education, more than 50% had saved more than £5,000 for a rainy day; of those with no financial education, only a third had saved that much.

I am sure Members are asking themselves whether that is correlation or causation. If it is causation the debate should finish now because the case has been made overwhelmingly for effective financial education in the school curriculum, but let us consider whether it is correlation. What we are really saying is that there is a middle-class secret to financial education and that those who receive such education at home get a huge leg-up throughout the rest of their lives. Even if it is correlation, it is the job of state education, universally applied, to overcome the deficit and level up so that we can close the middle-class leg-up and bring everyone up to the same standard.

I accept that the formal education system is not about proselytising—it is perhaps not appropriate for a teacher to say, “You must have a pension”—but it is about providing knowledge and information so that students can go on to make good decisions themselves. It is not the role of a teacher to say, “You have to do it.” I accept that. But where the outcome of a good decision is so profound both for the individual and for society it begs the question: how much of that knowledge should the education system focus on providing? A good decision in this area has a huge impact on society.

Let us look at the economy. In 2022, the pension wealth of this country was £5.4 trillion—in private pensions, not state pensions. Some 42% of all household wealth is contained in the pension system, 69% of which is invested in UK assets. If we made a small change in the amount of money going through the pension system, that would have an enormous impact on the level of productive investment in the United Kingdom economy.

Then we have the impact on mental health. We know that 11.5 million Britons have less than £100 in savings and that financial stress has a huge impact on mental health. I have had periods when I have been very worried about money. The worry is so profound that you cannot think of anything else. It dominates your life. We know that treatment for an individual mental health episode costs the state between £600 and £800.

Photo of Gregory Campbell Gregory Campbell Shadow DUP Spokesperson (International Development), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Cabinet Office)

I congratulate the hon. Gentleman on what would at any time in our recent history have been a timely debate. On the point about those 11.5 million people, most of them in the lower socioeconomic groups, does he agree that it is all the more important that teachers and those involved at the outset of people’s careers try to inculcate in younger people the need for and benefit of saving even small amounts initially, which build up to a long-term benefit in later years?

Photo of Jerome Mayhew Jerome Mayhew Conservative, Broadland

You are absolutely right. I will come on to the benefits of compound interest, which is part of the answer.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

Order. I do not want to intervene too much, but if you say “you”, you are referring to me. As I am sure we all we know, he is “the hon. Gentleman”.

Photo of Jerome Mayhew Jerome Mayhew Conservative, Broadland

Of course he is. I am sorry for that slip.

Barclays, in its 2014 research, found that 17.5 million hours of productive work was lost because of financial stress. It came up with the figure of £120 billion of value lost to the economy because of financial stress in that year.

Then there is the impact on the individual. Last year, Standard Life did some research on the impact of compound interest on pensions. It created a worked example showing that if a 27-year-old got a relatively modest entry-level job paying £23,000 a year and contributed the minimum to their pension—3%—and their employer contributed the minimum that they could, which is 5%, they would, at the retirement age of 68, have a pension pot of £312,266, a very considerable sum to support them in their later years. However, if that person started saving into their pension just five years earlier, aged 22, their pot would be £424,618 at the age of 68. That is £112,000 bigger—an increase of 36%. The difference is profound not just for the person’s chances in later life, but for the state, because there are knock-on consequences for the cost of social care as we age as a society.

I come back to the point that I recognise that it is not the job of the state to proselytise or the job of educational establishments to tell young people that they have to have a pension, for example, but where the impact of failing to give people really good information on which they can take their own decisions is so profound, for the individual, for the economy and for society as a whole, surely there is a level of focus that the state should provide in giving detailed information repeatedly to young people during the educational process. The need is enormous and, in my submission, we do not go nearly far enough.

The answer, one would think, is that young people should be given financial education as part of the curriculum. “Job done,” we thought back in 2014 when the coalition Government did exactly that. For secondary education in England, it was made a statutory part of the curriculum. The devolved nations go further: they have it as part of the primary as well as the secondary curriculum. Yet the all-party parliamentary group on financial education for young people, which I am lucky enough to chair, undertook some research and reported earlier this year that, despite the legal requirement for financial education to be part of the curriculum, 56% of teachers in England did not know that it was part of the curriculum. That begs the question: how were they teaching it if they did not even know that it was part of the curriculum?

The Money and Pensions Service looked at the same issue but from the other end of the telescope. It asked children, “Do you remember ever having received any financial education?” We can forgive them a bit of amnesia, but only 38% of children recalled any. That means that 62% had no recollection of ever having received any financial education at all.

What has gone wrong? Why are we in this state despite the fact that financial education is part of the national curriculum? The first answer is that it is very easy to ignore. We know that there is a lack of awareness, because the researchers told us that the majority of teachers are not aware that financial education is part of the curriculum and they are meant to be teaching it. We know that it is not inspected by Ofsted. We know that it is something that is added in, perhaps as an afterthought, and not part of the core curriculum. There is an easy solution to that, and one of my requests today is that the Department for Education lead, or at the very least support, a determined campaign to raise awareness among educational establishments of the importance of financial education and the fact that it is indeed a statutory part of the national curriculum.

The second reason why financial education has fallen down is that teaching it is hard. Many teachers, just like me, did not receive any financial education themselves, and the survey evidence supports the fact that they do not feel confident in teaching a subject about which they know so little: 55% of teachers find it challenging. They went into further detail and said that there are time pressures and a lack of training—again, it is about their own financial confidence—and, of course, there are many, many competing priorities in the education system. We need to provide teachers with improved access to the training they need. Perhaps there is a role for teacher training colleges. Teachers are coming into the profession with no focus on financial education at all and a lack of confidence in their own abilities in this area. Could teacher training colleges have a focus on financial education as part of the curriculum?

There is a lack of time in schools. Can we integrate the teaching of financial education better into the other subjects that are already part of the curriculum, as part of applied learning? Again, I know that it is not the role of the Department for Education to dictate lesson plans to the 22,000-odd schools in this country, but it is the Department’s role to facilitate.

Using financial topics as the context of learning can increase engagement with mathematics. That is not my assertion; research has demonstrated it. In 2019, the OECD undertook a pilot scheme and found that where this subject was integrated, students’ performance on exam questions increased by 20%. That is very significant. Of the teachers who participated in the pilot, 81% said that it improved pupils’ understanding of financial matters, which we would expect, but about 50% said that their students demonstrated improved attitudes to maths as well. That is quite startling. It improves their ability to answer questions, and it improves their approach to the harder core subject of mathematics. Does the Minister agree with that analysis, and if so, what work is being done to develop this approach more widely within the maths curriculum?

Another piece of feedback, perhaps predictably, was that there is a lack of resources. There are loads of training aids out there. Every established and aspiring bank and financial institution is desperate for their environmental, social and governance departments to provide financial education to young people. Martin Lewis produced a textbook four or five years ago, which I know the Minister was involved in helping to create—more power to your elbow.

Photo of Jerome Mayhew Jerome Mayhew Conservative, Broadland

His elbow—I am so sorry. I am normally quite good at this!

I recognise that the textbook needs to be updated, but an improved textbook from Martin Lewis or the wider financial services sector could be taught for 30 minutes every fortnight for a couple of years during secondary education. Is that the sort of thing that the Minister and his Department could support? If so, what form would that support take?

One alternative to supporting the many multi-academy trusts out there, including in my constituency, with their internal teaching of financial education is to facilitate access for external financial education trainers to come into schools. Many of them are very keen to do so. Could we allow or even require schools that do not teach financial education internally to give access to accredited financial education training providers to do the job for them?

Let us bring that all together: we have learned that habits form early—by the age of seven. Should we not have financial education as part of the primary curriculum? Should we not learn from the good examples of what goes on in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, where financial literacy is measurably higher than in England? It is not by much, but it is measurably higher, and perhaps that is because they have financial education as part of the curriculum in primary schools. Should we not follow them?

Will the Minister actively support a campaign to increase awareness of financial education as part of the national curriculum for secondary education in England? Will he support the development of improved teaching assets, either within cross-departmental curricula at the moment, or through increased access for external providers? Will he encourage, perhaps in the first instance, voluntary access to external education providers? If that does not go far enough, will he mandate access if schools are not providing financial education themselves, as they are statutorily required to do?

I started this speech saying that politics is personal, and I believe that this is one of those small areas where a tiny change, relatively speaking, could make a profound difference to the lives of the people and economy of this country. We spend so much time here dealing with fluff—the latest 15-minute scandal, the eye-catching initiative. There are relatively few small, but very significant, tweaks that we can make to policy in this country that could have such a profound effect as tweaking the provision of effective financial education for young people. I know this is not an easy win, but it is an achievable win, and I encourage the Minister to grasp it.

Photo of Angela Eagle Angela Eagle Labour, Wallasey

I intend to call the Front Benchers from 10.30 am. If hon. Members who are not on the Front Benches bear that in mind, there will not be a need for a time limit.

Photo of Miriam Cates Miriam Cates Conservative, Penistone and Stocksbridge 9:52, 6 September 2023

I congratulate my hon. Friend Jerome Mayhew securing a very important debate and on his compelling speech; he has made some brilliant arguments, which I will try not to repeat too often.

I used to be a secondary school science teacher, and I distinctly remember that one summer, when I had bottom-set year 10 for biology, only half the pupils turned up to the lesson. I remember saying to those who had arrived, “Where’s everybody else? We’ve got an important lesson on photosynthesis today,” and they said something like, “Oh Miss, FIFA 2010 came out last night. They’ve been up all night playing it, so they’re not coming into school today.” So I said, “But this lesson is really important. You’re not going to pass your GCSE. It’s too complex to repeat it or to catch up at another time, so we’ll do something else.” Then one of them said, “But Miss, we don’t need GCSEs. I’m just going to work in McDonald’s.”

So I thought, what a great opportunity to prove that even if someone does work in McDonald’s full time, they are probably not going to be able to achieve the standard of living they want. So instead of learning about photosynthesis, we spent the lesson creating a spreadsheet on how much someone might earn if they worked at McDonald’s for 48 hours a week. We looked at what their rent costs might be, what their energy bill might be, how much they might spend on food, and how much it would cost for them to have the lifestyle they wanted—to be able to buy the computer games they wanted, and clothes to go out in. By the end of the lesson, they had realised that a job at McDonald’s would not fund the lifestyle they wanted.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a job at McDonald’s, but it is really important for young people to understand the link between working hard at school, getting qualifications and leading the lifestyle they want to lead. I will never forget that they were far more engaged in that lesson than in any other lesson I taught them—probably because they were not learning about photo- synthesis, but also because the subject had such a practical impact on their lives and enabled them to see how the world works. I am convinced that financial education at school is important for children, and particularly for those who do not feel that the big careers, opportunities and qualifications are for them.

As my hon. Friend put it so eloquently, money management is such an important life skill, and there is a clear link between ending up in financial difficulty and not having good money management skills. The Centre for Social Justice, which has done some excellent work on the issue, found that 14 million people who experience financial difficulty said that that was partly because of poor money management, and young people are very much over-represented in that group.

In many ways, it is not surprising that young people lack confidence, knowledge and experience in managing money. A lot has changed over recent generations that perhaps makes young people today less confident than previous generations. First, we live in a cashless world. In previous generations, children could literally watch the money coming in and out of the home. They would have seen cash in a tin on the table or in their mum’s purse. They could touch and feel their parent’s wages as they brought them home from work. They would physically see the money supply depleting during the course of the week, and watch their parents pay the rent, pay the gas meter and put actual coins in a saving pot.

As my hon. Friend told colleagues, the Money and Pensions Service found that money habits and behaviours are generally formed in children by the age of seven and stay with them for life, but many seven-year-olds today have no understanding of where money comes from or how parents make decisions about what is spent, because that is all done virtually. There are massive advantages to that, of course. There are some brilliant money apps that help people to save and plan, and there are some great ones for children too; we use nimbl in my house, and as long as I remember to top it up before pocket money day, everybody is happy. The point is that young children do not see the money, so they are not involved in budgeting unless we explicitly include them in money handling. Otherwise, they miss an early opportunity to see how money works.

The second reason why young people lack confidence is that they enter the labour market so much later than children in previous generations. Many people my grandparents’ age started work at 15. They went out, learned a trade and brought in a wage. They had no choice but to learn how to use their wage wisely, so they had early experience of the importance of careful money management, while still having the back-up of parents. Now, with compulsory full-time education until 18 and half of young people then going into full-time higher education, today’s young people just do not have the opportunity to earn a wage and learn financial responsibility until five or sometimes even 10 years later than children in former generations. Some young people go through their entire adolescence, and into adulthood, with very little practical opportunity to learn. Again, of course, there are significant advantages to more time in formal education, but we need to be honest about the disadvantages too: the lack of real-world experience and responsibility and the lack of confidence, and the fact that those can lead to poor decision making later in life if they are not rectified.

The third reason for children and young people having lower confidence than children in previous generations, which is linked to being dependent on parents much longer, is that parenting has changed. Parents find it much harder to say no to children than in previous generations; that is just a culture change that has developed. We bail out our children far more and are reluctant to let them fail, so they miss out on the opportunity to learn important life lessons about taking responsibility and consequences earlier on in their lives. Research by the American psychologist Jonathan Haidt reveals that, in western culture, today’s 18-year-olds have the life experience of the 15-year-olds of generations ago, largely because of the way that society and parents over-protect them, including financially. As parents, we have to ask ourselves: what is the exit plan? We cannot expect children to go from handouts to careful money management and understanding pensions and interest rates on the day they leave school or university; there needs to be a gradual and deliberate passing over of risk and responsibility.

The final reason for poor money management skills in the younger generation is debt. Debt and credit have become an accepted part of household finances in a way that they were not before. In the 1980s, household debt accounted for about 30% of GDP; now it is well over 80%. Of course, the boom in property prices has added significant debt to household budgets, but with the availability of credit cards and the lack of stigma about debt, it is hard for children to learn the true consequences of not managing money properly—until it is too late. For young people today, the inevitability of student debt means that a huge proportion start their adult lives in debt—a debt that many never repay. It is then difficult for young people to be hopeful about their financial situation. When they know they are in the red, how do they resist taking on more debt? How do they resist one more latte, when they know they will never be able to afford a house, and when there is no possibility of paying off their student loan for an awfully long time? Starting adult life in debt, which is now prevalent, is the worst possible foundation for a sound financial life. It also misleads young people, because other debts are not like that. If they take on a mortgage or take out a car loan, they have to pay it back regardless of their income and it will not be cancelled when they retire.

What do we need to do? Let us leave the issue of student loans for another day. As with all teaching of skills and values, education starts at home, and it is primarily the role of parents to show children how to manage money. We need to think collectively as parents about how we do that in a digital age. I am sure it is possible but it needs to be deliberate.

Board games are a brilliant way to learn, although Monopoly probably puts younger children off capitalism for life. Imagination Gaming, a brilliant group in my constituency, goes into schools and does board games with children. That teach them not just maths, numeracy and financial ability but collaborative and social skills. So board games are really helpful.

However, there is an important role for schools, as part of their duty to prepare people for adult life, and also to break the cycle in families where there is not sound financial management, so that that skill can then be passed on. I agree that adding the topic to the curriculum in 2014 was a good start but, as my hon. Friend said, it is not being delivered. Citizenship is often not taught by experts and is not examined. It is understandable, given the pressure schools are under, that it is not a top priority. So my suggestion, which is similar to my hon. Friend’s, would be to put it on the maths curriculum, each and every year, from foundation stage all the way to school leaving. If we start with simple budget calculations, by their mid-teens pupils can have an understanding of mortgages, interest, shares, bonds and pensions.

Money is all about maths and mental arithmetic, and children love handling money. As we have heard, and as I have experienced, children are very engaged when the lesson is important to their future lives. If we embed financial education in a core and examined subject in the curriculum, it will be taught. I appreciate that many teachers might need upskilling and their confidence boosting, but for many children it could make the difference between a confident, successful life and one of debt and misery.

We should also explore ways that schools can offer more practical experience, such as through young enterprise clubs or having an internal market for tuck shops and other such things. In my hon. Friend’s briefing, I read about the brilliant example of Queensmead Primary Academy in Leicester, which created an entire school market for its year 6 pupils.

We absolutely must see financial education as a core subject in schools and the home. Then we will be giving children the secure, firm foundation they need for a life, hopefully, of financial confidence and security.

Photo of Seema Malhotra Seema Malhotra Shadow Minister (Education) 10:02, 6 September 2023

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairship, Dame Angela. I congratulate Jerome Mayhew on securing this important debate. I support his calls for greater awareness and more ways to embed financial education in our school curriculums and for the resources to help deliver that. He laid out a strong case in terms of the impact on young people’s lives.

I, too, had no financial education at school. Two parts in my life were instructive. The first was when I opened my first bank account as a child. I remember the Midland bank and the sports bag I was given. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but that was a physical thing, with a pencil case, clipboard and folder in it, and it was symbolic to me of growing up. With that, come new conversations.

The second involved my father, an engineer who became a small businessman. We grew up above our shop, so we had a sense of the transactions within it. My father went on to become an independent financial adviser. He worked from home, and hearing conversations about personal equity plans and ISAs in the home environment does create an awareness of those things. The hon. Member is right, and those of us who have worked cross-party on some of these issues recognise, that that awareness of and contact with such discussions and debates is extremely important from a young age.

The debate comes in the midst of a cost of living crisis, where people are having to consider more than ever their budgeting skills, their use of credit and debt and their savings. In the 2022-23 young persons’ money index, 70% of young people said they were more anxious about money and finances due to the cost of living crisis. That rose to 83% for 17 to 18-year-olds. That is hugely instructive. Alongside the conversations about how much to save at the age of 18—every pound saved at the age of 18 is going to have a much bigger impact on a pension than one saved in later years—we also have to recognise that young people are struggling so much to make ends meet for themselves and their families that some of these conversations can be lost. We have to make sure that we embed skills for life in our education and have policies that make sure people can save from an earlier age.

Helping to build an understanding of financial matters, advice and support, and resilience is exactly what financial education teaches. It is a tool of financial inclusion. I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests, where I have recorded that I am a commissioner on the Financial Inclusion Commission. We know that, without vital early education, young people are likely to struggle to achieve financial literacy as part of their life skills.

The hon. Member for Broadland referenced the University of Cambridge research, which shows that children establish attitudes to money by the age of seven and behaviours towards money by the age of 14. Even if there is financial education in schools, those attitudes are increasingly important for understanding how much young people will take it on board and choose to engage with it. Headteachers tell me that young people are making choices about the value of their education at a much younger age—even from 11 or 12. We have to think about that when looking at primary schools, and I will reference primary schools in my constituency.

It is important to see the impact of apps such as GoHenry, which my nephew, Karan, uses. I am still a bit old-fashioned—I like to hold physical things. It is, however, impactful and important to have new ways in which young people are thinking about their finances. The Money and Pensions Service has set a national goal to see 2 million more children and young people getting a meaningful financial education by 2030. I would like to see that goal accelerated.

Financial education is hugely significant because it is also part of the social mobility puzzle. The Centre for Financial Capability has found that children with low financial literary scores tend to come from poorer areas, but education can see savings rise significantly. We have made progress, but I would argue that it is not enough. It is important that we find new ways to tackle the challenges to effective delivery of financial education.

Although financial education now has a limited statutory status in secondary schools, a survey of teachers for the all-party parliamentary group on financial education for young people—as the hon. Member for Broadland will know—found that two fifths or so of teachers are unaware of their statutory duty to deliver financial education. Among those who are currently not delivering financial education in schools, training, time and funding were identified as key barriers.

I want to thank some of the providers and campaigners for change, such as Quentin Nason of City Pay It Forward, which partners state schools with finance and business professionals to help make connections for financial education and show what it can mean in terms of the professions that young people might choose later in life. However, charities and the private sector should not be picking up the pieces as a result of Government neglect, and nor should they be addressing the difficulty of implementing financial education for our schools and teachers. There needs to be a bigger plan. Some of the issues raised by other experts have included the experience of teaching in schools being variable; resources being fragmented; teachers not having confidence; and schools still being stuck in covid recovery, which is impacting what they see as extras to the curriculum.

I will share a few bits of feedback that I have had from schools in my constituency. A good example comes from Isleworth & Syon School, which is just outside my constituency, but a lot of my young people will be going there. There is a positive story there about formal, structured units of learning on financial literacy in year 10. Every student receives lessons over eight weeks in year 10, covering topics such as wages, tax, budgeting, debt and borrowing, and ethical consumerism. Sixth-form students receive additional lessons on budgeting before they head off to university or apprenticeships. The importance of the integrating financial education within the wider curriculum is also recognised, including in weekly maths lessons, where it can have an impact, and within economics and business lessons.

Other headteachers, however, have said that although that is important, it does not cover everybody, and we need to have a broader and more consistent view for pupils across our education system. One school told me about the positive impact of Martin Lewis’s donation of class textbooks to every state secondary school about four years ago. They are still being used, because they provide invaluable guidance both for students and for personal, social, health and economic education teachers. I pay tribute to Martin Lewis for his efforts in this regard.

When I asked schools about the impact of financial education on pupils, the response was very interesting. The feedback was that pupils really liked to learn about financial topics; teachers say they know that because the pupils asked many more questions and gave really good feedback at the end of the sessions. However, schools also recognise that it takes highly skilled teachers to teach these topics well, and they struggle to access and afford those teachers.

I was also very interested to hear from Cranford Community College and Logic Studio School in my constituency. Logic Studio School runs an investment club and wants to see all of its pupils becoming financially literate. It says that financial literacy is a non-negotiable skill that we must all acquire, which it believes can be achieved only by making financial literacy a focus in education. It talks about partnerships with charities such as MyBnk and with Quilter asset management to give students a stronger background—but, again, that is piecemeal and based on whatever it can manage within the constraints of the wider school context.

Primary schools are also vital. Southville Primary School shared with me details of how, within its PSHE teaching, it encourages children to explore money and shopping, including where people get their money from and different sources of income. It has also participated in Young Enterprise Week, whereby groups of year 6 students are given a small budget and have to invest it in developing a product or service. I pay tribute to Young Enterprise in its 60th anniversary year. The all-party parliamentary group on entrepreneurship, which I chair, launched a very important report with Young Enterprise on applied learning, with recommendations that I hope the Government will continue to assess.

Financial education must be considered in the context of broader challenges that we cannot ignore. When we talk about the quality of teaching, we must recognise that teacher vacancies have more than doubled under this Government. There are more than 2,000 temporarily filled posts a year, teacher recruitment targets have been missed again and more teachers are leaving our classrooms than entering them. Earlier this summer, teachers in Hounslow told me that there were about 1,100 vacancies for teachers within a 10-mile radius.

It is not just about recruiting teachers. The lack of retention of teachers is also causing huge instability when it comes to important learning in our schools. That is why what Labour has outlined, including using the money from ending private schools’ tax breaks to support recruitment in our schools to plug the skills gaps, is really important for how we deliver education. That has to be part of the context in which the Minister responds.

I am also very proud that Labour has announced that it would urgently commission a full expert-led review of curriculum and assessment, to ensure that every child has a broad curriculum. Under Labour, young people will learn practical life skills of the kind that the hon. Member for Broadland outlined, such as pension planning, understanding credit scores, applying for a mortgage and understanding employment and rental contracts.

Financial literacy is more important than ever. It is not just about numbers; it is about life skills, security and future opportunities. It is also about us, as policymakers, being ambitious for our young people and their future, and about recognising that financial education is a key part of how we close the prosperity gap rather than increasing inequality for future generations. It is vital that we equip our young people, such as those in Feltham and Heston, with the financial education that will stay with them for life.

Photo of Andy Carter Andy Carter Conservative, Warrington South 10:14, 6 September 2023

It is a pleasure to follow Seema Malhotra. I extend my gratitude to my hon. Friend Jerome Mayhew for securing this really important debate. I am grateful to him for the opportunity to talk about financial education. I echo so much of what he said; I have scribbled some of it down and crossed out some of my notes, because I do not want to spend a lot of time repeating the points that he made so well.

I think everybody here wants to ensure that children leave school with the skills and knowledge that will equip them for their adult lives. However, I am afraid that too often it can seem that some of the most obvious life skills are not being given sufficient prominence, and in some cases are being completely overlooked, during young people’s time in schools. The most obvious is learning about basic finances. By that, I mean not just personal finances, but macrofinance—I will talk a little more about that—and the finance of business.

I am glad to add my support to the comments of the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston about Young Enterprise, which I was fortunate to be part of when I was at school. The more I look back on it, the more I think it was incredibly instructive in helping me to go on to be involved in business. I did not realise at the time the level of applied learning involved in the programme: it was hidden in an arts and crafts lesson, where we were encouraged to make candles. I may be the least creative, arts-and-crafty person hon. Members will ever meet— I managed to spill more of the wax I melted on the floor than into the moulds. Yet on the back of that, we were encouraged to come together and form a small business to sell some candles we had created at the school’s Christmas market. The programme had us forming a little company that could issue some shares and distribute the profits as and when we had managed to sell all our candles.

In the run-up to the Christmas holidays, I remember seeing rows and rows of candles. It dawned on me that we would have quite a lot of stock left over if the parents I hoped would turn up did not like the products we were creating. At that point, we were hit by the worst snow the country had faced for a decade, I think, and the lights went out. The headteacher approached the little Young Enterprise company we had set up and offered to buy every single candle we had made. That was when I learned how to negotiate with the education sector—I am happy to give the Minister some advice if he needs it at any point—and that when you have something that everybody else wants but there is a limited supply, you can control the price. We got double the amount that we had expected to make on those candles. Every classroom had one—indeed, every teacher had a candle issued as part of their Christmas holiday gift so that when the lights were out at home, they could light the candle and have a little bit of light from our Young Enterprise company. We learned a huge amount. Looking back, the school’s work on applied learning was incredibly creatively done.

I talk today to young people in schools about how business is conducted and how they can use their ideas to generate wealth, but there is a lack of understanding in too many of our schools. Too often, unfortunately, I meet constituents who have fallen into the spiral of debt and are often going to loan sharks and illegal moneylenders to try to get themselves out of very difficult situations. As my hon. Friend the Member for Broadland mentioned earlier, it is not just about the constant nagging of trying to pay off those debts, but about the impact that that has on mental health. We have a responsibility to increase financial literacy in our schools.

On Monday, before I came here, I met Angela Fishwick, the chief executive of the credit union in Warrington. She talked to me about some of the excellent work that she is doing in schools, helping at a primary level to encourage children to save. I remember signing up for my Griffin savers account with Midland bank, like the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston, and being given a bag and a clipboard. I also remember being an investor in NatWest, where I was given a piggybank to put money into. Saving money was a physical job. The more money I saved, the more piggybanks I got. I still have them at home, and my son, who is 15, looks at them and thinks, “What do you put in there?”, because we do not have money in the same way now.

As my hon. Friend Miriam Cates mentioned, the way we transact has changed. Everything is done through digital transactions and the ability to save physical cash has gone. However, the Unify credit union is still enabling that in schools. The ability to put a pound into an account at a very early age and see it grow is incredibly important. I was pleased to hear about the work Angela Fishwick is doing in schools, delving into some of the most basic elements of financial literacy in primary schools to encourage children to save early. Talking to her reinforced to me the important role finances play in every part of our lives, whether that is paying taxes, opening a bank account, taking out a mortgage or even just budgeting for the weekly shop. It really does affect everyone.

Financial education is not just about personal financial education; it is also about macroeconomics. I try to visit a different school in my constituency every week and talk to students about the topics that they would like to cover more of in lessons. Students in the early years of secondary school in particular often talk about the importance of financial education—they do not call it financial education, but they talk about those issues.

Recently, in an English lesson, students at the high school in Appleton wrote to me as their MP about changes they wanted to see in their school. A couple of the boys wanted more goalposts, more footballs and better facilities. I took the opportunity to meet them, and we talked about the cost of all those things. They wanted me to give them the money—because I am the MP, and I have lots of money available to me—so they could buy new equipment.

We talked about the taxation system and where money comes from to fund the services in their town that they enjoy and benefit from. It was fascinating to see the level of ignorance about where public funding comes from. I remember saying to them, “The Government have no money. The only money the Government have is our money, and the only way they generate money is by taxes. When you go to work, you’re going to contribute your taxes. The more you earn, the more you’re going to contribute.” I could see their faces changing very quickly. The idea of paying into this system was not something that they were aware of.

My hon. Friend the Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge mentioned that so many young people today do not go to work before the age of 18. I started in a shop when I was 16, and I remember receiving my payslip very early on and seeing that tax had been taken out of it. At the time, tax thresholds were very low and people did not have to earn very much—in fact, I think I was on an emergency tax code from day one. A big chunk of what I earned got taken away from me, and that brought home to me very early our impact and how we contribute to society. If we want to see benefits in our community, we have to contribute to it.

It is not just about personal contributions; it is about community contributions as well. Young people do not see that in the same way, because the tax thresholds that the Conservative Government have lifted to £12,000 mean that the majority of young people who are earning today will pay absolutely no tax until they get past university education. Understanding the tax system would have been an important and practical thing for many young people, but that has changed—it has gone.

I want to conclude by asking the Minister a couple of questions. It is interesting to see the lack of understanding about financial education in schools, but I want to know what support and training is on offer to teachers, who are instrumental in helping. What partnerships is he encouraging with business and organisations such as Young Enterprise to help to skill teachers, many of whom have spent their entire working lives in the education system, do not have a background in business and cannot talk with authority about the issues that affect business? Does he agree that what we have classed as macroeconomics—the taxation system and the way we fund services—should be taught to everybody as they go through school, not just to those who study economics at A-level? I remember doing A-level economics and spending a lot of time talking about the tax system. If students do not study economics, they do not get any education in it at all. For me, it is a matter not just of financial education, but of understanding our democracy and how we all contribute to society.

I will not take up too much more time; I am keen to hear what other Members have to say. Ultimately, we could make a huge difference to young people’s lives by championing the issue, which is undoubtedly something that Members of all parties can support.

Photo of Marion Fellows Marion Fellows Scottish National Party, Motherwell and Wishaw 10:26, 6 September 2023

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Angela.

I am delighted to be here this morning. I declare an interest as a vice-chair, since 2015, of the all-party parliamentary group on financial education for young people. I sometimes feel a bit of a fraud when I talk about financial education and financial matters. I was married for 47 years to a senior tax manager in a firm of international accountants and we were terrible at handling money. That was very much down to my late husband’s philosophy, which was, “Don’t worry about money. It only matters when somebody owes you and you’re not getting it.” I can now say this in public because, as many Members will know, my husband died five years ago.

I grew up in a poor family, and I identify with the point that Miriam Cates made about jars. That was how my mammy managed money. It is not how my children manage money, and it is not how I do it now.

I congratulate Jerome Mayhew, the chair of the APPG, on his good work and on getting the debate today. It is one of those debates in Westminster Hall about which we can think, “9.30 on a Tuesday morning and a late night—oh my goodness,” even though I am passionate about the subject. However, every contributor so far has touched on different aspects and the debate has been really well rounded. I may now not live up to expectations! I thank the Centre for Social Justice, which sent me a briefing, and the Money and Pensions Service for its briefing.

As many Members know, education is devolved in Scotland. We have already incorporated financial education into both the primary and the secondary school curriculums, and we have taken a lead in embedding money management in other aspects of the curriculum. I say this a lot: we do some things differently in Scotland and sometimes that is better. Rather than looking “abroad abroad”, perhaps the Government could look at what is being done in Scotland and learn from it. It is a lot cheaper to travel there and it is much easier to talk to folk in Scotland, although we may have a slightly different accent and sometimes our English is not always so intelligible.

Strong financial education is increasingly important in a financial crisis. It is important that people—especially young people, for all the reasons Members have given—have a sound financial backing. I know that many people are suffering. Much of my constituency is in areas of multiple deprivation, and money really matters. It is so important that our constituents know how to manage money better. We all—not just our constituents—need to know how to manage money and use it to best effect. It is very difficult for young people in some areas to understand how money works, because of digital money. I am very fortunate that two of my granddaughters have GoHenry cards that they understand and use, but I know that many of my constituents have never heard of things like that. They do not understand what is happening and, where there is no access to cash, they are really struggling. It is such a trigger.

The hon. Member for Broadland talked about the mental health aspects of bad financial management and how, if people get themselves into a debt spiral, it becomes more and more difficult to get out. Although there are good local services—in my own constituency, the local council has a tackling poverty team—those in debt sometimes cannot see any way out. It is really important that we give people the tools for now and for the future to enable them to manage money wisely.

It is also very important that people understand the consequences of spending. When I was a further education lecturer at West Lothian College—a number of years ago, it has to be said—I was absolutely appalled at how little my students, who ranged in age from 16 to 60, knew about money management. They had not even heard of things like annual percentage rates. They did not understand the huge amount more that they had to pay because they were buying things on credit and that, if they were able to save, they could have got them much cheaper. That is still the case for many of our poorest people in society. There is a poverty premium. People pay more for accessing services and paying for energy simply because they are poor. We have talked about how we are moving to digital money: so many people are digitally excluded right across the UK, so they are doubly impacted.

Pennies and pounds are lost through misspending. The hon. Member for Penistone and Stocksbridge said that it is another latte; that is a real thing because young people nowadays almost no longer have the ability to save money and earn more. Furthermore, when they come out of university in England—I have to make this point—they are seriously in debt. Students in Scotland come out of university and college in debt as well but not by nearly as much because tertiary education is free in Scotland.

It is vital not only that we put financial education on the curriculum but that it is properly delivered. I want to pay real tribute to MyBnk and to Young Enterprise, mentioned by Andy Carter. My children also benefited from that kind of thing. In our case, the house smelled of potpourri for years afterwards. It is important that we do all of this. Many external partners do really good work, and teachers would not necessarily inevitably have to take on a further burden. I went to visit MyBnk in its flat in Glasgow. It does great work with care leavers, which the APPG has looked at in the past. They leave care with absolutely no one to help them. It is slightly different now as the age for care support has been increased. I know in Scotland it is 25; I think it has been increased here, too. We need to help those people in that huge area.

I know that I am going slightly off brief, but it is really important that we not just educate young people but reach out and show them—as an organisation, as Parliament—the consequences of the mismanagement of cash. I do not want to see any other generation growing up without understanding where money comes from, how important it is to manage it properly and how important savings are. I now know that. I have learned through bitter experience how important it is.

It is also about making sure that the future is better for all our people. However, it has to be said that there are swathes of the population—here I stray slightly into my disabilities portfolio—for whom it is absolutely impossible to save. They have to juggle money every day to make it stretch as far as they can, and no matter how much work we do here, that will always be the case. That is another seriously good reason why people need financial education for when they find themselves facing a change of life, because it can happen to any of us. I lived for many years from one salary to the next. There was nothing behind. If either I or my husband fell ill or had to give up work, there was no cushion. We have to have financial education so that we can provide cushions for people and so that they can find them when times are tough. As a Government and a Parliament, we also need to provide a sound financial base for those who cannot work and who will therefore still need financial education to enable them to live well.

Photo of Catherine McKinnell Catherine McKinnell Chair, Petitions Committee, Chair, Petitions Committee, Shadow Minister (Education) (Schools) 10:36, 6 September 2023

It is a real pleasure to serve under you as Chair, Dame Angela. I am really delighted to take on this role as shadow schools Minister, as part of Labour’s education team. I have long believed that every child deserves the best start in life. Ensuring that we have the best schools and the best education and support for all children is key to ensuring that.

I thank Jerome Mayhew for securing this debate and opening it so thoroughly and for his work on the all-party parliamentary group on financial education for young people. He made a compelling case and set out the issues very clearly indeed. I also pay tribute to the teachers, school staff and charities across the country—which many hon. Members have mentioned—that are working really hard to improve the financial literacy of our young people.

The purpose of education should be to enable young people to understand the world around them, to explore and develop their interests and to prepare them for their futures with the knowledge and skills they will need to thrive throughout life. We know—we have heard many testimonies today—that managing money is fundamental to a person’s stability and security. Whether it is working out prices in a supermarket—no tall order—managing a household budget or figuring out the terms of a mortgage or loan, everybody, regardless of their background, needs to be equipped to make these everyday financial decisions. We have heard the evidence: people who are financially literate are much more likely to have savings, to avoid scams and fraud and to invest their money effectively. This should not be left to chance. Financial literacy is important not just to households, but to our society.

We have heard compelling speeches from all Members who have contributed to today’s debate—my hon. Friend Seema Malhotra and the hon. Members for Penistone and Stocksbridge (Miriam Cates) and for Warrington South (Andy Carter), as well as Mr Campbell, who contributed previously. This is clearly an issue on which there is a lot of cross-party agreement. A lot of thought and consideration has gone into where we are currently. We need our economy to grow. Giving financial literacy to more people in our society, and everyone as they grow, will equip them to start new businesses, taking them from start to scale-up, to help to grow our economy and pay for the public services that we all need.

As things stand, too many young people are leaving school without these skills. A number of facts and figures have been given today, but the one that really jumped out at me is the OECD figure that an estimated 10 million people in the UK—a fifth of all adults—are financially illiterate. It is shocking and alarming. The UK ranks in the bottom half of OECD countries in financial literacy. We know that that has consequences not just for those individuals who potentially live in constant financial insecurity, but for our whole economy. Almost 13 million adults struggle to pay their bills—today—and more than half of adults do not have savings that could support them for three months if they lost their primary income. We know that life is becoming increasingly hard as we sit here, day by day, for families up and down the country. We know that the hardest hit people will be those whose budgets are the most stretched and for whom money does not go as far as it used to; they are the ones missing out most on financial education.

As we heard from the hon. Member for Broadland, financial education is patchy across the country, and many schools struggle to teach it. Far too many young people leave school without these skills for life. Only 8% of students cite school as their main source of financial education. A Bank of England survey in March found that almost two thirds of teachers cited a lack of dedicated time in the timetable for delivery. In personal, social, health and economic education, the economic too often drops off the end. That is storing up problems for the future.

Young people say that they want to be taught more life skills in school. The Centre for Social Justice conducted a survey, and four in five said that they worried about money. I hear that from schoolchildren when I visit schools in my local area. Two in three say that they have become more anxious about money as a result of covid. Three in four say that they want to learn more about money—and probably about more money—at school, yet Ofsted has found that there is a postcode lottery in the teaching of financial education and the most disadvantaged are missing out. It is not good enough, and it is storing up problems for the future.

A key part of the current financial literacy strategy comes from the mathematics curriculum, which is supposed to ensure that young people leave school with an understanding of personal financial management and the skills that they need for it. However, the Government have failed to recruit and retain teachers, meaning that one in 10 maths lessons in the past year have been taught by a non-expert. That means that the high standards we want for all our children are being delivered for only some of our children. It is not good enough, and it is storing up problems for the future. That is why the next Labour Government will urgently commission a full, expert-led review of the curriculum and assessment. We need a curriculum that is broad, rich, innovative and develops children’s knowledge and skills—a curriculum that ensures children leave school ready for life and builds on the knowledge, skills and attributes that they need to survive. Labour’s curriculum review will look to embed those skills in everyday learning.

Following Labour’s review of all state schools, including academies, they will be required to teach a core national curriculum, so that every parent knows the essentials of what their child will be taught: there will be a common national standard that gives parents and children certainty. Labour will ensure that children are taught those lessons properly. It means being taught by experts, not by overstretched teachers covering for their colleagues. We will do it by recruiting thousands of new teachers across the country and ensuring that all schools are properly staffed, that maths classes are taught by trained maths teachers and that teachers are given manageable workloads, no longer covering their own job and someone else’s.

Education is about opportunity. It is about opportunity for each of us—all of us—our whole lives long. It should enable us to develop the knowledge and skills to explore our interests and thrive throughout life. It is our duty and the Government’s duty to ensure that young people do not miss out on that opportunity. I hope that the Minister will outline what the Government are doing to ensure that every child leaves education financially literate and whether the Government will give parents the certainty of knowing that every school follows an agreed, shared national curriculum. I hope the Minister will reassure us that the Government are listening to the important contributions that have been made today and, again, I thank the hon. Member for Broadland for securing the debate.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education) 10:45, 6 September 2023

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Dame Angela. I congratulate Catherine McKinnell on her appointment as shadow Minister for Schools. I look forward to working with her and debating all these important subjects with her. I also congratulate my hon. Friend Jerome Mayhew on securing the debate and on the important points that he made in his opening speech. I thank him and the all-party group on financial education for young people for their work on this important issue.

My hon. Friend Andy Carter, also known as Jo Malone, gave an instructive example of young enterprise and how he gouged his school’s finances. As my hon. Friend the Member for Broadland said, evidence shows that the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour that help people to manage money and achieve good financial wellbeing begin to develop from an early age and continue throughout childhood and the teenage years.

Good maths is the gateway to lifelong financial stability. Evidence from the 2018 programme for international student assessment—PISA—shows that there is a strong correlation between performance in financial literacy and performance in mathematics. The correlation was observed in every participating country. There was also a positive correlation between financial literacy and learning finance-related terms at school.

Since 2010 we have made significant progress in ensuring that pupils have a strong grasp of the basics by transforming the way that maths is taught in schools. To ensure the curriculum is taught effectively, we introduced teaching methods used by top performing countries, particularly in east Asia. The concept of maths mastery aims to ensure that all pupils secure a deep knowledge and understanding of mathematics.

The results of international surveys show that England performs above the international averages for maths in all international studies of school-age pupils. In particular, analysis of PISA 2018 results showed that the performance of 15-year-olds improved significantly in maths, and the trends in international mathematics and science study, known as TIMSS, showed that the performance of England’s year 5 pupils was significantly higher in 2019 than in any previous TIMSS survey. The 2023 Ofsted maths subject report also highlights “notable improvements” at secondary, with a “resounding, positive shift” taking place in primary mathematics over recent years.

Our national network of 40 maths hubs also supports schools to improve their maths teaching, including financial content in the mathematics curriculum, based on best practice from east Asia. To build on progress, the Secretary of State recently announced that we will increase the number of schools supported by the maths hubs’ teaching for mastery programme so that we reach 75% of primary schools and 65% of secondary schools by 2025.

We want pupils to leave school prepared in the widest sense for adult life. From early years onwards, all children should be taught a broad, ambitious, knowledge-rich curriculum, of which quality financial education is an important component. That ensures that all young people are prepared to manage money and make sound financial decisions. Financial knowledge already forms a compulsory part of the national curriculum for maths at key stages 1 to 4 and citizenship at key stages 3 and 4.

I was delighted to hear from Seema Malhotra about the success of Martin Lewis’s textbook in schools. It is a knowledge-rich textbook and is a primer to the introduction of financial education and the vocabulary of finance.

In the primary maths curriculum there is a strong emphasis on the essential maths that is vital to underpin pupils’ ability to manage budgets and money, including, for example, calculations with percentages. The secondary maths curriculum develops students’ use of formal maths knowledge to interpret and solve problems such as interest rates and compound interest.

The primary citizenship programme of study equips pupils to understand the sources and purpose of money and the benefits of saving. It makes it clear that financial contexts are useful for learning about making choices and exploring social and moral dilemmas. The secondary citizenship curriculum prepares students to manage their money well and plan for future financial needs, and key stage 3 covers the functions and uses of money, day-to-day money management, budgeting and managing risk. Key stage 4 covers income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance, savings, pensions, and financial products and services.

My hon. Friend Miriam Cates raised concerns about online issues. Using technology safely and responsibly is now taught at all key stages of the computing curriculum, which provides pupils with the e-safety knowledge that they need to make informed decisions while online or using other digital applications and technologies, including in financial contexts. Through statutory relationships, sex and health education, or RSHE, pupils are taught about internet safety and online harms, such as the risks associated with online gambling and the accumulation of debt. The RSHE curriculum is currently being reviewed, and revised guidance will be published next year.

The 2020 UK strategy for financial wellbeing set a national goal of 2 million more children and young people receiving a meaningful financial education by 2030. The Money and Pensions Service has a statutory duty to co-ordinate the work of the numerous organisations involved in delivering that goal. The service recently published the UK children and young people’s financial wellbeing survey, which provides an initial analysis of the progress made towards that national goal. The report found that in 2022 just under half of children and young people aged seven to 17 were receiving a meaningful financial education as defined by the strategy. That is a similar proportion to 2019, which suggests that progress towards the national goal remains static, as my hon. Friend the Member for Broadland mentioned.

There are positive signs that some of the organisations working towards the national goal have delivered financial education lessons to more young people. For example, the work of UK Finance members, which include banks and other financial services, provided 4,300—sorry, 4 million; I think I need some financial education myself. Some 4,307,000 children received a financial education in a school or community setting in 2022, an increase of 63% on 2021. Other evidence from the Money and Pensions Service shows that too many young people are entering adulthood without the knowledge and understanding they need to manage money well. For example, just over half of young people aged 16 and 17 are unable to read a payslip correctly, almost three in 10 are unable to correctly identify the terms for interest and balance, and around a fifth report feeling anxious when thinking about their money, which rises to 50% for 18 to 24-year-olds.

My hon. Friend the Member for Broadland mentioned the APPG report and the fact that 41% of participating secondary school teachers did not know that financial education was required to be taught under the national curriculum. The Department’s survey found that 69% of secondary schools taught money management to pupils last year, but that suggests that more needs to be done. That is why the work of the Money and Pensions Service, through its data collection, national strategy and delivery plans, is so important, and why we continue to work closely with the service and other Government Departments. We are also using Oak National Academy; it will be producing materials for citizenship and expects to launch the procurement for that next year.

My hon. Friend also raised the issue of teacher training. Of course, recruiting and retaining teachers is crucial to every curriculum subject, and the Department is driving an ambitious transformation programme to overhaul the process of training to be a teacher. That includes stimulating initial interest through the teaching and marketing campaign, one-to-one support and advice for prospective trainees, and the use of more real-time data on applications. The Department has also made a financial incentive package, which is worth up to £181 million, to encourage people to come into teaching. Recruitment to citizenship teacher training courses is unrestricted—there are no caps on it—which means that initial teacher training providers are free to recruit as many future citizenship teachers as they can teach.

The Money and Pensions Service is investing over £1 million through a grant programme that includes testing approaches to embedding and scaling teacher training in financial education. These projects will run until March next year, with evaluation findings for the programme expected in that year. The Prime Minister and the Secretary of State recently announced the launch of a new fully-funded national professional qualification to be available from February next year that will focus on leadership and teach participants how to embed mastery approaches to the teaching of mathematics throughout a school.

Finally—so that I can give my hon. Friend the Member for Broadland a moment to summarise the debate— I reiterate the Government’s commitment to ensuring that all children should be taught a broad, ambitious and knowledge-rich curriculum. Financial education already forms a mandatory part of the national curriculum for mathematics and for citizenship, and rooting financial education in these subjects ensures that the curriculum remains focused on the important knowledge that pupils need to manage their money with confidence.

We have made positive progress in improving attainment in mathematics, which underpins financial application. It is important, though, to build on that success, which is why we are striving to improve financial capability, including through the maths to 18 programme launched by the Prime Minister recently, Oak Academy resources, and the recruitment and retention of excellent teachers. To do this, we need to continue to work closely across Government and in partnership with others. It is right that we approach this in a co-ordinated and joined up way through the work of the Money and Pensions Service’s UK strategy and delivery plan for England.

Photo of Jerome Mayhew Jerome Mayhew Conservative, Broadland 10:56, 6 September 2023

I have a number of thank yous, alongside those to hon. Members for their excellent contributions. I thank Young Enterprise—which provides the secretariat for the APPG on financial education for young people—and the Centre for Social Justice, the Money and Pensions Service and the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries for their briefings. The latter highlighted a point that has not been brought out in the debate so far: the transfer of risk from organisations to individuals, particularly in pensions, which has accelerated as we have moved towards defined contribution pensions and the ability to sell out our pensions at an earlier stage.

Financial education is a hugely important subject and it has been treated as such by all contributors. My hon. Friend Miriam Cates brought to the debate her experience as a teacher. Seema Malhotra talked about the skills for life, and the need to use financial education as a tool for social mobility and to close the prosperity gap. My hon. Friend Andy Carter mentioned important lessons on macroeconomics and tax, which may veer into politics in schools.

Marion Fellows shared her experience as an FE lecturer and spoke about the poverty premium. That is a really important point; there is a poverty premium in this country, and financial education is the kind of subject that can help to address it. I congratulate Catherine McKinnell on her new position, and thank her for bringing her perspective.

Finally, I thank the Minister for engaging with me on this subject. There is so much agreement on the state of the problem, but in my submission there is more work to be done on the strength of the answer. I recognise the work of the Money and Pensions Service, and I hear with interest the plans for the Oak National Academy and the new work it has planned for next year. I look forward to many further discussions as we work together to improve in this policy area.

Question put and agreed to.


That this House
has considered financial education in schools.