I have been through the education system as a pupil (granted a long time ago), as a parent (recently), as an Early Years Worker and as the relative and friend of teachers in both Primary and Secondary Education. I know that the curriculum is packed, I know that teachers are under pressure to do more.
BUT I feel that there is one area that we fail our children in, big time.
I am catching up on some of the programmes that I have recorded. One of these is the Famous & Hungry for Sports Relief. All of these stories have debt at the root of the problem. Actual debt, or a fear of debt.
The programme has re-confirmed to me that what is needed in our Schools is a financial education section in Life Skills .
One which deals with budgeting, with loans, how to run a bank account, how to balance the books, how to forecast, with not getting involved in loan sharks, with how to fill in government forms, how to avoid debt, how to cook cheaply and with nutritious food. How to prioritize, how to make food spread, how to use leftovers, how to spot value, how to spot when you have been ripped off. These are not necessarily lessons that can be learned at home. If you are living in a family who struggle to manage their finances then you may not learn the right way to deal with these issues.
Using proper terms, not wrapping it up in equations, using terms or references that children won’t understand. This can be done from an early stage, under fives can be taught about money. That everything has a price. That money only goes so far. Playing shops, playing house, playing at work and being paid for work to spend in the shop. As they grow older they can earn pocket money, save for items they want. In Secondary Education pupils can learn about bank accounts, about earning income, about not overspending, about how much things cost. Things they take for granted, like mobile phones, like satellite TV, like clothes, like drinks, sweets.
This is something we have tried to instill in our children as we have brought them up. I do wonder in some ways if attitudes to money are inherited. Nature not Nurture. My father was bad with money. I was bad with money. I have got much better. But it is a constant battle. I have a fear of debt. I have a fear of not being able to pay the bills, of losing the house, of not being able to eat.
I am luckier than most. We have income, we are able to budget, we are able to shop wisely. BUT I worry about when I am old, when our income is reduced, will we still be able to afford the things we want to do? to buy? I hope so. I learned my lessons growing up, and at School where I learned to cook the basics. I could have done with learning more.