A new report shows that almost half of school students (48%) want to be taught personal finance in school, but the majority feel they are not currently gaining the necessary financial management skills.
65% of children said that school is not teaching them these core skills. The GoStudent Future of Education Report 2023 found that finance was one of the subjects students wanted to feature more prominently on the curriculum, tied with video game programming and ahead of AI.
UK parents rank the highest in Europe when it comes to wanting personal finance to be taught in school. 91% of parents in the UK think personal finance deserves to be on the curriculum, compared to the European average response of 79%.
However, they also recognise the need for schools to contribute further to the financial and life-readiness education of their children — 55% of parents completely trust the school and its school system to prepare their child for the future.
The data, gathered by online tutoring provider, GoStudent, surveyed over 6,000 parents, guardians and their children across 6 European countries, including the UK, to find out what they think about the current education system and what they would like to change for the future. Personal finance came out as a top priority.
The requirements to include financial education in the curriculum vary across the UK. In England, for example, financial capability is included in the national curriculum in secondary schools only. However, two-fifths of teachers do not know financial education is a legal curriculum requirement.* Students and parents are also showing a desire for finance to be given more importance at school.
Current school students believe that the UK education system is leaving them underprepared for life after school. Only 1 in 5 children (23%) think that school is teaching them everything they need to prepare them for the future, and over half (57%) think that school alone is not preparing them for their dream job.
Felix Ohswald, CEO and co-founder at GoStudent, says: “Financial education and personal finance are essential topics for future generations, including Gen Z and Gen Alpha. The ability to manage your finances effectively is a fundamental life skill. We need to ensure that young people have access to the tools and resources they need to learn about budgeting, saving, investing, and managing debt. By equipping them with this knowledge, they will be able to make informed financial decisions that will benefit them throughout their lives.
“As educators and mentors, it’s essential that parents and teachers leverage children’s natural interest in finance. Financial literacy shouldn’t be optional – it’s a must-have skill that will enable today’s children to build a stable financial future.”
Nerys Steventon, a Teach First Careers Leader in Cheshire, says: “Currently in schools, personal finance education is often a small element of the personal, social, health and economic (PHSE) curriculum, and can be seen as non-essential learning within an already overpacked curriculum. Schools, especially those serving disadvantaged communities, simply do not have the funding or resources to train staff to deliver extensive education on how to manage money, despite knowing its importance.
“It’s so important for young people to feel confident in how to manage their personal finances. It should go hand in hand with soft skills like social skills and communication, or nutrition and wellbeing. We must provide young people with the tools to navigate their financial futures, understand the topic personally, know how to get support if needed and even explore future careers in finance. Pupils living in disadvantaged communities often see financial struggles every day at home, and without more education within this topic those inequalities will only be perpetuated.
“There are already a lot of widely available financial education resources, but without suitable funding and training in place, school staff will struggle to properly implement this kind of learning. Financial education is fundamental to the future and prosperity of our next generation, and it needs to be invested in.”