Should there be more financial education in school?

94% parents believe the responsibility to educate children on financial skills lies with schools
Should there be more financial education in school?
April 2019

A survey by pensions advice specialist, Portafina1, reveals UK parents’ thoughts on children who are currently in education, and what financial knowledge they would like to see added to the curriculum. These included basic money management (52%); what a pension is, and how it will benefit your future (41%); paying bills (39%); and saving methods (39%).

A huge 91% of parents stated they don’t think it is their responsibility to teach their children this financial knowledge, and nine in ten parents (94%) want their children to be taught more financial knowledge at school as part of the curriculum.

The majority of parents believe that their children would benefit from learning more financial skills at secondary school (72%), with 23% stating they should be taught in primary school, and 31% saying sixth form or college.

The survey results also show that almost seven in ten (68%) Brits believe that learning more about managing money at school would have improved their financial position later in life.

Topping the list of financial skills the nation wishes they’d learnt more about at school is pensions, with almost a third (32%) wishing they had been taught what a pension is and how it would benefit their future whilst they were still in education.

The top financial skills/ knowledge that UK adults wish they’d been taught at school are:

  1. What a pension is and how it will benefit your future (32%)
  2. Basic money management e.g. how to budget (28%),
    Saving methods (Cash ISAs, savings accounts, Lifetime ISA, Help to Buy ISA etc.) (28%)
  3. General investment knowledge (27%)
  4. How to understand interest rates (23%)
  5. What a mortgage is and the process of applying for one (21%)
  6. What tax and national insurance are and why we pay them (21%)

Portafina recently revealed2 that those fresh out of education are the least likely age group to be able to correctly identify the definition of what a pension is (88% could not identify it).

Further financial skills Brits wish they had been taught at school include general banking – including online banking, the difference between credit and debit accounts (19%), paying bills – and what happens when you miss a payment (19%), and how to understand credit ratings (18%).

Commenting on the current school curriculum, Sue, a secondary school math’s teacher from Kent said:

“The current GCSE mathematics curriculum contains no financial content. Students may need to work out what the best buy would be or the VAT on a sofa, but at no point are schools directed to teach anything specifically relating to finances.


“In the current economic climate teachers are very aware of the importance of financial education, but also of their lack of training. Educators often only have knowledge based on their life experiences and may not feel confident to instil financial expertise on students. There is also no benefit to schools in teaching their students basic financial knowledge; it will not be reflected in the school’s success statistics which parents and OFSTED are so keen to know and scrutinize.


“The new proposed OFSTED framework does look to be changing, turning the importance away from purely academic success and towards the student as a valid member of the adult world. This can only be of benefit to all and should, in my opinion, include financial education. As a Mum of three I know these skills will be much more valuable than trigonometry to our children, on an almost daily basis.


“At the school I work at we have implemented a finance course for our year 9 students, which incorporates budgeting, credit cards, tax, national insurance and pensions amongst many other essential money skills. Although this takes staff outside of their comfort zone of teaching mathematics, it successfully deals with the many misunderstandings the students have. The shock of realising what you earn is not what you keep is always a good lesson, alongside how much you really pay back on a loan!”

Commenting on the findings, Jamie Smith-Thompson, Managing Director of Portafina, said:

“Parents have made it very clear that they feel the buck lies with their child’s school when it comes to the responsibility of teaching financial education.


“The issue of financial education in schools needs addressing urgently. Yet making it a part of the curriculum looks like an empty gesture if teachers are not given the time and tools they need. The government has an obligation to equip the next generation with the right financial skills to navigate life. An outcome that looks very unlikely while the government’s focus is fixed on the continuing mess that is Brexit.”Jamie Smith-Thompson

How strong is your pension knowledge? Find out here.

1Statistics taken from a survey of 2,002 employed UK adults, which included 1,542 parents in April 2019
2Statistics are taken from a survey of 2,003 employed UK adults in February 2019

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Katie Burgess, Portafina PR and Content Executive

Katie Burgess

PR and Content Executive

01634 930 600

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