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How to bring financial education to life

Michael Mercieca shares some advice from Young Enterprise's Centre of Excellence schools

Posted by Stephanie Broad | February 16, 2016 | Law, finance, HR

Encouraging young people to get enthusiastic about taxes, budgets and costing structures is no easy feat and teachers can face a challenge in bringing these topics to life for young people. However, it’s essential that we upskill students in these areas in order to better prepare them for the working world. That’s why we believe it is important to explore, learn and share what works best in financial education with schools from all across the country at our annual Centres of Excellence conference. The event forms an integral part of Young Enterprise’s (incorporating pfeg) Centres of Excellence Programme. 

With good practice workshops, a resource share zone, networking lunch and Centres of Excellence Awards Ceremony, the event provides an opportunity for schools and sixth form colleges to showcase their work, share ideas, meet the funders and celebrate success. We also recognise schools for their achievements in financial education; schools are awarded ‘Centre of Excellence’ status if they meet Young Enterprise’s criteria by displaying leadership and management, teaching and learning, pupil involvement and assessment, staff development, sharing of financial education, as well as showcasing sustainability. 

To find out how the best schools are bringing financial education to life, we caught up with some of our Centre of Excellence schools at this year’s event. Here are their top tips for success…

Tom Casson, Lead on Lifelong Learning at Swiss Cottage Special Needs School in Camden

“At special needs school settings, students can be very naive and we need to be able to maximise their potential, so that when they leave educational settings and go into the real world, they’ll be as independent as possible.  It’s important to teach them about the future and their rights so that they access and feel part of their communities. My top tip for teaching financial education would be to start early!  I think there’s a culture within education of waiting until students are of a certain age to start, but I would say to start teaching financial capability as soon as possible.”  

Financial education is an important life skill

Amanda Szewczyk-Radley, Headteacher at Edith Neville Primary School

“Financial education is so important because children need to understand what value is. We’ve always had this principle that it’s not just about money, but the importance and value of how you use it, too. My one tip is to make it fun and real. Make it absolutely relevant. Keep it with real costs and make it apply to their actual lives, so if you’re going to talk about the cost of something, make sure it’s the real cost of something. If you’re going to talk about how much someone might earn in an hour, make sure they understand that.” 

John Peet, Cheadle Hulme High School

“Financial education is important to give students the context. They do lots of practical examples in subjects like maths about numbers and real life situations, but it’s not always linked to finance. Financial education allows you to tie that in and deal with issues as well that might be local to your particular area as well. My tip is to use the experience pfeg brings through its consultants. They’ve got loads of ideas, so there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. You can ask them what’s worked for them and they also bring resources so you can try methods out.”

Pete Bevington, year six teacher at Whitemoor Academy

“We value financial education because we see it as an important life skill which the children will use not only now but throughout their lives. My top tip is to make it as engaging as possible. Use drama and technology that gives the children the greatest chance of remembering that lesson and taking on board the important information that’s shared.”

Michael Mercieca is chief executive at Young Enterprise    

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