Schools should equip children with intellectual learning and skills for life outside the school gates. One of the most important and practical skills throughout life - and one of the keys to a prosperous adulthood - is the ability to manage money competently. This is why the British Bankers' Association and its members support including financial education in the national curriculum, and that is why we welcome the government's announcement today that the new curriculum will see financial education embedded in both mathematics and in citizenship education, making education in financial capability statutory for the first time.
In a recent letter to the education secretary, Michael Gove, we said financial education helps people balance their finances, avoid costly debt, save for their future and get good returns on their investments. It empowers customers, giving them the confidence they are getting the best possible deal from financial services companies. As debt advice charities see every day, the lack of financial capability can devastate people's lives. We have seen in recent years how personal indebtedness can cause massive problems both for individuals and the economy. Unlike many of the skills taught in school, financial education benefits everyone throughout their whole lives.
For all these reasons, the BBA has backed the Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg), in its campaign to ensure that every child and young person has the skills, knowledge and confidence to manage their money well, now and in the future. While a huge amount of work is currently being done in this area, we believe that making personal financial education a statutory requirement provides real benefits for children, society and the future of our economy.
At the moment, there are guidelines in place for four- to 16-year-olds to learn about financial education in Personal, Social, Health and Economic education (PSHE) lessons. For primary schools, the guidelines recommend that pupils are taught to look after their money and realise that future wants and needs may be met through savings. But this is not currently a statutory requirement. Today's announcement means financial capability will become a statutory requirement in future.
UK banks are already very active in financial education, and a number of our members support the work already carried out in schools by pfeg, with funding and resources. We also contribute through pfeg's Quality Mark accreditation scheme, which ensures that young people in receipt of financial education programmes or education resources produced by financial firms are not being exposed to the marketing of financial products. This is not about marketing: the banks' interest in financial education is in helping schools to help tomorrow's consumers understand the options before them, and to help them to understand how to manage a bank account, how (and whether) to use credit and crucially how to plan for their financial futures. It is clear that banks will not be the only beneficiaries.
At a time when the need for financial education has never been clearer, the BBA and its members stand ready to contribute however they can. It is welcome news that the government has taken this essential step.
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