How PSHE education can develop financial capability

Our Chief Executive Jonathan Baggaley writes on PSHE education's key role in supporting financial capability and enterprise skills:

Not many people disagree with the idea that all pupils should leave school with the ability to understand how to navigate major life choices, including those relating to money, but there is perhaps a lack of awareness about the extent to which personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education has the potential to develop financial capability, enterprise and employability skills.

Financial decisions are inextricably linked with other areas covered through the PSHE education curriculum, from mental wellbeing to an understanding of risk. The skills and attributes pupils need to manage decisions related to money are often very similar to those they need to navigate other life choices and these skills and attributes are at the core of PSHE education. PSHE education is therefore a natural home for financial education, complementing learning in other subjects such as Mathematics and Citizenship.

The PSHE Association programme of study for PSHE education addresses financial awareness directly through one of its three core themes – ‘living in the wider world’, which encourages pupils to understand where money comes from and how to save and manage it effectively. In addition to this it encourages an understanding of enterprise and development of employability, team-working and leadership skills. Important skills and attributes are also developed through other areas of the PSHE education curriculum, for example through the ‘relationships’ core theme pupils not only covers personal relationships but also the skills and attributes needed for relationships in the world of work, such as cooperation, negotiation and compromise. Pupils also have the opportunity to develop an understanding of behaviours such as peer influence which could have an impact on their financial decisions and attitude to risk.

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education also concluded in its report, that PSHE education can cover the important ‘personal’ or behavioural aspects of financial education that Mathematics and Citizenship are unable to cover in as much depth, recommending that Financial education should form a central component of Department for Education efforts to improve PSHE provision “to help strengthen young people’s ability to budget and save according  to their personal circumstances”.

The APPG report also showed that schools regard PSHE education as the most suitable fit for financial education. 62% of teachers polled by the APPG agreed financial education should be delivered within the subject – more than any other area of the school timetable, and 90% believed that at least some of the financial education topics currently taught through PSHE should be statutory on the curriculum. Worryingly, only 52% of secondary level Mathematics teachers polled said they taught financial education through their subject.

PSHE education remains a non-statutory part of the curriculum however and is therefore often given lower priority than other subjects in maintained schools. As far as we can see this is mirrored in academies, and the situation appears to be worsening: DfE data on how secondary schools allocate curriculum time suggests the amount of time spent teaching PSHE education has fallen by over 32% in just four years.  This is despite leading financial literacy bodies such as Young Enterprise and pfeg (the personal finance education group) recommending PSHE education provision in all schools, along with 85% of business leaders, 88% of teachers, 92% of parents, 92% of pupils and four Select Committees.

The Education Secretary’s landmark announcement on PSHE education on 1 March opened the door for statutory PSHE education following a consultation process. This consultation provides a huge opportunity to achieve what we’ve been campaigning for and we’ll be looking to partners and members to continue to make the case strongly for statutory PSHE education for all pupils in all schools, taught in regular lessons by trained teachers.

Otherwise we worry that too many pupils leave school unarmed with the skills, attributes and knowledge to make informed financial decisions that could affect them now and throughout their lives.

The PSHE Association is the national body for PSHE education, leading the effort to ensure every pupil receives high-quality provision. The Association provides advice, resources and support and other membership services to a national network of teachers and other professionals across England.


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