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ifs School of Finance calls on Government to drop PF from maths curriculum

The ifs School of Finance has called on the Government to drop any reference to personal finance from the maths curriculum.

It has also hit out at the Government’s claims that the new functional maths GCSE, to be introduced in September 2010, will enable students to master the basics in personal finance.

The school is calling for the Government to instead add a standalone qualification in personal finance to the school curriculum.

The ifs School of Finance says there is an increasing body of evidence that suggests that combining maths and financial education is a fundamentally flawed approach to raising levels of financial capability.

It points to recent FSA research conducted by the London School of Economics which recommends some caution about delivering financial skills through the maths curriculum.

An Ofsted report published in March stated that teaching personal finance through maths lessons was harmful for both financial education and for mathematics.

The ifs School of Finance head of financial capability Rod McKee says financial capability is about behaviour, not numeracy.

He says: “Numeracy is simply an aspect. Financial capability is about how to manage personal finances. This involves understanding how to prioritise, knowing what products do and comparing them, making choices and being able to undertake key financial decisions that affect everybody’s daily lives.

“The new functional maths GCSE understandably concentrates on mathematical concepts such as arithmetic and basic geometry. What is being masqueraded as financial capability is confined to a couple of hours of recognising notes and coins and simple calculations using money – clearly insufficient to make any noticeable impact.”

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