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Letter: Financial education is already in the classrooms

I read Samuel Dale’s interview with Pfeg chief executive Tracey Bleakley on how financial education finally made it into schools (MM 21 November) with interest.

As vice-principal of one of the UK’s leading financial education charities, ifs University College, I must raise several counter points to some of the assertions made within the article.

Contrary to Pfeg’s assertion that UK secondary schools will teach financial education for the first time from September 2014, in reality more than 150,000 teenagers have taken an ifs University College GCSE, AS or A level equivalent qualification in personal finance since they were made available to all secondary schools way back in 2006.

Alongside this ifs University College offers undergraduate degrees for those looking to work in financial services and many students who have taken our personal finance qualifications have chosen this route.

A further 30,000 teenagers will gain the skills, confidence and knowledge to manage their own finances by taking one of these rigorous, accredited and independently assessed qualifications in the current academic year alone – more than nine months before schools will “teach financial education for the first time”. ifs University College continues to argue that in reality the “big win” of getting financial education on the curriculum through Citizenship and Mathematics will in effect deliver no real meaningful change to the levels of financial literacy in the UK.

Notwithstanding the fact that most schools operate as academies and are not required to follow the national curriculum, financial education is about behavioural concepts; learning the arithmetic behind transactions in maths is meaningless if the context is not applied.

Similarly, questions surrounding citizenship remain. As a subject is no longer inspected by Ofsted, nor has any serious consideration been given to how, in an already overcrowded subject, financial education will be delivered. Yours sincerely,

Alison Pask

vice principal

ifs University College

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