Concerns around a lack of financial education for youngsters across England is nothing new, however it’s great to see some innovative responses that could potentially make a huge difference.
Unfortunately, money management skills aren’t currently taught to schoolchildren as standard – they’re not part of the core curriculum, which means that while some schools may choose to include it within PHSE classes, many don’t.
Never ones to shy away from a challenge, the Scout Association have decided to see what they can do to help improve financial literacy for kids in the UK. Aimed at children aged 6-10, the money skills merit badge will include a range of activities that tie into more traditional scouting activities. For instance, scouts might be tasked with creating a budget ahead of an upcoming camping trip.
There will also be fun challenges such as creating an imaginary currency, designed to get kids thinking about how money works and what it is really worth. By developing practical financial skills, it’s hoped that the scouts will build their confidence with money as well as their understanding of it.
The Scout Association have decided to the launch the badge now after concerns around the lasting impact that COVID-19 could have on our national economy. Programme design manager Amy Butterworth explained:
“Young people are going to be hit in a way that we can’t yet predict. So, we want to make sure that they can practise [using money] in a safe environment and build on decision-making skills they already have, to get them confident in financial situations for the future.”
“One of the activities is to learn about the difference between needs and wants. For example, what do you want to bring on your hike? They get to make choices between objects like a bottle of water or a laptop and we give them a chance to practise making those decisions and understanding the impact of them.”
For the hundreds of thousands of scouts across the UK, this will be a fantastic opportunity to learn a life skill that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. However, the fact that the scouts have felt the need to introduce this change really emphasises how important it is for us to start taking financial education more seriously.
Last year, personal finance guru Martin Lewis was in the news for funding the first ever financial education textbook, going out to schools across the UK. It’s available for free from the Young Enterprise website, and is a great resource for parents who want to ensure that their kids are getting a more rounded introduction to the world of personal finance. Aimed at teenagers aged around 14-16, it’s also a good tool for those who are too old to take part in the new scouting programme.
Launching the book, Martin Lewis reinforced the importance of building money management skills early, saying: “young people are professionals at learning. If you want to break the cycle of debt, they’re the best place to start.”