Children must be taught about finance in the classroom
As the year comes to an end and the recession rumbles on, many young people are falling victim to the economic slowdown. Some are being hit by the lack of jobs, while others have succumbed to the easy credit which is still often available. A survey conducted by the charity MyBnk for the Aldridge Foundation has explored the financial knowledge and needs of young people living in Brighton and Hove who are not in education, employment or training (NEET). Rod Aldridge, the sponsor of the Falmer Academy in Brighton, talks to Emily-Ann Elliott about the importance of learning about finance in the classroom.
According to MyBnk, disadvantaged young people in Brighton and Hove are in desperate need of financial education to help them escape a “debt sentence” of poverty.
The educational charity, which aims to help young people to avoid debt and financial exclusion, carried out research in the city to find out how young people who are NEET feel about money and finance.
It carried out interviews with young people at Stopover One in Brighton, which provides supported housing for young women aged 16-21 and the 67 Centre in Hodshrove Lane, Moulsecoomb, Brighton.
The report’s findings showed that many of those who were interviewed found it difficult to save and were confused about different bank accounts and loans.
One boy who was interviewed during the process said: “I didn’t know when I was in school, what the cost of life would be after school.”
In September Falmer Academy will open its doors for the first time, replacing the existing Falmer High School in Lewes Road, Brighton.
It will specialise in entrepreneurship.
Sponsor Rod Aldridge believes it is important to learn about money and business in the school environment.
He said: “I am not completely surprised by some of the findings of the report. Money management is a discipline that doesn’t always come naturally to people, especially when we are in the circumstances we are at the moment with the banks and growing debt.
“As a business man I have no fear of debt in that sense but you have got to know how you can afford to pay it.
“Schools are about giving young people the skills for life, not only academic results.
“I think it’s particularly fundamental that young people understand numbers and the implications of saving up for things with banks, accepting loans and running homes. Ultimately it has got to start somewhere and the classroom is a good place for that.
“If you don’t have that understanding it becomes quite difficult because to get into debt is a major issue.”
Last month the Government announced that Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education, which includes personal finance, will become a statutory part of the National Curriculum from 2011.
Mr Aldridge said he did not learn about finance at the school he attended in Portslade and instead was educated about money by his parents.
He said: “I got a lot from my parents, particularly my mother, who managed the household affairs by putting money away for paying certain bills.
“I learnt how to save for things and put money away from a very young age, going back to my pocket money. That gave me an understanding of running a home.
“I always found numbers interesting and I trained as an accountant so it became a natural thing in my life.
“So when it came for me to have a mortgage I understood the implications of it and knew I could pay for it.
“The Falmer specialism will give young people the ability to understand money when running a business. At our other academy, entrepreneurship has really caught young people’s imaginations.”
The MyBnk report encourages agencies in the city to work together to help young people, particularly those who are NEET, to understand and manage their money.
A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesman said: “There is a wide range of personal finance-related schemes offered in the city to help primary and secondary age children. Schools choose which courses they run and secondary schools provide this within Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education (PSHEe) sessions.
“The most recent officially validated figure for NEETs in east Brighton is 11.62%, which is not far off the national average. City-wide our NEET performance is 7.8%, which is well below the national average.
“Provision for over 18s in this area is something we’re looking to improve. We’re working on this with a wide range of partners including Connexions, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Wired Sussex and City College Brighton and Hove, and are planning to put in a joint bid for government funding in the new year. This will provide a wide range of information resources to young people, including sections of personal finance and money management.”