The Government’s announcement last week, that it intends to introduce Money and Debt Management lessons into the National Curriculum for children as young as five, has been met with mixed reactions. While many believe this to be a potential solution to the personal debt crisis affecting British adults, others believe that we are enforcing overly ‘adult’ and complex themes onto children who simply have not even had chance to just be children.
Were you concerned about debt and money when you were five? Should you have been?
There are arguments on both sides for this matter. On the one hand we know that education is the key to dealing with a number of issues. When STDs and AIDs/HIV in particular rose to prominence in decades past, the nation began a comprehensive secondary education push on the topic (as well as a large marketing campaign). But can we really make money lessons work for children as young as five? Is it fair to expect them to grasp the concept or to even want to? And that will all come down to how these lessons are taught. Of course, if a teacher pulls out a finance guide in black and white and starts chirping numbers, there will be no progress. But if the lessons are made fun, easy to follow and yet challenging too in the right balance, this could have a real positive effect.
We previously have not offered money management lessons for children. Debt management lessons in schools have never been a part of the national curriculum. Instead, at 18, we launch teenagers into a society that lives largely on credit and into the Lions’ Den of lending institutions all too happy, ready and willing to offer copious amounts of credit to these people, whose shiny new credit records have yet to be tarnished. In essence, we give complete financial independence to people who have had no formal education around the topic. And the consequences of getting finance wrong at 18 can haunt consumers for years to come.
Why do we educate children at all? Simply to prepare them for the real world, to get them ready for a job and responsibility. Yet we have previously completely neglected to cover the topic of personal finance and debt management, one of the biggest responsibilities a child leaving school will face.
With that in mind, surely this introduction to the national curriculum of money management lessons for children can only be a good thing. Of course, we will not know how successful it has been for a number of years yet.