Horrifying ignorance among teachers on money matters

More than half of all teachers would struggle teaching basic personal finance to children

Updated: 
Young woman looking at math problem on blackboard

If you wanted someone to explain money clearly and knowledgeably to you, then a teacher might be the worst person to ask. A new study has revealed that an astonishing 53% of teachers admit they couldn't teach simple personal finance issues.

The study, from Shares4Schools, found that one in five teachers struggle with personal finance questions themselves - so it's baffling as to how the government expects them to be able to teach the subject to children.

Shocking gaps in their knowledge included investments - as only 17% said they new what the stock market was and only 16% understood dividends. Pensions were another worrying area - with just 28% able to explain what a pension is.

The percentage of teachers who would be comfortable explaining:
What investing is: 45%
What APR means: 36%
How taxes work: 41%
How a credit card works: 61%
How a debit card works: 64%
What the stock market is: 17%
How a pension works: 28%
How a mortgage works: 46%
What a dividend is: 16%
What an ISA is: 40%
How a will works: 35%

Gavin Oldham, Chairman of The Share Centre, said: "While the inclusion of financial education on the curriculum is a huge step forward, it's clear many teachers still lack the confidence to explain basic personal finance issues. This means pupils may head into the world of work, bills and responsibility unprepared. Clearly there is a knowledge gap that needs to be addressed."

What can you do?

The good news is that teachers and schools who are prepared to look more closely into the help available, can get the support they need to deliver useful and engaging lessons.

Shares4Schools, for example, works with dozens of schools and hundreds of children nationwide, running a competition that helps bring money and investing to life. Oldham suggests: "If you engage with personal finances in an interactive way, it becomes far easier to understand, less intimidating and even fun!"

MyBnk, meanwhile, provides financial education workshops for young people aged between 11 and 25, including sessions in schools. Sometimes these are one-offs, and sometimes a series of workshops over a number of weeks. They also have a range of lesson plans and resources for teachers to use themselves

The Personal Finance Education Group, meanwhile, also offers workshops and lesson plans - as well as an advisory service to answer questions teachers may have.

Parents can therefore approach their school, to find out how the subject is being taught, and what help the teachers are receiving (if any). If they have any concerns, they can contact the governors, to ensure that financial education isn't being left to teachers who don't know or care about the subject.

It may seem like a lot of effort to go to - and you would be forgiven for thinking that the schools themselves should be doing this kind of work. However, as this study shows, clearly there is room for improvement, and pushy parent or two could make all the difference to the financial capabilities of the next generation.

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