The government intends to introduce financial planning education into the school curriculum in two years time, Whitehall sources have told IFAonline.
Although details have yet to be finalised, initial plans suggest financial planning lessons will be introduced at year 11, to begin in September 2007, as part of a wider strategy to prepare 15 and 16 year olds for adult life.
The curriculum would include lessons on pensions and savings as part of the government's attempt to change the current 'spend now, save later' financial culture in Britain.
Further negotiations are taking place between the Department for Work and Pensions and the Department of Education and Skills, however sources say while the DWP is keen to see some form of financial planning education in schools, the DfES has doubts as to the merits of such lessons and how best to deliver them.
It is thought such lessons could be delivered as part of the mathematics, personal and social education (PSE) or the relatively new citizenship curriculum, or possibly through some cross-curriculum project incorporating several or all of these subjects.
The DWP believes it has “the door open” in its negotiations with the DfES but there still appears to be some way to go before any final announcement can be made.
Peter Askins, senior policy adviser at the DWP, would not confirm this was the case, saying: ”The government’s aspiration is to better develop a financial knowledge base among the British people in terms of financial planning and this could include it becoming part of the school curriculum. The DWP is looking at a wide range of measures to encourage people to plan across the board, not just in terms of pension saving but saving in general.”
Wendy van den Hende, chief executive of the Personal Finance Education Group, says: ”It is certainly true that the DWP and Treasury are rather more bullish [about providing financial planning education] than the DfES but DfES also knows the pressures schools are under and a lot of them are already teaching personal finance," says van den Hende.
"The problem is a lot of it is patchy so pupils could go through the whole of their educational life without having had a financial education,” she adds.
Van den Hende also warned there were significant problems with trying to introduce financial planning into the school curriculum.
“There is a problem with it being part of the mathematics curriculum as a lot of maths teachers will teach the maths element of financial planning but there are other issues such as financial responsibility and there are emotional issues tied to finances that they would be unlikely to cover.”
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