The ifs School of Finance has called on the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) to put financial education lessons in schools on the same level as established subjects like geography and history.
Last month the QCA published guidelines for a recommended financial education syllabus, called ‘economic wellbeing’, for 14 to 19 year-olds.
However, the subject would not be compulsory and some commentators suggest this could mean it will not have a big enough impact.
Now, the ifs wants the QCA to force schools to offer the subject, although students would not have to study it. The School says it would ensure future generations have the skills to manage their money effectively and avoid unaffordable debt problems.
The comments respond to figures released today by the Insolvency Service, which show almost 30,000 people filed for bankruptcy in the second quarter of 2007. The figure is a rise of 4.2% on the same quarter last year.
The service counts more than 16,000 bankruptcies in the second quarter of this year. The figure shows a 7.7% increase on the same quarter of the previous year. There were more than 10,000 individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs), a 0.7% decrease on the same quarter of the previous year.
Rod McKee, head of Financial Capability at the ifs School of Finance, says: “As the 200 plus schools already offering a GCSE equivalent in personal finance have shown, students who take a standalone course in personal finance make positive changes to their financial behaviour and are able to manage their own finances effectively.
"We’d like to see every school offering their students the opportunity to gain these skills but achieving this requires Government action.”
The ifs is the only provider of GCSE, AS and A level equivalent qualifications in personal finance.
Last month the Personal Finance Society urged the Government to make school lessons in financial education mandatory.
The IFA lobbying describes education in schools is a "key element to the financial welfare of the nation".
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