Investing in the future

Think tank: Social Market Foundation

Author(s): John Asthana Gibson; Dani Payne

April 16, 2024

This report from UK think tank the Social Market Foundation looks at the case for universal financial education in the UK.

Politicians across the party spectrum are keen for education to provide young people with key life skills, yet financial literacy among young people in the UK remains inadequate.

This Social Market Foundation report looks at how financial education can be delivered more effectively in the UK. Britain has among the lowest rates of financial literacy of similarly advanced economies, and current rates of financial literacy among young people are low – only 1% of primary school teachers believing that their pupils possess adequate financial skills.

Financial education is already a part of the English secondary school curriculum, but for financial education to make a difference it is important to start young, as socioeconomic inequalities in financial understanding can be seen at age 11. Embedding financial education into the primary school curriculum is therefore necessary, but other barriers like lack of time, resources, low prioritisation and lack of expertise need to be overcome.

To do this, the report recommends that financial education should be integrated into the English primary school curriculum using a ‘whole school approach’. The Department for Education and Ofsted should set financial literacy as a priority area for schools, and a central hub of accredited teacher training programmes and teaching resources should be established. Training on delivering financial education effectively should also be embedded into Initial Teacher Training programmes.

Meanwhile, the Money and Pensions Service should work with the Department for Education to provide long-term funding for financial education through the Dormant Assets Scheme, and the government should support the Money and Pensions Service to develop a financial literacy data strategy.