Money, Money, Money: Why Financial Education Must Be Front of Mind

Sharon Davies, CEO, Young Enterprise


If we are to address financial wellbeing in the UK, then financial education must be prioritised. The ongoing impact of high inflation, a cashless society and the biting cost of living crisis has made the UK’s young people especially vulnerable to financial challenges.

With more and more financial transactions taking place online, and increasingly sophisticated digital fraud, young people need to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to develop responsible money habits and make more informed financial choices.

In the last few months, a barrage of data has revealed just how complex the situation truly is. According to the Social Market Foundation, just 1 percent of UK primary school teachers believe their students possess adequate financial literacy[1]. Young Enterprise’s own data reveals that a third of primary school children, and over half of secondary school students in the UK do not receive adequate financial education – despite 67% of teachers believing their schools are covering it[2]. What’s clear is that many do not know where, or with who, the responsibility lies for educating our young people on this topic.

Where does responsibility lie?

When it comes to financial capability, the two most influential parties in a young person’s life are their parents and their teacher, meaning that schools have an important role in levelling the playing field when it comes to equal opportunity to quality financial education for all young people.

However, according to the Money and Pensions Service, just 33% of all children recall receiving meaningful financial education at school or college3 A recent survey from the APPG on Financial Education for Young People identified several barriers educators face when trying to deliver and improve financial education in their schools, including confidence, lack of training, insufficient funding, time pressures and competing priorities within the school4.

Research shows that those who receive financial education as young people have a higher earning potential, less chance of debt and more savings, including larger pensions savings. In the wider sense, research has found that prioritising financial education would add an extra £6.98bn into the UK economy each year5


We Must Act Now


At Young Enterprise, we see first-hand the power that financial education has to prepare young people for the real world, helping them to develop responsible money habits, make informed spending choices and handle financial risks. 

Research shows that financial habits begin to be formed by age seven, so primary school is the time to start. Young children may not encounter physical money anymore, so games such as ‘playing shop’ at school can be an excellent way of helping them understand the value of money, and the concept of a transaction. This helps counter confusion that may be caused from cashless transaction, such as watching their parents or carers receive cashback, giving the impression that the adult is receiving both goods and money from a supermarket.

However, what is clear is that teachers need more support. They need to be equipped, empowered and trained, to help them integrate financial education in a way that suits their setting and the needs of their pupils. Teachers know their students best and are experts in adapting content to engage them and meet their individual needs. Today, there is an inconsistent provision across the country, often relying on the goodwill and passion of individual teachers amid high workloads and competing school priorities. 

More support, from government, could take the form of improving CPD training for senior leaders and teachers, access to high quality resources and the support and recognition by the Department of Education of schools and colleges championing financial education. Ideally, schools should be in a position to provide young people with opportunities to apply their learning to real-world situations through financial contexts.

The recent report from the Education Select Committee clearly displayed the need for financial education in the primary curriculum, in fact recommending that the government goes further in its efforts to support our schools in its delivery across all age groups. One of the most promising recommendations of the report is the appointment of a financial education lead, who would be present in schools to coordinate the delivery of a more coherent programme.

Looking forwards

The critical role of schools in providing financial education cannot be undervalued, yet it is essential that all educators are supported to provide high-quality provision.

The case for young people to leave education able to control their money and plan for the future has never been stronger. With young people encountering money earlier and earlier, and the strong links between financial wellbeing, resilience and mental health, building the foundations of strong financial wellbeing from an early age through financial education can help equip young people with the experiences to get them ready for work and ready for life.


1 Mind (2022) The link between money and mental health


1 Only 1% of UK primary schoolteachers think pupils have ‘adequate’ financial literacy (

2 Young Enterprise and YouGov, February 2024

3 UK Children and Young People’s Financial Wellbeing Survey: Financial Foundations | Money and Pensions Service (

4 Building-Beyond-Barriers-–-A-roadmap-for-enhancing-financial-education-in-schools.pdf (

5 Financial education could double your child’s earning power | GoHenry