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FT poll shows 90% learnt ‘little or nothing’ about finance at school

The Financial Times has launched a new charity endorsed by the former prime minister Gordon Brown, focused on the promotion of financial literacy and inclusion around the world. The FT Financial Literacy and Inclusion Campaign (FT FLIC) unveiled its strategic plan to boost the financial literacy of young people, women and disadvantaged communities at an event hosted by Roula Khalaf, editor of the Financial Times.

 

The plan will develop educational programmes to tackle financial literacy, initially in the UK and then around the world. It will seek to warn people about potential financial traps as well as empowering them to realise their aspirations. It will also campaign for policy change and clearer product communication by financial companies. 

 

“Improving financial literacy for people that need it most, will empower and build financial resilience amongst communities that have faced growing inequalities exacerbated by the pandemic and austerity,” said Aimée Allam, executive director of FT FLIC. “We have now outlined our ambitious goals to improve financial literacy, and our success will be determined by our ability to achieve these goals in an effective and measurable way.”

A survey, commissioned for the Financial Times by Ipsos Mori, reveals shortcomings in financial understanding among four constituencies that have clear gaps relative to the national average: deprived areas, the young, women and ethnic minorities.

 

According to the research, 90% of the 3,194 people polled across England learnt “nothing at all” or “not very much” about finance at school. The research also found that barely half of 3,000 respondents were able to correctly compare the costs of borrowing via credit cards or bank overdrafts, regardless of their wealth, ethnicity or gender.

 

Not only will FT FLIC provide financial educational content for individuals and teachers, it also intends to lobby for education policy to change, in particular pushing for financial literacy to be integrated into school curriculums. FT FLIC will also focus on helping close the financial literacy gap for women and communities marginalised from accessing mainstream finance.

 

FT FLIC will partner with existing charities and other organisations in financial education, and become a hub for the aggregation of the best materials, as well as developing its own content.

 

Patrick Jenkins, the FT’s deputy editor who chairs FT FLIC, said: “According to the World Bank, two in three of the global population, including one in three in the UK, are financially illiterate. If that were true of language literacy it would rightly be regarded as a scandal. Happily getting on for nine in 10 people around the world are now able to read and write. But why is it not regarded as a scandal that financial literacy levels are so low?”

 

Speaking at the launch of FT FLIC Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, said: “In surgeries, I came face-to-face with constituents who could not manage their finances or pay their bills, who racked up debts and fell into the hands of money lenders. I saw not only the despair that this brings and the impact it has on physical and mental health but the need for far greater financial literacy. Financial worries have been exacerbated by the pandemic and will certainly worsen when six million families in the UK find their universal credit is cut by £20 a week. I welcome this initiative to create an umbrella foundation that will not only work with current providers at the grass roots level, but it will also seek changes to policy.”

 

The launch of FT FLIC follows 15 years of successful FT seasonal appeals that raised more than £19.5m on behalf of charities and supported many worthy causes.

 

EVERFI & TEACHER TAPP RESEARCH FINDS 97% OF TEACHERS STRESS THE IMPORTANCE OF FINANCIAL EDUCATION

As part of their newly launched Understanding Money Month this June, EVERFI a leading education company who are committed to closing the education gaps that lead to long-term inequality, in partnership with popular app Teacher Tapp, has discovered that an resounding 97% of teachers feel that it’s important to teach students about finance.

To succeed in the modern world requires key skills like managing finances and teachers recognise the importance of the subject (97%). The research also highlights that 83% of teachers feel that it is their role to upskill their class as they transition into adulthood, in order to help bridge a gap that sees one in five adults having less than £100 in savings or investments – a historically low level in the UK. succeeding 

However, of those that understand the need to educate students on financial matters, only 54% say they have enough time to plan and deliver these lessons, meaning students could be missing out on developing key skills and understanding in their formative years. The EVERFI and Teacher Tapp research also reveals that 37% of teachers say that financial education isn’t a current focus at their school. 

EVERFI created Understanding Money Month to directly support teachers in delivering financial literacy to their classes to ensure students learn critical skills that will help them in years to come. EVERFI have created free downloadable planners to  help teachers to plan and use their free, interactive and time efficient courses to help students make informed and smart decisions in the future. 

The interactive programmes, classroom activities, weekly planners and challenges make it easy for  teachers to deliver financial literacy education to their students that have been created in partnership with Young Enterprise. Available on EVERFI’s own platform the ready to go resources are split into three age-specific courses; Vault, Thrive and Aspire. 

Each course helps primary and secondary school students make smarter decisions;

  • Vault builds a financial foundation for nine to 9-11 year olds, teaching them how to borrow money responsibly, the basics of budgeting and the difference between stocks and shares.
  • Thrive helps students 11-16 years old plan for their financial goals by teaching key financial skills through relatable connections to everyday life and socio-emotional learning skills e.g. self-awareness, prioritising, self-control. 
  • Aspire helps students aged 14-18 year olds prepare for their financial future by teaching about the economy holistically through different perspectives: as a consumer, an employee and an entrepreneur or employer, and understand its relevance to their lives.

Speaking about the ease of using Vault, Melanee Rose, Head of Maths at King’s House School Richmond said: “Managing money and learning how to save are vital skills to learn at a young age. The built-in lessons in Vault made the course very accessible to me as a teacher and I’m excited to teach pupils about the value of money.” 

All EVERFI courses help create a more equal society by providing pupils with critical skills that prepare them for a brighter, happier, safer and more resilient future. EVERFI are offering Waterstones Vouchers for schools that sign up to Understanding Money Month by the end of June. 

Laura McInerney, Co-Founder & CEO, Education Intelligence, who worked with EVERFI on the findings said “As a former PSHE teacher I was unsurprised to see so many people saying that financial education was important. Most adults wish they’d learned more about it at school and knowing more about finance is a way of boosting pupil’s real-world confidence”

Martin Finn, EVP Global Operations at EVERFI spoke about the idea behind the launch of the campaign: “Understanding Money Month came to life to help make it easy for teachers to embrace financial education. We know that they see it as important, but often find it hard to access and deliver. At EVERFI, we are here to support teachers with high quality courses and planning tools. With our Vault, Thrive & Aspire courses, we use real-life scenarios and interactive games to show learners how to make smart financial decisions, ensuring all students have the critical financial skills they need for the future.”

Head to the EVERFI Teachers website today to explore Understanding Money Month further and the EVERFI courses available.

How to improve energy efficiency in schools

Energy management can be a primary focus for senior management within schools as they look to make cost savings. Reducing energy consumption is one way that schools can minimise their spend, whilst also reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the learning environment.

For school managers looking to improve their school’s energy efficiency, the first port of call is to identify where changes, both in culture and processes, need to be made. Here, we speak to Ceri Williams, a Schools Energy and Finance Officer at Torfaen County Borough Council with over 20 years of experience, about the best ways for schools to tackle their energy usage and carbon footprint.

Where to start when it comes to a school’s energy usage?

Energy spend will of course vary between schools but an easy way to find out your school’s energy spend per pupil is to divide your annual energy bill up by the number of pupils. The higher your cost per pupil, the more adjustments you will need to implement. 

What is the first step to reducing energy consumption?

The best place to start is to identify sources of energy waste, whether that’s from old inefficient technologies, or down to behaviours such as leaving windows open when radiators are in use, or keeping lights on when they are not needed.

Replacing inefficient technologies with more efficient upgrades will not only be more effective performance-wise but will also help to bring down costs significantly. Conducting a site walk in collaboration with the site manager, who will be familiar with any day-to-day issues, can help to establish areas for improvement.

Many issues can be easily addressed by simply speaking with staff and pupils to encourage behavioural changes, or by implementing measures such as lighting sensors, which will ensure lights are only on when needed. Energy consumption can also be reduced by installing new smart energy control systems which allow for more precise control, giving schools the ability to quickly and easily adjust energy usage in real-time to meet their needs.

Should schools get students involved?

Getting students involved in any energy efficiency initiatives you are working on is important as it will not only help to educate them on important environmental issues but inspire them to play an active role in reducing their energy use.

Offering engaging and interactive workshops and presentations on climate change, to enable pupils to learn about energy savings, is a great start. Setting up eco-clubs to boost energy awareness and encourage discussions and learning around the subject is another good option. In particular, I’ve found that involving pupils in competitions, such as mini switch off walk arounds, and rewarding them for their energy saving efforts, is particularly effective.

Allow pupils to present evidence of the savings they have achieved for their school, either as individuals or in groups, during assemblies or lessons. This will keep them engaged in energy saving efforts and encourage them to feel pride in the role they have played. For example, as part of one of my projects with Torfaen County Borough Council, we held a ‘switch off fortnight’ campaign where students were urged to go around switching appliances off to save energy. Changes in usage were monitored through meter readings and pupils received certificates and bronze, silver, gold or platinum eco awards from staff. They loved demonstrating how they made a difference.

Which technologies should schools invest in?

Aside from replacing inefficient resources, investing in additional new energy efficient technologies should be at the forefront of any energy efficiency plans, helping to maximise financial and energy savings.

As lighting accounts for a significant proportion of electricity expended within schools, upgrading old, inefficient lights to more modern light emitting diode (LED) lighting alternatives is one of the most effective ways to reduce consumption. Installing lighting controls and adding motion sensors further reduces energy usage, while the longer lifespan of LEDs also decreases maintenance requirements and costs. As well as these benefits, new LED lighting can also improve the aesthetics of old buildings and enhance learning and teaching environments.

Elsewhere, simple steps such as adding insulation or heating controls, can substantially reduce energy usage and bills, with the potential for thousands of pounds a year to be saved through such investments.

Lastly, installing Building Energy Management Systems (BEMS), which act as a central point of control for multiple building services, can be really effective. Used to control heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) all in one, BEMS provide a way to monitor and rapidly adjust equipment, improving the reliability and performance of buildings and delivering substantial savings.

What about renewable options?

Renewables such as solar PV and heat pumps are great methods to help future proof buildings. As the cost of Solar PV has fallen, it’s a really good measure for schools looking to lower their carbon footprint and reduce their dependency on grid electricity. Solar PV installations are also a popular way to raise awareness of the sustainability agenda among students and the local community.

How many technologies should schools invest in?

This of course depends on what you are practically able to do but choosing to address energy efficiency holistically – that is, implementing multiple projects at the same time rather than investing in just one type of technology – is the most effective way of maximising energy, carbon and cost savings.

 

Many schools begin addressing their energy usage by installing LED lighting, however, a school taking a holistic approach would consider whether they could also install lighting sensors, energy management systems, new insulation, low-carbon heating and solar PV within the same project. As well as significantly boosting annual savings, such an approach also helps save money on design, installation and labour costs, while also minimising disruption on site.

 

How can schools fund energy efficiency projects?

The case for investing in energy efficiency in schools is obvious, but concerns over how to finance such investments may hold many back from doing so. However, funding options are still available to help schools invest in such technologies.

These include interest-free loans from Salix Finance – a government funded organisation which provides 100% interest free finance to the public sector to invest in energy efficient technologies. The loans are paid back over several years from the savings made on energy bills, meaning no capital outlay is needed. Funding is available for both large-scale and small-scale projects, covering over 100 technologies, including LED lighting, building energy management systems and renewables.

Over the last 10 years, funding from Salix has allowed me to implement  a considerable amount of energy efficiency upgrade projects across the public sector, including over 45 projects spanning a range of technologies in schools, so I would encourage any schools to investigate the funding options available.

To find out more about the funding available for schools from Salix, visit www.salixfinance.co.uk or contact the Salix team on info@salixfinance.co.uk