April 13, 2024

Martin Lewis issues urgent call for finance lessons in schools amid ‘farce’

Martin Lewis says that the UK Government is in a financial education ‘farce’, urging it to create ‘apps and games’ for children to learn his vital money saving skills in schools.

The MoneySavingExpert founder hit out at ministers for failing to fund resources for personal finance lessons – revealing that he was forced to cough up his own money to fund the first ever textbook on the topic.

He urged ministers to be inventive in teaching children about finances, by talking about the likes of mobile phones and travel insurance. Addressing MPs on the Commons Education Committee, Mr Lewis said that there are ‘zero’ resources invested in financial literacy – explaining how it is crucial that kids understand money in the midst of a cost of living crisis.

Martin cited that it is too often ‘assumed’ that children know about paychecks, student finance, tax codes and high interest rates – funding 350,000 copies and free online downloads of his Your Money Matters textbook for schools. The book teaches people how to save money, budget, and borrow – as well as touching on student finance, pensions, investments, benefits, gambling, debt, insurance, security and fraud.

However, Mr Lewis has demanded that ministers consider ways of digitalising financial education, a suggestion that he warns was previously slapped down – reports The Mirror. Martin said: “We want ongoing teacher training, we want to proper textbooks for schools, we want apps and games and things people can play that give financial education.

“We need a rounded funded way to do this and we’re talking low numbers millions of pounds. We’re not talking hundreds of millions.”

He added: “But maybe the state could pay this time and not me.”

The MSE founder also pleaded with the DfE for teacher training, adding: “The one counter argument is that it’s a parent’s responsibility. Well, that’s great for my daughter because it’ll go pretty well to be fair. But what you do is perpetuate a cycle of the ‘financial knows’ and the ‘financial know-nots’?

“Ultimately to do this properly we need a universalised financial education that is supporting every school that is on the curriculum, that is taught by the professionals in teaching – who are the teachers – and who are properly resourced and are properly educated themselves and get ongoing teacher training to keep up with it? And I do not believe the resources are being put in place to do that.”

Martin was also critical of the Government for relying on him to fund a textbook on the subject for children, adding: “I’m not the Government. I’m a private individual. I actually have a substantial political objection that a private individual should be asked to pay for a textbook to go into schools…

“I don’t understand why I was asked to pay for it. On a practical basis I was told quite succinctly it was not going to happen unless I funded it so I funded it over my own objections.”

He also said that the Department told him that it was not allowed to support the book if he went through a publisher, so he was also forced to fund the ‘publishing and the printing too’. He explained: “If we didn’t self-publish we couldn’t get the Department for Education to do the letter it did to schools supporting the textbook.

“Forgive me but what a bloody farce. Is that not just ridiculous?”

The MSE founder also said that he ensured the contract for the textbook, which was handed to Young Money, made clear that he did not want ‘editorial control’ of the content and criticised the Government for leaving the decision to him in the first place. He said: “I could’ve put my stance into schools.

“I could’ve used it as a piece of propaganda. I could’ve done all of those things. That doesn’t seem right to me.”

Asked about financial education in schools, Schools Minister Damian Hinds said: “There’s more than there used to be and we’d like there to be more. There’s this ambition for two million more children and young people to be getting a meaningful financial education by the end of the decade. I support that.

“I do think it’s really important that children leave school with a firm grasp of the knowledge and the life skills that will help them to thrive and protect themselves in adult life, and financial literacy, financial capability – it goes by many names – is clearly a really important part of that.”

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