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9 February, 2004

Personal finance is more than just 'personal'

People are calling for a more rigorous approach to educating about money management, but what about the wider impacts of personal finance?

Personal finance education has become national news in the past few days. On Saturday the Guardian published an interview with primary school children that provided an often-amusing insight into their understanding of finance. This morning the Royal Bank of Scotland group announced that while British teenagers are richer now than ever before, they display a worrying lack of knowledge concerning personal finance.

Laudable attempts are being made to address financial literacy levels among young people. The Personal Finance Education Group has developed a QCA approved Certificate in Financial Studies and the Citizenship Foundation has produced user-friendly guides to personal finance.

Calls for more resources to help young people understand how to manage their money need to be listened to and acted upon.

However, it is a wasted opportunity if we stop there.

If we are really all to take a responsible and knowledgeable approach to finance, then surely we need also to understand the wider social implications of our use of money.

Economic literacy has been on the Citizenship curriculum since 2002. Although research published today by the RBS highlights timetable pressures as an obstacle to most teachers and inadequate resources as a problem for many, the opportunity is there in the curriculum to address these wider issues.

The Citizenship Foundation is in the process of developing an interactive online resource to encourage a better understanding of personal finance and its wider social impact. Due for release in June, it will complement the existing moneymoneymoney leaflets and teacher’s guide.

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