Skills: Importance for the UK Economy and Quality of Life

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Thursday 9th May 2024

(1 month, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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I congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Aberdare, on securing this excellent debate. I declare my interest as an officer of the APPG on financial education for young people.

To equip young people with the best opportunity to succeed in future training and jobs after leaving school is to give them essential life skills. These must include financial literacy, among other work-related skills, and their teaching and fostering in schools must start early to ensure young people are ready to enter and thrive in the workplace. Some 79% of teachers surveyed by Teach First in 2022 believe their pupils are less ready today for the world of work compared to previous years. Recent research from Young Enterprise in its Inspiring Futures programme, which delivers applied learning programmes nationwide to pupils in areas of disadvantage, found that the young people they seek to engage consistently assess themselves as significantly below average in crucial personal attributes such as resilience, confidence, managing money and work-readiness.

As many pupils leave school and go straight into the self-employed workplace as sole traders or entrepreneurs and do not have the money, time or employer commitment to increase their skills, they must be able to rely on the skills they learn at school. Furthermore, school leavers that do go on to undertake further skills training would benefit from the underpinning of a sound financial education. Pupils who complete the Inspiring Futures programme have been shown to progress significantly and exceed their previously average skills assessment. This improvement shows how applied learning can enable young people to acquire critical skills for workplace readiness, including financial literacy, which also enable upward social mobility and positive emotional well-being.

However, the skills landscape is constantly changing. In 2023, the World Economic Forum estimated that six in 10 workers will need re-skilling by 2027, showing the importance of fostering and securing confidence and adaptability in young people now, at both primary and secondary curriculum levels. I would be grateful if the Minister indicated any progress made on this pivotal curricular point, which I may have mentioned previously in your Lordships’ House. It is that confidence and adaptability, combined with financial education and numeracy, that makes young people financially literate.

Financial education alone is not enough; the confidence to apply it and make informed decisions in the real world is vital to a young person realising their full economic potential. Moreover, it is not just the individual who wins. The Centre for Economics and Business Research found in 2021 that 11% of UK workers had experienced a fall in productivity over the preceding three years due to their personal financial situation. It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that research by GoHenry complements this finding: it predicts that an extra £6.98 billion would be added to the UK economy annually by prioritising financial education in schools.

This prediction is further strengthened by the Essential Skills Tracker 23, from the Skills Builder Partnership—together with the CIPD, the Edge Foundation and KPMG—which reveals that the cost to the UK economy of low essential skills in 2022 alone was £22 billion. Again, good education alone will not cut it. The same tracker found that 18% of workers with above-average literacy and numeracy levels have a very low essential skills score, meaning that they cannot properly implement and take advantage of that education. The 13% of the population who experience real social mobility—enjoying a strong income, job satisfaction and life satisfaction—combine their education with these all-important skills and confidence.

I was delighted to be part of the panel judging the recent Devon county final of the Young Enterprise Company Programme, which empowers young people to set up and run a student company under the guidance of a volunteer. Students make all the decisions about their business, including managing the company finances, and gain or embed the essential workplace skills I have mentioned. Putting all the fantastic studies I have cited aside, I saw for myself the terrific impact the Young Enterprise Company Programme can have on the young participants’ abilities to learn, adapt, and earn and manage money, and the boost it gives to their confidence and leadership abilities.

I hope that today, I have managed to highlight just how critical financial literacy and these enabling skills are to our young people right now; that they deserve early prioritisation in both primary and secondary school curricula—including through schemes like the Young Enterprise Company Programme, which I hope the Minister will endorse—and that they have the power to create a society with a confident young workforce supporting a more successful UK economy, not only by managing their own finances, future employment and quality of life successfully, but also our collective financial security.

Schools: Financial Education

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Wednesday 31st January 2024

(4 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Asked by
Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater
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To ask His Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to improve the financial literacy of children through the provision of financial education in schools.

Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, I am delighted to bring this debate to the House and thank all those who will contribute today. I declare my interest as an officer of the APPG on Financial Education for Young People.

Many of us will remember the world of piggy banks where real cash was kept; you could spend only what you had and no more. With physical money, life was somewhat simpler. Our children are living in a complex world of complicated financial decisions. Buying anything can be a minefield, from tempting credit offers, easy credit store cards and hire purchase to leasing and PCPs, and then there are scams, cyberattacks and payday loans. It is mind-boggling.

Banking is now significantly online. Contactless cards and payment by mobile phone make payments wonderfully easy, but spending is made easier too. It is all too quick to spend beyond your means.

I want to focus on a few things today. First, financial literacy is a life skill vital in preparing our young people for a rewarding life. Schools have an important role to play, so I hope today’s debate will focus on how we can strengthen and support provision in schools.

The London Institute of Banking & Finance reported in 2023 that 68% of children worry about money and their personal finances. Only 8% cited school as their main source of financial education, down from 15% the previous year.

Worrying about money is stressful. A survey of adults in the UK by Santander highlighted that 70% reported that better financial education would have improved their ability to manage their finances during the cost of living crisis, and two-thirds of young people believe that a lack of financial education has led them down the path of debt.

Money worries are the most important cause of anxiety in the UK, according to research from the Mental Health Foundation. Giving children the skills to manage their money and make informed decisions so they understand savings and investments, pensions, mortgages and loans can have a positive impact on their financial security in the future and on their mental well-being.

In 2023, GoHenry with Censuswide and Development Economics reported that prioritising financial education could have a positive impact on the wider economy too, adding nearly £6.98 billion into the UK economy each year and up to £202 billion by 2050. Children and young people are eager to learn. In March last year, the Institute of Banking & Finance reported that 82% would like to learn more about money and finance in school and college, up from 72% a year earlier. Research also tells us that parents want it too.

Secondly, financial education is not a statutory part of the national curriculum in primary schools in England. It is, however, embedded in the primary schools of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Research by Cambridge University, published by the Money and Pensions Service, indicates that habits and attitudes towards money are formed by the age of seven. Therefore, we should make sure that all primary school children, wherever they may live, have access to financial education.

According to a survey of primary school teachers by EVERFI in 2020, 82% considered teaching financial education to be very important, but 70% of them stated that financial literacy was not given enough importance. Positively, the Centre for Financial Capability identified that one in three primary-aged children receive some form of financial education, and there are some very good examples of financial literacy being taught in primary schools, but this means that in England it is a lottery as to whether you receive it or not. Making financial literacy a statutory part of the primary school curriculum would correct this, so I hope that my noble friend the Minister can make it happen.

It is a different picture in secondary schools. In 2014, provision of financial education became statutory in local authority schools, but delivery is variable and there are gaps. Those gaps are striking. The Money and Pensions Service comments that only 47% of seven to 17 year-olds in the UK—that is around 4.8 million children—receive a meaningful financial education.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Financial Education for Young People’s Building Beyond Barriers report in 2023 noted that over half of teachers did not know that financial education was part of the curriculum, yet we know that three in four teachers believe that teachers should play a leading role. The report tells us that financial education is considered challenging by teachers, with training, time and funding being key barriers. A survey commissioned by the Bank of England found that almost two-thirds of teachers felt that there was not enough time or resources to get financial education into the school year. We know that the curriculum is already under pressure with many other priorities, but we also know that teachers want to teach financial education and children want to learn it.

It is important to note that excellent materials are available from third parties and charities which help teachers deliver good financial education. Some of these resources, for example those produced by Young Enterprise and MyBnk, can bring teaching financial education to life by providing real-life situations, but sadly they are not delivered or available across all schools, adding to the lottery of life.

My third area of focus is where the provision of financial education should sit in the secondary curriculum. It presently sits in citizenship and maths programmes but not in PSHE, although it can sometimes be delivered in PSHE for those aged 11 to 16. We welcome the Prime Minister’s recently announced intention to have every child leave school with good numeracy skills. That is important to help them navigate their finances but so too are their values and attitudes towards money.

Financial education is not based on maths alone, and it would be doing it a disservice to try to put most of it within the maths curriculum, as some suggest. The importance of emergency funds—how would you cope if you suddenly lost your income, for example?—or the risk of identity theft are not topics for maths. This debate continues, and the recently announced House of Commons inquiry will no doubt look at this and how we strengthen financial education in all schools.

I turn briefly to Ofsted. It has a role to play. The APPG on Financial Education for Young People recommended that Ofsted undertake deep dives on the subject and be commissioned to map where financial literacy goals align with existing points in the curriculum. The APPG also recommended that Ofsted explore whether financial education should be in the education inspection framework. Those are all good proposals which I hope might gain traction.

The recent announcement by the Government to support financial inclusion through the dormant assets fund is very welcome. From that fund, the Government have pledged £87.5 million, and we are waiting to hear how it will be spent on financial education with a focus on children. The Centre for Financial Capability has made some interesting recommendations on how new funds could be spent, proposing financial education instructors for schools in the most deprived areas, free financial education teacher training, a hub of resources, and long-term evaluation to assess outcomes. Together with creating a financial capability innovation fund to stimulate new ideas, experimentation and collaboration, these are all good ideas. Can my noble friend the Minister provide any update on the dormant asset delivery and when the funds might be distributed?

Things are moving forward. The launch of the Money and Pensions Service’s 10-year strategy 2020-30 goes to the heart of financial well-being and includes a national goal to have 2 million more children and young people getting a meaningful financial education by 2030. This is a positive step forward, but perhaps we are not being ambitious enough. Would it not be good to have all children leave school with a good financial education well before 2030?

What we are doing at present is not enough. From research conducted by MyBnk and Comparethemarket, we know that only two in five young adults—41%—in the UK are financially literate. In some parts of the UK, we do have schools and teachers delivering high-quality financial education, but the education you receive should not be dependent on where in the country you live and the type of school you go to. We want every school and every teacher to be able to deliver a comprehensive and meaningful offer so that all children can leave school having a positive relationship with money and their personal finances.

I hope that this debate takes us a little further in helping to make that happen. We can make a real difference to people’s lives for this generation and for generations to follow. Let us seize the opportunity.

Life Skills and Citizenship

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Thursday 7th September 2023

(9 months, 3 weeks ago)

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Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady Garden, for securing this important debate. Life skills in schools are crucial in preparing our young people for a successful, rewarding and happy life, and I would like to declare my interest as vice-chair of the APPG on Financial Education for Young People.

Financial literacy is a vital life skill that gives our young people the ability to better navigate and manage their money and gives them better chances in life. Research by Cambridge University, published by the Money and Pensions Service, suggests that habits and attitudes towards money are formed around the age of seven. Further research in 2021 by the Centre for Financial Capability has found only one in five primary-aged children receive any form of financial education. Recent research by Santander shows that over two-thirds, or 68%, of parents believe teaching children about money should start young and be on the primary-school curriculum, and nearly 70% of UK adults say better financial education would have increased their ability to manage their finances as the cost of living rises. If we can give our young people a really good start to their financial education in primary schools, it would help lay a solid foundation to further their knowledge in secondary schools, where it is a compulsory part of the curriculum.

Financial education is on the curriculum in primary schools in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, so why not put it on the curriculum in England? There are some really good examples of financial education provision in some of our primary schools, assisted by organisations like Young Enterprise, but it cannot be right that not all of our children have the same access and, as a result, potentially risk missing out on achieving higher earning potential, less chance of debt, more savings—and the list goes on. We cannot control what decisions young people will make later on in life, but we can make sure that every child leaves school with this important life skill. I believe beginning this journey in primary school is necessary and it should be added as a compulsory subject to the primary school curriculum.

Teacher Vacancies

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Thursday 13th July 2023

(11 months, 2 weeks ago)

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Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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I am not aware that we are compiling a list of short-lived responses. We are committed to introducing improvements to the system that are based on evidence, such as the payments to early-career teachers in specialist subjects and the improvements that we have made to the early-career framework, which we introduced in 2021, providing mentors for every single early-career teacher. We are committed to building on those policies, including in relation to continuing professional development being a core part of every teacher’s experience in future.

Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, given the Government’s ambition that all school pupils in England study some form of maths until the age of 18, what plans do they have to recruit more maths teachers to fulfil this ambitious target?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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This is an incredibly important target. As the House knows, we are an outlier in the G7 in not offering maths up to 18 for all students. In everything we do in this area we work closely with schools and colleges to make sure that we understand what works on the ground. The first step will be to launch a new, fully funded national professional qualification for those leading maths in primary schools, teaching them how to train teaching participants and other colleagues how to embed mastery through their school. We expect that to be available to all primary schools from February next year and, as I mentioned, we are offering significant bursaries, scholarships and premiums to early-career teachers in maths in particular parts of the country.

Schools: Curriculum Update

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Thursday 8th June 2023

(1 year ago)

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Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, numerous reports, including the publication in February from the APPG on Financial Education for Young People, of which I am vice-chair, have consistently highlighted that the provision of financial education is severely lacking in our schools. Can the Minister tell me why the Government do not prioritise this issue, given that doing so would result in more of our children leaving school with a crucial life skill?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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I cannot accept my noble friend’s assertion that we are not providing this effectively. We appreciate that there are some issues in the delivery of financial education—for example, we know that only 69% of secondary schools say that they teach money management. I know that reviews have shown a lack of confidence among some teachers in delivering financial education, which is why the Oak National Academy is producing more dedicated materials to support teachers. The Money and Pensions Service produced financial education guidance for schools in 2021. We are working on this across every aspect, but I reiterate that without mathematics and reading, we will not achieve financial literacy.

Water Safety (Curriculum) Bill [HL]

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, I thank noble Lords for allowing me to speak in the gap today. I also thank the noble Lord, Lord Storey, for bringing the Bill to the House. I will speak very briefly, and I refer to my relevant interests in the register.

We have heard, very powerfully, that learning to swim is an essential life skill and saves lives. We know that PE is a statutory requirement in primary schools, and within that there is a component on swimming and water safety. We have heard quite a lot about that today, so I will not go into any more detail. I support fellow noble Lords in requesting more information from my noble friend the Minister on data and recording.

I want to bring up one important issue. I stress the increased risks and concerns surrounding the economic challenges facing pool facilities, which are leading to the closure of pools and leisure centres. We must acknowledge and welcome the recent funding that the Government have given to support swimming pools with their increased energy costs. However, there are still the ongoing pressures of the costs of transporting children to and from swimming pools, their lessons and hiring the pools, which have all substantially increased since the cost of living crisis. I would be most grateful to hear my noble friend’s thoughts about how we keep and maintain the facilities and keep the costs down for the many schools that are struggling.

We must make sure not only that these swimming lessons and the life skills that we have all talked about are prioritised within every primary school’s PE and sport premium funding but that the increased help and guidance to access appropriate funds are given where needed. School pool facilities must be made available, however difficult this is, to all primary schools so that these essential swimming lessons are delivered.

I said I would be very brief, so I finish by agreeing with everyone here today that no child or adult should ever come to harm from not being able to swim. I hope that the Government continue to find effective and workable solutions to ensure that every child leaving primary school can swim and self-rescue.

Schools: Data, Digital and Financial Literacy

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Tuesday 14th March 2023

(1 year, 3 months ago)

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Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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The noble Lord makes a broader point. Many of those issues are indeed covered in the curriculum. Specifically in relation to financial choices, there is dedicated time to look at social and moral dilemmas, to which the noble Lord refers, within the citizenship curriculum today.

Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, the APPG on Financial Education for Young People’s recent report alarmingly highlighted that 41% of secondary school teachers in England said they did not think that financial education is required as part of the curriculum, and a further 15% did not know. Does the Minister agree with the APPG’s recommendation that Ofsted undertake a series of deep dives into financial education provision across schools as a matter of urgency?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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I am very sympathetic to the issues that my noble friend raises, but our approach to these issues has been to weave them through multiple aspects of the curriculum. My noble friend will be aware that, for example in relation to maths and computing, this is something that Ofsted will regularly be doing deep dives into when it is inspecting individual schools.

Schools: Financial Education

Baroness Sater Excerpts
Tuesday 12th July 2022

(1 year, 11 months ago)

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Asked by
Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what progress they have made with improving the delivery of financial education to 11 to 16 year-olds since it became a statutory part of the citizenship national curriculum.

Baroness Barran Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education (Baroness Barran) (Con)
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My Lords, financial education is covered in citizenship and mathematics curricula. Our school snapshot survey in 2021 showed that 86% of secondary schools teach pupils how to make good decisions about money, including on spending and saving. We have been working together with the Money and Pensions Service and Her Majesty’s Treasury, and will be launching webinars in the autumn to support the effective teaching of financial education.

Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con)
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My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Minister for her response. A report last month by the Centre for Social Justice found that only 8% of students cite schools as their main source of financial education, while a Bank of England commission survey back in March found that almost two-thirds of teachers cited a lack of dedicated time in the timetable for delivery. Does the Minister agree that more needs to be done to address these worrying statistics to help our children learn how to manage their money and give them the best start in life?

Baroness Barran Portrait Baroness Barran (Con)
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My noble friend is right in that we can do more to embed financial education in the curriculum. The webinars that I referred to will build on the financial education guidance for schools published by the Money and Pensions Service last year. It highlights the links between financial education and the curriculum, and how primary and secondary schools can improve the financial education that they deliver.