Mutuals' role in financial education

Andrew Gall, Head of Savings and Economics showcases the work that building societies and credit unions do to deliver financial education to their communities.

On NSPCC National Numbers Day, the BSA's Head of Savings and Economics showcases the work that building societies and credit unions do to deliver financial education to their communities.

It’s great to see children in schools and nurseries dress up today to take part in the NSPCC’s Number Day – a day when they can think about how their maths skills can be used in everyday life.

Several building societies and credit unions have been delivering financial education classes to communities across the UK for a number of years. Many have worked with their local schools and community organisations to ensure the programmes they deliver respond to the specific needs of their communities.

But financial education is more than just teaching the general concepts of saving and borrowing, it’s also about helping children and young people to be aware of how to make conscious decisions about money, and understand how financial independence generally leads to better outcomes in life.

In our report - An Investment in Knowledge: Financial Education from Building Societies and Credit Unions – we showcase the wide range of approaches that our members have adopted to facilitate financial education in their own communities, which include:

  • Their teams volunteering to plan and deliver activities in schools and community centres
  • Delivering resources developed by financial education experts like Young Money, The Money Charity and MyBnk to schools and community groups
  • Designing their own financial education resources and delivering them in schools
  • Partnering with local charities whose volunteers deliver financial education sessions in schools
  • Using the Building Societies Association’s white labelled resources to deliver financial education

Parents, teachers and headteachers have warmly welcomed the time, energy and resources that their local mutuals are putting into designing and delivering financial education programmes.

Building societies and credit unions recognise that their role is not to be the main source of financial education, but their sustained efforts and relationships with appropriate partners is making a difference to communities across the UK. They continue to review their programmes to ensure they change and remain relevant, with new developments including topics such as digital banking, cryptocurrencies and green finance. Some societies are adopting the Talk-Learn-Do approach promoted by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), which further demonstrates how financial education will continue to change.

The report also highlights that more should be done to embed financial education in schools’ curriculum. This would require:

  • Increasing the funding for financial education
  • Positioning financial education into the primary curriculum in England
  • Encouraging academies and free schools to give financial education more weight within their programmes.

So whilst there’s still lots more to do, I hope that with activities such as today’s Number Day and the ongoing support provided by the building societies and credit unions regionally-led initiatives, the next generation will develop good financial lifestyle habits from a young age that will continue throughout their adulthood.