Financial education – We all know how important it is, and that we should help children understand how to manage their money. But I don’t often get a chance to do something about it. Last week I had the opportunity to visit the amazing Grafton Primary School in Islington, where I helped deliver a financial education class with John Glen MP, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, Mike Regnier, the Chief Executive of the Yorkshire Building Society and Nigel Moore, the Strand Branch Manager.
Yorkshire Building Society has a well developed ‘Money Minds’ programme, aimed at helping children and young adults between the ages of 5 and 19 to better understand finances. The website offers resources for staff to download and teach. It also provides the opportunity for schools to sign up to have staff come into school and deliver the session.
The lesson focused on ‘wants and needs’ and was delivered to a class of 6-7 year olds. In the session we focused on understanding the difference between the things we need; like food, shelter and clothes, as well as the things we want; such as ice cream, sweets and games consoles - a popular option with the class, it took a while to understand that they aren’t a 'need'!
As well as a class discussion about pocket money, saving up to buy something and the concept of budgeting, there were plenty of activities for the children to grapple with and make decisions about. The first activity was to identify costs in the home, such as food, furniture, electrical appliances and often-unseen utilities such as gas and electricity.
The children then had to choose two items they needed and wanted on a desert island. This was a very popular exercise and ice cream, games consoles, mobile phones, water, food, shelter and clothes were on the list. Water, food and shelter were high on the ‘needs’ list, and ice cream and games consoles made appearances on the ‘wants’ list.
The final activity focused on how different people have different needs and wants. Using the example of a younger sibling, such as a baby, and their own wants and needs really did help bring the differences to life in a very real way.
The session concluded with feedback from the children, detailing what they had learnt. I particularly valued the children’s feedback: They clearly enjoyed the session and had learnt something new through it. I enjoyed the session and appreciated working with colleagues on it. I also thought about my wants and needs afterwards and changed my shopping habits.
More information can be found on the Money Minds website.