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Seven strategies to help teachers explore financial literacy

06 Nov 2023

Seven strategies for teachers to explore financial literacy with young people

Understanding financial jargon can be a challenge at any age and can even trip up people who feel confident in their reading abilities. Imagine trying to unpick a utility bill or decipher a payslip with limited literacy. We know that literacy skills are essential in helping young people understand the world around them. We also know that there is a direct link between literacy skills and financial resilience.

Building financial resilience early on, in schools and community settings, ensures young people are empowered to take control of their own future. Teachers are vital in this process and can equip young people with the skills to start creating sensible money habits which will help them become as financially stable as possible.

However, the prospect of teaching financial literacy in the classroom can feel daunting. To give teachers a steer on where to start, the National Literacy have created a series of resources, activities and workshops on the subject borne out of our Words That Count programme, in partnership with Experian.

Discover our seven different strategies which teachers can try in their classroom or setting to introduce young people to the topic of financial literacy and financial resilience.

1. Watch our Words that Count series with TikTok influencer Poku Banks

We invited TikTok influencer Poku Banks to create a series of videos that breakdown challenging financial terms and topics including income tax, budgeting, and rewards and consequences. Each of the seven videos in the series tackles a separate topic and unpacks the misconceptions attached to financial terminology. Poku is passionate about helping young people become better equipped to understand their finances. With over 330,000 followers on TikTok alone, Poku continues to create relatable and engaging content that resonates with young people.

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Watch the first part of the videos with the young people in your setting and pause halfway through to discuss what they have seen as a group. This will give them an opportunity to critique what they have heard, apply what they may know already and hear different opinions from one another. Each video concludes with an explanation of the topic by Poku which will also give you a springboard for further discussion with your students.

Watch the Words that Count series with Poku Banks on our YouTube channel

2. Run our Words that Count programme in your setting

Words that Count is our financial resilience programme designed for young people aged 11 to 14 who have been excluded or are at risk of exclusion in mainstream and alternative provision settings in England and Scotland. It is a fully resourced programme which aims to unpick the financial terms that young people might struggle with so that they feel empowered to make more informed financial decisions, plan for their future and in doing so, build financial resilience.

The 10-session programme runs thanks to funding from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS). Teachers are invited to register to deliver the workshops in their setting from Spring 2024.

Find out more about Words that Count and how to run it in your setting.

3. Join our FREE financial literacy CPD webinar in January 2024

Our specialist secondary advisory team have devised a 60-minute webinar designed to support all secondary phase teachers with discussing financial topics with young people. The webinar explores practical ways to harness the power of literacy for developing your understanding and confidence around this topic.

4. Include financial principles in your maths lessons

Tired of giving students the same old tasks around key numeracy skills? Dress up your maths lessons by substituting activities for the following:

  • Addition and multiplication → Calculating income
  • Percentages → Calculating interest, deducting tax
  • Working with negatives Debt

5. Get hands on with financial vocabulary

As we’ve discussed already, financial terminology can confuse all of us! But don't be afraid of financial lingo. Most financial vocabulary has a 'real world' application that young people will already understand or already have a frame of reference. Help students to connect the dots between the financial meaning and what they already know about the word based on other experiences or uses of the term. For example, the word invest has a more familiar meaning when it is used to talk about investing time. Start by discussing the word and its ‘everyday’ meaning before applying the financial definition and then asking, ‘how can I use the word in a financial context?’.

If you enjoy the series with Poku Banks we mention earlier, you can find more content on our Words for Life website. As part of our Words that Count campaign in partnership with Experian, Poku challenged the general public to a game of Lingo Bingo to find out how many people really understand what common financial terms mean.

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6. Avoid talking about money!

That's right, ignore the numbers. Financial responsibility often comes through the decisions we make and that can often be a consideration before we even think about the cost in monetary value. It is important to explore the concept of ‘want’ versus ‘need’ to help students prioritise and better understand how to manage their budgets, whatever size the budget might be.

  • Give your students a chance to vote on whether a purchase is a want or a need. Wi-Fi for example, in some contexts could be categorised as a want, but what if you work from home, does that change the outcome? Here are some other expenditures you can ask them about: fast food, sports channel subscription, Netflix, owning a car, going on holiday.
  • Create a class budget plan. Use an online supermarket website to help students create a simple meal plan for the day or week. This will help them understand the value of items, begin to make choices and practise how to spread their expenditure over time.
  • Discuss how money makes people feel. Present students with scenarios and ask them how they would feel. This will help them to understand that often we attach emotions to our spending.

7. Lean on the experts

The topic of financial resilience is far-reaching and can feel daunting to approach. Once you have taken part in our webinar, accessed our resources and explored how to embed Words That Count into your plans, don’t hesitate to reach out to experts who will support with more advice and guidance.

The Golden Rules

Talking about money can be challenging in any scenario but especially in the classroom. That's why we've created some golden rules to help you tackle this topic sensitively and ensure a positive learning experience for anyone involved:

  1. Be unbiased and open minded with your responses.
  2. Be honest, if you don’t know, tell your students you are unsure of an answer.
  3. Take the time to research and revisit at another point.
  4. Keep students safe - some students may find some topics difficult, particularly during this cost-of-living crisis. Consider how you can make the experience more comfortable and create a safe space for discussion and learning.

Get in touch

If you have any questions about what you have read or you would like to discuss financial literacy in the classroom with one of our team, please don't hesitate to email us directly.

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