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Archbishop’s finance task group announces primary school savings clubs

Thursday 13th November 2014

Primary school pupils would gain experience of money management under new proposals from the Archbishop of Canterbury's Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings.

A network of savings clubs in primary schools which could give pupils as young as four years old practical experience of money management is being proposed by the Church of England as part of a drive to raise the level of children’s financial awareness.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings is putting forward plans for a pilot scheme where savings clubs administered by credit unions in primary schools would encourage children to save small, regular amounts of money.

Children would also be given opportunities to take part in the running of the savings clubs, as junior cashiers or bank managers and their practical learning would be reinforced by classroom teaching materials.

The proposed teaching resources would cover areas such as understanding the role money plays in our lives, how to manage money and managing risks and emotions associated with money. The teaching pack would provide practical ideas for schools to promote values such as generosity including charitable giving and fundraising.

Parents and school staff would be allowed to join the credit union as part of the “whole-community” approach of the programme, with parents given the chance to set up dedicated accounts to save for school or family-related expenses such as uniforms and school trips.

The plans for school savings clubs mark the latest stage in the work of the task group which launches its new ToYourCredit website today with personal testimonies, videos, and blogs from initiatives across the country inspired by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Welcoming the plans, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “How we think about and use our money is central to a fulfilled and contented life. That is why I strongly support this exciting initiative to encourage children to develop positive attitudes towards money and the habit of saving.

“One in four primary and middle schools are Church of England schools, so this programme has the potential to make a significant difference to the lives of millions of children and future adults.”

Sir Hector Sants, chair of the task group, said: “Savings clubs can transform lives through helping establish a responsible approach to money from an early age.

“This programme would also strengthen communities through building links between schools, churches and credit unions, and is part of the Church of England’s broader initiative to support the development of a larger, vibrant and more sustainable community finance sector in this country.”

The programme would build on a number of successful small-scale initiatives already in place in parts of the country and evidence of what makes for an effective financial education programme.

Once evaluated, the proposed scheme would be extended to primary schools across the country starting with Church of England primary schools.The task group is seeking funding from Government and other sources for a pilot scheme in three areas of England working with the Credit Union Foundation and the Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg).

Six areas are being examined in the London, Yorkshire, East Midlands, North East and South West regions from which the three will be chosen.

The scheme follows analysis and research  by The Children’s Society, in a report released today, which argues that children need financial education from an early age as they face increasingly complex financial futures.  

The report, Supporting young savers: the case for savings clubs in schools, says online shopping, phone contracts and tuition fees all require children and young people to start making financial choices at an early age.

Many financial habits are formed by the age of seven years old, according to research highlighted in the report, with evidence showing that children engage with the financial services sector from a young age.

A survey last year showed that 64% of children get their first bank or building society account and 63% their first mobile phone before they start secondary school, the report said. It adds that children have “high levels” of exposure to debt with research showing that more than half of children aged 10 to 17 years old said they have seen advertising for loans “often” or “all of the time.”

Matthew Reed, chief executive of The Children’s Society, said: “It has never been more important for children to get a decent financial education. They are being regularly bombarded by irresponsible advertising, and too many families are becoming trapped in problem debt.

“Research and analysis by The Children’s Society support the idea that savings clubs in primary schools are an important step towards changing this."


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