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School students can be whiz kids with money. I’ve seen it over and over – hopefully you have too.
But we don’t always let them flex their financial wings. We hold them back from reaching their highest potential, perhaps because of our own fraught relationships with money or past financial decisions that we’re not particularly proud of.
Or perhaps it’s because we want to downplay that money’s important. After all, we don’t want them becoming greedy urchins – acting like money is the be-all and end-all.
But maybe it’s just because we were never taught this stuff in the first place.
Yet with their highly absorbent brains engaged – at a time in life before things get far more complicated – students are particularly well-placed to get their money heads screwed on straight. Financial nous is a core life skill after all.
Which leads us to Sorted in Schools.
Wouldn’t it be great to wake up in a world where money smarts are taught in schools along with everything else?
We can now say it’s so. Sorted in Schools, the first government-funded financial capability programme that’s aligned with the National Curriculum, is out and about in schools around the country. At this writing, resources for years 9 and 10 have been rolled out, with 35% of secondary schools already using them. The programme is gaining traction nationwide and has now reached 181,000 students.
That includes kura Māori too – resources for Māori Medium Education have also been developed. They've been co-designed with kaiako to express a Māori worldview (so they're not just some literal translation). Close to half the kura in the country are already involved.
All going to plan, by 2021 all secondary school students should have access to Sorted in Schools.
This doesn’t mean financial capability will be a separate subject. Money has a way of touching everything, so it’s being woven into existing curriculum topics such as maths, social studies, digital technologies and English.
Teachers can adapt financial capability and make it seamless – and they’ll have an array of tools and support to help. It’s a programme built by teachers for teachers to succeed.
When I explain things to my teens, like the difference between a debit card and a credit card (one’s your money, the other’s the bank’s) I’m mindful of how much keeps changing. Pay later options, payday loans, peer-to-peer lending, cryptocurrency – there are so many new technologies emerging that we have no idea what’s in store.
How do we equip young Kiwis for their financial future if we don’t know what it will be like? This is a fast-changing environment they’re growing up in.
Teaching financial capability is challenging. Yet many principles about managing money and getting ahead over the long term will stay constant, and that’s what Sorted in Schools will get across. There will be many more ways in the future to get into debt or get investing – it’s the concepts that count.
Students need to be empowered to manage their money in a way that allows them to do the many things they’d like to in life. Let’s make sure they all leave school knowing how to make money work for them and grow it sustainably for their future.
So the question is: does your school use Sorted in Schools yet?