On March 1st, the Education Secretary tabled amendments to the upcoming Children and Social Work Bill that would make PSHE compulsory as early as 2019 (LINK). This is a welcome victory for those in the PSHE Association and wider campaign who have been working on it for years. Much of the interest has been around sex education, but if this change carves out more time and attracts greater resources for PSHE as a whole, it represents a real opportunity to push financial education up the agenda.
Our recent research (LINK) showed that two thirds of teachers believe that financial education provision in the UK is not effective. The lack of time, funding and skills are the most cited reasons for this, and it’s clear that for the situation to improve school leaderships need radically different incentives than they have today.
It’s not just financial education that has been out-competed for schools’ limited financial resources and time. Research from the Department of Education (LINK) in late 2015 showed a 32% decline in the average amount of time schools give to PSHE. Making it compulsory should mean more timetabled time and inclusion on the Ofsted common inspection framework – both moves which would encourage school leaderships to take financial education as seriously as we found rank and file teachers do.
Though it is actually in the Maths and Citizenship curriculum, PSHE is the most common home for financial education in schools. So the Governments’ decision to make it compulsory would give schools an incentive to properly provide these vital life skills.
While the changes discussed so far have largely concerned sex education, we encourage Justine Greening to take this chance to bolster the rest of PSHE too, and we look forward to playing a full part in the upcoming consultation.