Financial fluency: a community concern

Issue: Volume 93, Number 7

Posted: 5 May 2014
Reference #: 1H9ctR

A cluster of Auckland schools are ensuring students, parents, and teachers are talking the same language when it comes to financial literacy.

A group of Auckland schools are integrating financial literacy education into their curriculum and are being supported by a facilitator, an evaluator, and an advisory group in their efforts to help students become more money wise.

The Upper Harbour Cluster is made up of eight institutions, including primary and secondary schools and one university, which share the vision of “financially fluent students, teachers, and parents.”

The schools are the first to become a Sorted Schools cluster, each of which recognises the importance of integrating financial literacy across a range of subjects.

Albany Junior High School deputy principal Tina Hallowes says that the concept of “financial fluency for all” is a concept that the cluster came up with as a neat encapsulation of what they wanted to achieve.

“I think it was Pete Hall from Upper Harbour Primary who came up with the term ‘financial fluency’. He liked the idea as describing what we were aiming for.

“This became the three main goals of our cluster: financial fluency for staff, students, and parents.

“We need to up-skill teachers to feel confident in delivering the message, and we need to up-skill parents so that when kids come home with these messages, they’re talking the same language.”

The cluster’s various financial literacy approaches are informed by a new set of tools and resources including a set of financial capability progressions of learning. These provide guidance on what students should know at various levels and were officially launched last week (see sidebar). The community will also be involved in a variety of ways, including parents of the students.

Albany Junior High School teaches financial literacy throughout its year levels in subjects including technology, mathematics, social studies, and English.

Tina says financial literacy is a high-interest topic for middle school students.

“Our students are aged 11 to 15, and money is extremely important to them, so we get really good buy in from the students.”

Rather than a specialist subject, or one that’s only taught in economics or business classes, financial literacy can be integrated into any subject, in a way that makes it relevant to students, she says.

“When the school choir is going on a field trip, the students can work together to find out how much it costs to hire a bus, and how much each student will need to pay. It’s a great example of a real-world situation in which, instead of teachers looking after things like fund-raising, there’s opportunities for learning and getting the kids involved.”

Tina says teachers may lack the confidence to teach personal finance when they themselves don’t feel sorted.

“The most important thing is to realise that you can facilitate financial literacy learning without being an expert yourself and there are many resources out there that can help. The Sorted website is a great place to start the conversation.”

Tina says also that the integrated approach is powerful in terms of fostering excellent engagement.

“I think it’s powerful because students actually see [financial fluency] in a real-life context. So they’ll take that contextual learning, and apply it when they need it. A lot of the time when we teach, the kids aren’t able to apply it to their lives.

“One of the main outcomes we’re after is better engagement: if students can relate, they’ll of course be more interested and attentive. That should stand them in good stead when they need the learning in the real world. We want them to take that engagement home, and talk to their parents about it, because the contexts happen in every household in a very real way.

Financial literacy is a community issue. One could say, in fact, that financial literacy is a national concern: if people are uneducated in financial reality, and we become a society that’s heavily in debt, that’s a problem for the whole country.”

Takapuna Grammar School has developed a six-week block of personal financial literacy into a Year 10 Enterprise and Financial Literacy course.

Head of the Centre for Business and Enterprise, Emma Johnson, says the course is designed to teach the students skills they’ll use when they leave school.

“When they’re looking at a particular career, they research how much studying will cost. Will they receive government support? Does your hall fee include food or internet? Will you need a part-time job while you’re studying?

“We want them to leave school with financial independence and have the skills to make good financial decisions. Our objective is to assist students to move from relying financially on their parents to taking responsibility for their own finances as they become young adults,” Emma says.

The Upper Harbour Cluster will meet regularly to share feedback, resources and tools, resolve issues and share successes. Teachers will be supported by a facilitator and an independent evaluation will help understand the critical success factors.
Tina says they hope their initiative will help create ideas, tools and resources and new learning that can be shared with others.

Upper Harbour Cluster schools:

  • Albany Junior High School
  • Albany Senior High School
  • Hobsonville Point High School
  • Takapuna Grammar School
  • Upper Harbour Primary School
  • Westlake Girls High School
  • Massey University – Albany campus

The Ministry of Education has released a collection of new online resources to support schools in their development of learning programmes that encourage financial capability: the skills, knowledge, and disposition to make good financial decisions throughout students’ lives.

The resources explain why financial capability is important and how it can be implemented across the curriculum for Years 1–13. Stories from schools and examples of learning programmes are included alongside the new Financial Capability Progressions.

More information about financial capability within the NZC can be found on TKI(external link) 
Access the financial capability progressions(external link)

For more information on the rationale behind the design(external link) of the new resources, and an explanation of the evidence that informed the progressions.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 11:28 AM, 5 May 2014

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