Top private school advises bank of England

Scotland’s prestigious George Watson’s college, a £9,000 per year independent school, came 3rd in the Bank of England’s annual Interest Rate Challenge competition in March and is now going on to introduce compulsory lessons in money management.


A team of sixth form students appeared before the Monetary Policy Committee of the Bank in March to offer their suggestions for pulling the country through the recession. They recommended keeping rates on hold at 0.5 per cent, which the Bank has done since then. Coming third in the competition, the school won £2,000 and has taken the step to introduce money management classes.


Students will be taught weekly on topics such as how to budget properly, bank accounts, student loans and credit cards. The school is also introducing lessons on cookery and healthy eating in response to the growing obesity epidemic.


Surprisingly, the financial awareness classes were actually requested by the pupils, rather than from above, with deputy principal Dr Rodney Mallinson saying that some senior pupils had been “frightened” by how the economic downturn had taken hold and realised they had to get a grip of issues like debt, credit, comparing mortgages and managing a budget. “There has been real demand for lessons on financial awareness and on how to plan a budget,” he said.


Ron Sandler CBE, chairman of Northern Rock and former chairman of Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG), said: “It is never too young to start learning how to handle money. Becoming financially aware – knowing what money is and what it means and how to be comfortable and confident dealing with it – are vital lessons which will stand them in good stead into their adult years.”

Judith Gillespie, policy development officer for the Scottish Parent Teaching Council, welcomed the move, but expressed some reservations:


“Teaching children how to manage money is to be welcomed but it needs to be about how to budget rather than lessons in general finance,” she said. “For example, they need to learn about bank balances and the fact they might not show money they have just spent. Learning about loans and managing store cards is also a good idea.”

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