I still can’t quite believe it. Financial education is going to be part of the national curriculum (see the MSE News story). I found out sitting on a London to Manchester train at 9.58am yesterday – 90 minutes before it happened.
I must admit I broke the quiet carriage rules with an involuntary "yessss", to receive a suitably stern look from the Spanish lady sitting opposite me.
The Department for Education gave me a call to say there’d be an announcement in the House at 11.30am (partly as it was my e-petition last year that forced the debate).
I kept calm and asked for a statement to see what it really was. I was expecting a damp squib mention. Yet what I saw was getting on for a huge chunk of what we asked for in the APPG report (which, I’m very proud that MSE funded – not what was said, but paying for the facilities). It was at this point I yessssed.
Financial education is to be a core part of citizenship, which crucially is a compulsory part of the national curriculum – therefore every maintained school must teach it. Exactly what we’ve wanted.
Not even a mention, Mr Gove?
By the time I arrived at Radio 5 Live before my regular Thursday Consumer Panel slot, the Education Secretary Michael Gove was making his announcement in the Commons – it was all about the much-vaunted change of mind over GCSE scrapping.
Sadly he didn’t even mention financial education. While the fact it’s happening at all is wonderful and the most important thing; it’s slightly frustrating for those of us who’ve been campaigning for so long that the change came without even a Hansard footnote. (Strange really – it’s a no-brainer, a hugely popular change – I’m surprised he didn’t lead with it and take political capital from it.)
On the back of the announcement, sadly the media coverage has been less than I’d hoped (barring me pushing to get it out) – nothing on any main TV news bulletin, a shame for the 118,000 who signed the petition and made this happen.
So we made a quick call back to the Department to check it hadn’t changed its decision, then press-released it – to try to start the news flow.
This will change maths too
It was while on air at Radio 5 that I found out we’d also made a dent in Maths too – which had been part of our two-pronged focus.
Now, for the first time, the term "financial mathematics" appears in key stages 3 and 4 of the maths curriculum.
This means there is genuine recognition of the need for people to be able to calculate APRs and percentages and understand them (exactly what we pushed Education Minister Liz Truss for last week – thank you for listening).
I think that will not only be a boon for financial education, but also for maths itself – helping out with basic numerical problems. While theoretical maths puts many off the subject, talk to them about the cash in their pockets and they get it. So taught well, I hope this will make maths more appealing.
Of course this is still at proposal stage, and we’ll be submitting to that, but we’re pretty confident that now it’s in the proposal, it’ll be tough to get it out.
An important PS. In my blog a few weeks ago on What’s happening to my £10m donation? I wrote that I wanted a chunk of the money to go towards helping financial education. This announcement has changed the game somewhat, so we need to act quicker.
As such, I’m going to donate £100,000 of it to the charity Pfeg. I haven’t told the chief exec of the charity yet, as I know she’ll read this blog and the naughty boy in me quite likes the idea of her finding out, as she reads a PS.