73% of young people want mortgage advice at school

Young people are worried about their financial futures, and research shows that school pupils want to learn more about money and mortgages at school.

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After almost two years of disruption for schools, it seems that secondary pupils are reassessing their education. Apparently, they want to see some changes. For example, pupils would like more opportunities to learn about money management and mortgages. 

Youth-led social enterprise Conscious Youth polled 10 to 18-year-olds about their experiences of learning during the pandemic. Asked what topics they would like to explore going foward, young people revealed that mental health was their top priority, with personal finance second.

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As many as 73% of young people think they will leave school without a clear understanding of mortgages and money

[top_pitch]

Do kids learn about mortgages at school?

Disappointingly, only just over a third of school pupils recall having any financial education at school, according to the Money and Pensions Service. However, this doesn’t mean that money is not on the curriculum already. In fact, the topic of money appears frequently in maths lessons and maths homework. This is usually more from the point of view of work and business, admittedly.

Perhaps it may be that teachers are more concerned about helping their pupils get well-paid jobs. After all, it’s hard to get a mortgage without a decent income.

Additionally, pupils may not see mathematical problems as relevant to their own lives, even though they directly refer to money. For example, simple and compound interest is on the GCSE maths syllabus. There is no doubt that this learning can be applied to mortgages, loans and savings but the teaching is likely to be focused on passing the exam.

Similarly, the teaching of history, sociology, geography and business studies touches on the role of money in society. Again, this is academic rather than practical.

Fortunately, money and mortgages also feature as part of the personal and social development curriculum. This is where pupils can learn in a more person-centred and active way. However, the provision for money management teaching outside of the academic curriculum will vary across schools, and the focus on this topic might only be occasional. 

Why do young people want to learn about mortgages?

Conscious Youth found that young people are keen to learn more practical and life skills at school. Furthermore, they would like the emphasis of their education to be on a fairer society, through more teaching about black history, human rights, personal relationships, LGBTQ+ rights and law. 

Preparing for life as an adult is a priority, and learning about mortgages fits into that. It’s clear that secondary school pupils expect their time in class to enhance their prospects. Education for its own sake is less important. Pupils know that managing their finances and paying for a home through a mortgage could be key to their sense of security in adulthood.

Sophie Simpson, co-founder and CEO of Conscious Youth said: “The world has changed dramatically, and the issues young people are facing are different to when I was at school. It’s more important than ever to ensure they are equipped with the right knowledge and skills to be able to succeed in the future.”

[middle_pitch]

Do mortgages really need to be on the curriculum?

Owner-occupiers, with or without a mortgage, make up just over 60% of households in the UK. With the average age of a first-time buyer at 32 years, it’s reasonable to suggest that young people don’t need specific mortgage advice urgently. For many people, renting is the only option. Educating school pupils about the kinds of housing options they can expect, and how much money they need to save and earn is relevant to them. 

The UK Strategy for Financial Wellbeing is a 10-year plan that aims to ensure that two million more pupils and young people get a meaningful financial education. Governement bodies and young people are on the same page, calling for improvement in financial education. 

How can money management be taught at school?

While the majority of school pupils missed their teachers and friends during lockdown, some found learning at home useful. Conscious Youth’s poll found that over a third of pupils would like to see a combination of at-home and in-classroom education in the future. Personal finance education, including mortgages, savings and investment is deliverable remotely and is already available online.

There is a role for families in providing financial education. Schools can’t be expected to have all the answers. Encouraging a savings habit is a great place to start. However, while some families have chaotic financial management, others are adept at savings and investments. Perhaps schools should begin to play a part in addressing these financial inequalities. 

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