In general, schools have improved so much in recent years. When I reflect on my own experiences a few decades ago and then witnessed in recent years the differences through the eyes of my daughter, it feels like another world.
Attitudes have changed. Teaching methods have changed. Everything now is more visual and engaging and the internet has certainly helped to accelerate this. Parents’ evenings also provided me with an eye-opener of what went on in the classrooms. I couldn’t believe the level of equipment that was available to students. Not just things like laptops but also a lot of high-tech craft design and production tools, and loads of sports equipment. I helped coach football at my daughter’s school for a couple of years. I couldn’t believe how much sports stuff they had compared with the few soft and beaten-up footballs I would have had access to in my time.
I felt quite envious of everything that was on offer. Of course, my daughter saw things slightly differently and usually found something to moan about at the end of each day.
One aspect that I think could still be improved in school, is teaching students about finance.
Schools should prepare students, as much as possible, on how to survive in the outside world. Finance affects everyone, regardless of your personal circumstances.
My daughter recently left school and is now at university. During the application process and obtaining her student loan, she had to open a new bank account and fill in various forms etc. She didn’t have a clue where to begin. Although I was happy to assist, I was shocked at how unprepared for all this she was. I just assumed she would have been taught at school about finance. How to open a bank account? How to apply for a mortgage? What does APR stand for and how does it work? But no. I wouldn’t expect her to know about the intricacies of a bridging loan but I thought she would have learned the basics. The kind of basics every student needs to know.
This isn’t just my opinion. Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis has highlighted this problem. He felt so strongly about it, that he created his own free Open University course to help fill the gap, to enable students the opportunity of a grounding in financial knowledge.
Fortunately, there are other resources available online to do much of the heavy lifting when trying to solve any financial matter you may have.
The starting point of so many financial journeys is working to a budget. This is much easier if you have access to a ready-made budget planner. It’s so easy to forget something when you try and do your own and this does all the calculations for you. It comes with an informative guide too.
Perhaps you want to buy your first house but you’ve no idea if you could afford the mortgage repayments. What you need is a mortgage calculator to work this out. You set the term, interest rate and how much you wish to borrow and the calculator shows the monthly repayments. I like the way you can experiment to see how changing the parameters affect the repayments figure. Again, there’s an in-depth explanation of everything.
You’ll see loads of other financial calculators to cover all the common topics whether saving or borrowing. When you’ve had enough of the number crunching check out the maths games section for a bit of fun!
So despite schools lagging behind on the topic of finance, all is not lost.
Like with so many issues, the internet yet again comes to the rescue by giving us access to many of the essential financial tools we need in our everyday lives.