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Personal financial capability education

Personal and Social Education

Personal financial capability education

The Citizens Advice Bureau in a North Wales local authority area recognised a need to establish a school-based money management project. Working closely with the PSE coordinator in a local high school and with Basic Skills Agency Cymru tutors, a series of four one hour personal finance education sessions were developed and delivered through the school’s PSE programme to all Year 10 pupils. The pilot project was well received by pupils and an independent evaluation reported positive findings.

Personal finance education, delivered by form tutors, is now embedded within the Key Stage 3 PSE programme. In Key Stage 4, a two hour money management programme is delivered by CAB staff through the school’s PSE programme to all Year 10 pupils. A similar programme is offered more widely to schools across the local authority area. The programme is also delivered successfully to groups of disengaged 14 to 16-year-olds who attend local FE Colleges.

Learners are helped to understand their role and responsibilities as consumers and to cultivate a personal financial capability which enables them to make effective decisions. Topics covered include:

  • the consequences of money mismanagement
  • debt; non-payment of bills
  • feeling associated with debt
  • budgeting
  • living independently
  • banking; choosing and managing accounts
  • saving
  • borrowing/lending money; APR and interest charges
  • how to access financial advice and support.

Lessons are highly interactive. Each session is a mixture of presentation, verbal reasoning, and participant questions and suggestions, supported by information sheets. Learners work in groups and points are awarded to each ‘team’. Sometimes learners have to carry out a small research task, for example, asking at home about budgeting issues or payment methods, or watching credit card adverts on the television. Course materials, task and information sheets build into a learner portfolio.

Learners have also been involved in editing a bilingual young person’s handbook ’Drowning in a sea of debt’, a copy of which is given to each learner as a part of the course. The materials have also been adapted for use with post-16 learners. Currently Year 10 learners in two secondary schools are developing a bilingual DVD which will make money-related matters available to the wider community.

Links with the PSE framework


The activities help to develop basic practical skills needed for daily life specifically personal financial management skills. The use of relevant case studies encourages learners to work together and to develop a range of thinking skills.


This case study addresses the 'Preparing for lifelong learning' theme. Learners are given opportunities to understand:

  • how to become competent at managing personal finances and recognise that saving provides financial independence
  • their rights as consumers and their responsibilities in terms of managing a budget
  • the importance of planning for their financial futures and how to access financial advice.

In an independent evaluation, 100 per cent of pupils said they found the personal finance education course useful and 90 per cent of learners said they believed that the course would help them stay out of debt.

There are also links with other curriculum subjects; for example Year 10 GCSE Drama and English pupils use drama performances and poetry to share key messages with younger pupils, e.g. the issues arising around family debt.

Future plans

The Citizens Advice Bureau is:

  • intending to offer financial capability training for PSE coordinators and teachers  to support the delivery of personal finance education in the revised curriculum
  • considering appropriate ways of recognising/accrediting the learning
  • developing closer links with the local FE college through piloting personal finance education for learners on some vocational courses.

Related Links

The PSE framework provides the foundation for a broad, balanced holistic approach to PSE.