Children under the care of Sutton are benefitting from access to high quality financial education to help them develop the necessary skills and understanding to support them financially in their future adult lives.
The need to for children in care to receive financial education was recently highlighted by Vicky Ford MP when she said, “Care leavers move into independence and become responsible for their own finances at a much younger age than their peers … and are at higher risk of financial vulnerability.”
With shocking statistics showing that around one third of care leavers become homeless within the first two years of leaving care (Stein, 2006), it is imperative that children in care are given the access to financial education from an early age. Sadly, where care leavers experience financial difficulty, it has also been shown to impact their ability to secure or remain in education or employment and experience good mental health and wellbeing.
Sutton Virtual School, one of Cognus’ 26 educational services, have taken pro-active steps in response to these findings to ensure that all children in Key Stages 2, 3, 4 and 5 have access to financial education support, with the introduction of MoneyReady, an online financial curriculum that allows the young people the opportunity to explore self-paced modular learning, covering everything from saving and investments, to pensions. Bianca Powell-Norris, Education Advisor at Sutton Virtual School who has overseen the introduction of this initiative says,
‘Introducing the MoneyReady course to our children and young people has encouraged them to develop their financial literacy in a fun, age-appropriate and engaging way, through videos, quizzes and games. The course can easily be accessed on electronic devices and the website also provides helpful guidance for parents, carers and teachers – promoting a united approach to financial literacy education. We were one of the first Virtual Schools to have incorporated the programme into our offer, and Helen the founder is very happy to have us onboard, as she understands the financial obstacles care leavers can encounter and how empowering financial knowledge can be for this group. I am hopeful that we can encourage more organisations who support care experienced children and young people, to incorporate financial literacy into their packages of support, as this is a crucial life skill for our young people to acquire as they transition into adulthood.’
Recommendations made in the recent study ‘Care to talk about money? The importance of financial education for children in care’ state that Personal Education Plans (PEP) for children in care should also include a clear target for individual financial capability development and that progress towards this should be monitored by Designated Teachers and Virtual School Heads. The study also draws focus to the need for foster carers to have access to training, tools and resources to support with the provision of effective money-related learning for all children in their care. Sutton Virtual School has taken steps to ensure that all PEP meetings for children in Key Stages 2 – 4 review the progress of their financial education development and have introduced a foster carer training requirement to support foster carers to become more confident in supporting a child to learn about finances in the home.
A foster carer for two children in Key Stages 2 and 3 says,
‘MoneyReady is really good. It is important to start teaching the young people early on about money before they have to start managing it when they turn 16. Sutton Virtual School seem to be leading the way on this initiative and other Virtual Schools should consider this approach, as it is so important.’
Sutton Virtual School are also providing support for Designated Teachers, who undertake the statutory responsibility to support the educational development of Children Looked After and Previously Looked After in school. Resources and mentoring support are available to help school staff understand the need for children in care to gain support with financial education from primary school age.
If you would like more information about the ways in which Sutton Virtual School offers educational support for children in care, please visit https://www.cognus.org.uk/services/suttonvirtualschool/ , subscribe to the Education Untapped podcast or follow @SuttonVS_CLA