On Tuesday 8th July the Education and Employers Taskforce and the Financial Times hosted a thought-provoking briefing by Andreas Schleicher, Deputy Director of the OECD Directorate for Education, on the OECD’s first international assessment of the financial literacy of 15 year old students.
John Riddings, Managing Director of the Financial Times Group, introduced Andreas who outlined key findings from the study. Drawing on data from the PISA tests, the study assesses the extent to which students in 18 different countries have acquired the knowledge and skills that are essential to make good financial decisions and plan aspects of their futures.
The Students and Money (Volume VI) report makes a strong case for the importance of financial literacy and provides insight into how financial literacy education is delivered and its comparative effectiveness in selected participating nations. One of the key insights to emerge is the importance of a strong conceptual grounding in mathematics to levels of financial literacy – at the briefing Andreas Schleicher critiqued the UK’s approach to mathematics teaching, which he characterised as ‘relatively shallow concepts embedded in complicated word problems’.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the OECD also find that real world experience of the financial world through realistic school-based enterprise activities and owning a bank account are also associated with higher levels of financial literacy amongst 15 year olds. This provides considerably food for thought for UK policymakers and practitioners as we think about our own approaches to helping young people to enter the adult world financially literate.