School bank in Sittingbourne features in new Church of England proposals for a national network of savings clubs in primary schools

A proposal for a network of savings clubs in primary schools which could give pupils as young as four years old practical experience of money management is announced today by the Church of England as part of a drive to raise the level of children’s financial awareness.

The plans for school savings clubs marks the latest stage in the work of the Archbishop’s Task Group on Responsible Credit and Savings which has coincided its proposals with the launch of its new ToYourCredit website. The Task Group was formed at the start of this year following Archbishop Justin’s remarks in July 2013 about pay day lenders and the need to develop alternatives such as credit unions.

The website which includes personal testimonies, videos, and blogs from initiatives across the country inspired by the Archbishop of Canterbury, features Murston Junior School in Sittingbourne, Kent, which recently opened its own school bank, with support from Kent Savers Credit Union, Murston Community Bank at All Saints Church in Murston and the Diocese of Canterbury. The local school bank is highlighted as an example of the type of school savings club which the Church of England would like to see replicated elsewhere.

By providing practical experience of money management to complement financial education in class, the Church of England suggests that school savings clubs are a great way to improve children’s understanding of money.

At Murston Junior School, Year 6 students run the bank, supported by churchwardens from All Saints’ Church, Murston. The bank opens two days a week with pupils in years three, four, five and six given the option to open a savings account.

The Task Group is seeking funding from Government and other sources for a pilot scheme in three areas of England working with the Credit Union Foundation and the Personal Finance Education Group (pfeg).The regions currently under consideration are London, Yorkshire, East Midlands, North East and the South West. The programme would build on a number of successful small-scale initiatives, like those at Murston Junior School which are already in and are evidence of what makes for an effective financial education programme.

As is the case at Murston Junior School, the Church of England’s proposals suggest that children be given opportunities to take part in the running of the savings clubs, as junior cashiers or bank managers and that their practical learning should be reinforced by classroom teaching materials. These teaching resources would cover areas such as understanding the role money plays in our lives, how to manage money and managing risks and emotions associated with money.

The teaching pack would provide practical ideas for schools to promote values such as generosity including charitable giving and fundraising.

Welcoming the plans, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said:

“How we think about and use our money is central to a fulfilled and contented life.

“That is why I strongly support this exciting initiative to encourage children to develop positive attitudes towards money and the habit of saving.

“One in four primary and middle schools are Church of England schools, so this programme has the potential to make a significant difference to the lives of millions of children and future adults.”

Once evaluated, the proposed scheme would be extended to primary schools across the country starting with Church of England primary schools.

The scheme follows analysis and research by The Children’s Society, in a report released today, which argues that children need financial education from an early age as they face increasingly complex financial futures.

The report, Supporting young savers: the case for savings clubs in schools, says online shopping, phone contracts and tuition fees all require children and young people to start making financial choices at an early age.

Financial habits are formed by the age of seven years old, according to research highlighted in the report, with evidence showing that children engage with the financial services sector from a young age.

A survey last year showed that 64% of children get their first bank or building society account and 63% their first mobile phone before they start secondary school, the report said.

It adds that children have “high levels” of exposure to debt with research showing that more than half of children aged 10 to 17 years old said they have seen advertising for loans “often” or “all of the time.”

ENDS

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Jennifer Ross, Communities & Partnerships, Diocese of Canterbury on 07765 112 177 / jross@diocant.org or

Martha Linden, Church of England Press Office at  martha.linden@churchofengland.org

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