Byline: Jeff Prestridge
AT 16, Georgia Miller already knows she wants to be a primary school teacher and to help her fulfil her ambition she is in the first year of a twoyear course at Norwich City College, studying for a diploma in child care, learning and development.
But last Tuesday, Georgia's studies and those of her classmates were inter-rupted by a session hosted by insurance giant Aviva, a local employer. For an hour, volunteers from Aviva talked about the world of money to Georgia and her colleagues. And judging by the heated debate among the 20 or so female students, everyone had an opinion.
'It was all very interesting,' was Georgia's verdict afterwards. 'It got me thinking about the dodgy state of the economy, why taxes are rising and why my mum and dad are always talking about how difficult things are right now.' The session, the last in five that Georgia has attended, is part of Aviva's Paying For It programme, a project aimed at increasing the economic awareness of students. Over the past year similar sessions have been run in more than 20 schools and colleges across the country - essentially in towns or cities where Aviva is a big employer, such as Norwich, York and Perth.
Andy Rowlandson, community affairs manager at Aviva who is in charge of the programme, says: 'The idea is to improve young people's ability to understand and then engage with economic decisions being made by politicians.
'We want to encourage informed participation in relevant economic debates. We want young adults like Georgia to grasp the challenges of budgeting and the consequences of making decisions to spend, save or cut at a national level.
'Then, hopefully, they will apply similar analysis when looking at their own personal finance issues.' Aviva is not alone in liaising with local schools and colleges to provide financial or personal finance educational material. Barclays, NatWest, Nationwide, Engage Mutual, the Co-operative and Ipswich Building Society have all been active in getting school students interested in money matters.
But attempts to get personal finance embedded into the national school curriculum have got nowhere. Personal finance is swept up within 'personal social health and economic' education, but it isn't compulsory.
Since 2000, the Personal Finance Educational Group (PFEG) charity has done sterling work in providing teachers with the tools and skills necessary to teach money matters - Aviva's Paying For It programme is accredited by the charity.
Initiatives by PFEG, such as What Money Means and Learning Money Matters, have been widely FUN: Chloe embraced by primary and secondary schools. …