School banks and young people’s attitudes to money were centre stage this morning as Iona co-hosted the weekly Young Money Young Rights show on the newly-launched Share Radio.
Iona began by reminding train travellers that they can claim for delayed journeys, and commented on today’s news stories on the state of the housing market and the cost of private education.
Following up on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plans for an initiative in schools to get young people more clued up about finance, and prevent them resorting to payday lenders, the show went to Eastbury Comprehensive in Hampstead to sound out the views of teenage pupils. They talked about lessons on banking, budgeting, and the minimum wage.
Today’s guest was Geraldine Walton, education officer at MyBnk charity, which delivers money workshops to 11-25-year-olds and has worked with 100,000 young people in the past seven years.
MyBnk makes money lessons fun. “What we don’t do is go in and tell them how things are, we get them involved,we make it relevant to what they are doing right now in their lives,” Geraldine said.
Asked by Iona whether banks should be allowed to go into schools given the risk that they might market their own products, or whether this was part of what kids needed to know, Geraldine said: “There can be some issues around banks wanting young people to become their customers so I think it’s important they get independent advice.”
She said the programmes aim to “ encourage young people to become informed consumers”. The most popular is the bank’s Money Twist programme for 11-16-year-olds (three 100-minute sessions) but there is a university finance programme for sixth-formers too. There are also student-led banking schemes across London which train youngsters ‘how to be bankers and they share that information with the rest of the school’.
Asked by co-host Georgie Frost why it had taken so long to get money onto the school curriculum, compared with the likes of sex education, Geraldine said families “don’t have open conversations about money”, and it is an awkward topic among friends.
“But we are realising that years down the line there is huge consequences for not having enough knowledge to make sound financial decisions…what we do at MyBnk is preventitive.”
Geraldine admitted: “There is a lot of worry about debt.” Iona commented: “You saw this week, with the riots outside Parliament, just how many young people are exercised about the whole student loan issue, and it also coincided with that report from the Higher Education Council saying three-quarters of loans may never be paid back by students in the end, so people are very well aware this a flawed system and in the process they have become politically engaged with that whole topic, so it’s not surprising that the kids you are meeting are thinking about it because it’s bound to get through to them.”
Geraldine said a lot of the fear comes from “not understanding what they are getting into, getting mixed messages about debt and the future, and what it holds for them if they take out these loans.”
MyBnk aims to give them accurate information. It tests pupils’ knowledge at the beginning and the end of courses and monitors what it is doing thoroughly. @MyBnk
In the young rights/careers segment of the show, Iona looked at the importance of your voice in presenting yourself.
Employment minister Esther McVeigh had told young people it was important to ‘keep it real’ and not change your accent, Iona said. “I’ll be explaining how young people don’t have to change their accents to get on but I’ll be bringing some simple ways to harness the power of your voice.”
David and Victoria Beckham had both tried to make their voices posher over the last 10 years, Iona reported, though many celebrities had not. “I recommend that everyone listening stays true to their voice.”
Interviewed by Iona, media mentor and vocal tutor David Spencer said the key was to know how you sounded. “How we perceive ourselves is very different to how other people perceive us.”
People preparing for an interview probably failed to think about how they speak. In a presentation, you need warmth, confidence, connecting with the listener – just as in radio, David said – and with so much time spent on the smartphone there was a risk of “face to face skills” being neglected.
In a final discussion, Geraldine stressed the importance of communication in the classroom. “The worst thing you can do when you are working with young people is to pretend to be something you are not.”
Don’t miss next week’s show, Friday at 9.15!