Money skills for students more important than ever due to COVID-19 - report

NCEA exams start this week but John Talaid isn’t stressed – he has almost all the credits he needs to gain Level 3 thanks partly to a course in financial education.

Kelston Boys High School Head of Commerce, Bryan Megson helps Year 13 student John Talaid and his classmates work through a Sorted in Schools resource.

The Year 13 student at Kelston Boys High School in Auckland plans to head to university with the aim of becoming a marine biologist, and thanks to a course provided by Sorted in Schools feels better prepared to cope with the long-term costs of tertiary education.

Talaid, 17, completed the course as part of a Financial Skills class. It focused on the financial responsibilities and consequences of tertiary study funding options, such as student loans, apprenticeships and working while studying.

“It was good to find out what we’re in for,” says Talaid. “The course was straightforward and useful – we learned about budgeting, how we can prepare for short and long term costs, and our responsibilities in paying back student loans.”

The course also gave Talaid and his classmates credits toward their NCEA qualification; it is aligned to unit standards and has NZQA accreditation.

Talaid’s teacher, Head of Commerce Bryan Megson, says the Sorted in Schools resources are useful in teaching students important life skills they may not receive at home.

“They present real life situations the students can relate to, and make financial education relevant – they love using Sorted’s budgeting tool, seeing how it changes depending on how they’re spending and saving.”

An independent evaluation of Sorted in Schools released this week backs up the students’ and teacher’s experience. The New Zealand Council for Educational Research determined that in the wake of COVID-19, “the need for a programme such as Sorted in Schools, [which] builds on the circumstances, strengths, needs and aspirations of every student, including Māori and Pacific, is greater than ever”.

The report found the programme was positively impacting students’ knowledge and attitudes about money, and, two years after its introduction, there were early signs it was promoting positive behaviour, with students thinking and talking more about money, and using what they had learned.

Teacher satisfaction with the programme was also high, with teachers reporting increased confidence in teaching financial capability and intending to continue to use Sorted in Schools. The programme is now being taught in 62% of secondary schools.

Head of Sorted in Schools at the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC), Nick Thomson, agreed with the report that the programme’s strong foundations had seen it continue to grow in use during a challenging year.

“The economic impact of COVID-19 means that building strong financial capability among young people, their families and whānau is essential to help people not only reach their life goals, but for New Zealand’s economic recovery,” says Thomson.

Talaid and his classmates are just glad they’ve been given a “heads up” on some of the things they need to think about in their financial future.

As Talaid says: “Money makes the world go round, so it’s better to understand it.”