Friday Five: financial literacy, early childhood provision, primary school exclusions, apprenticeships, employability


19th April 2024

1. SMF make the case for universal financial education

A new report by the Social Market Foundation (SMF) explores how financial education can be delivered more effectively. There is, the report’s authors argue, an acute need for better financial education in the UK: Britain has one of the lowest rates of financial literacy compared to similarly advanced economies, and just 1% of primary school teachers believe their pupils possess adequate financial understanding. The report calls for increased integration of financial education into the English primary school curriculum, the setting of financial literacy as a priority area for schools by Ofsted and the Department for Education, the creation of a ‘central hub’ of accredited teacher training programmes on financial literacy, and the inclusion of financial literacy education on all Initial Teacher Training programmes.

At CfEY, we have long been making the case that children’s careers education should begin as soon as they start school. Our 2019 report with Founders4Schools looked at what needs to be done to make careers education age-appropriate and effective within the primary school curriculum. 

The SMF’s full report and recommendations are here; our work with Founders4Schools is here.

2. Fawcett Society calls for changes to the Early Childhood Education and Care system

The second in a series of reports by the Fawcett Society on Early Childhood and Education and Care (ECEC) systems in five countries from across Europe and North America has been published. The report, which uses learnings from ECEC system reform in Australia, Canada, Estonia, France, and Ireland to make a series of recommendations to shape improvements in England, calls for:

  • A new cross-governmental strategy which centres children’s lived experiences
  • Increased early years funding to improve service offerings in ‘unprofitable’ areas
  • Workforce strategy regulation reforms
  • Expanding the ‘free hours’ offer for all children, and an increase in subsidies for the most disadvantaged as a supplement to the universal offer.

The full report is here.

3. New Chance UK research reveals the long-term impact of primary school exclusions

New research by Chance UK with the FFT Education Datalab into the long-term negative impact of primary school exclusions and suspensions on pupil’s future wellbeing and attainment makes for startling reading. The research revealed that over 90% of children excluded at primary school don’t pass GCSE English and maths, and that by year 10, 64% of excluded children are persistently absent. Findings impact certain groups of children more than others, the resource found: 67% of pupils with a primary school exclusion or expulsion had been on free school meals and 93% had a special educational need or disability (SEND). To tackle this problem, Chance UK call for greater investment in early interventions, statutory training on best practice for teachers, and more focus on individual support plans for excluded or suspended pupils.

If you’re looking for more analysis on primary school exclusions, our Head of Policy Baz Ramiah spoke to Nihal Arthanayake on BBC 5Live this week, where he made the case that funding and resourcing challenges for schools make permanent exclusion more likely.

The Chance UK report is here; Baz’s appearance on 5Live is here.

4. Government releases updated data on apprenticeships 

The latest data release on apprenticeships in England offers an update on the state of apprenticeship take up over the period August 2023 – January 2024. Headlines are that while participation has fallen by 2.4% to 621,750 compared with 2022/23, starts are up 2.5% to 200,550 in comparison to 195,000 for the same period last year. Higher apprenticeship starts have increased by a greater extent: 9.1% to 70,780 compared to 64,890 in the equivalent period of 2022/23. Advanced apprenticeships now account for 43.3% of starts, while higher apprenticeships represent 35.3%.

Although this growth in apprenticeship take-up is welcome, it needs to be acknowledged that apprenticeships do not represent the only route to gaining technical skills. Our work with Policy Connect called for Higher Technical Qualifications (HTQs) to be recognised as an important work-based, rather than vocational, route to gaining key technical skills.

The Government’s statistics release is here, our work on HTQs is here.

5. EPI roundtable looks at how best to support young people to prepare for the ‘world of work’

A roundtable discussion chaired by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) and the Commercial Education Trust (CET) held this month looked at how commercial education can improve young people’s skills, prepare them for the workforce, and enable them to establish ‘fulfilling’ careers. The roundtable brought together politicians, school leaders, employers, and politicians, and covered topics including disparities in access to work experience and careers guidance, PSHE, financial education, and experiential learning, and systems of accountability.

Back in 2022, CfEY worked with the EPI and TASO to look at solutions to tackle equality gaps in employment and employability, and what the sector needs to do to improve its approach to careers and employability provision.

A summary of the roundtable discussion is here; our work on employability with TASO and the EPI is here.

That’s all for this week! If you found this blog useful, please be sure to share/tweet it and follow @theCfEY, @Barristotle, and @conorcarleton for future editions.