Scotland, United Kingdom

The Scottish Government commissioned in September 2009 an independent evaluation of financial education in primary and secondary schools21. The evaluation was commissioned by the Curriculum division, part of the Schools Directorate within the Scottish Government. Scotland was the first country in the United Kingdom to develop financial education initiatives beginning in 1999 with “Financial Education in Scottish Schools: A Statement of Position”.22 From 2008 onwards, financial education has been a cross-curricular activity that all schools have been required to address. However, the Government recognised that very little was known about the impacts of financial education and the effectiveness and outcomes for young people as a result of their engagement with financial education programmes in schools.


The evaluation design was based on two phases. The first phase involved identifying and collating available information and research on the range and penetration of financial education programmes across different Curriculum stages in primary and secondary schools. Existing research evidence about the effectiveness of different forms of financial education in Scotland was also reviewed.

The second phase of the evaluation investigated the perceptions of the effectiveness of financial education programmes and resources from teacher, head teacher and student perspectives. Evaluation methods used were online surveys, qualitative interviews in selected schools with teachers, head teachers and students and stakeholder interviews and consultation with relevant policy makers, providers and interested parties.

Evaluation findings

The evaluation showed that financial education programmes were being delivered by the large majority of respondent schools across a wide range of subject areas and student ages. However, while financial education is intended to be taught as a cross-curricular activity, it was being delivered largely through special activities rather than integrated into a range of lessons across the curriculum.

The evaluation identified a number of barriers to the inclusion of financial education in schools. These included the low status and priority accorded to financial education in secondary schools and the lack of co-ordination, communication and organisation across departments in secondary schools. Lack of teaching time and resources were identified as barriers as well as a lack of investment by schools in budget or staff time into teacher training in financial education.

Support from local authority staff and other stakeholder organisations and leadership and support from head teachers were identified as supporting factors for the inclusion of financial education. Teachers and students identified key aspects related to the effectiveness of financial education in schools. These were:

  • • interactivity;
  • • teaching resources and worksheets;
  • • examples such as stories and realistic examples that students can relate to;
  • • information on how to run events such as Money Week;
  • • real life examples that are relevant and practical;
  • • external support, help and advice.

The evaluation makes a number of recommendations about ways to strengthen the provision and effectiveness of financial education in Scottish schools. Best-practice examples and case studies of the effective delivery of financial education across primary and secondary schools will be developed based on the evaluation findings.

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