Financial education for 16 and 17 year olds: pathfinder evaluation

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Evidence suggests that ‘just in time’ financial education can be particularly effective for young people before they embark into financial independence. However, in the UK, less than half of secondary school age children (42%) recall learning about managing money at school.

Understanding how to scale the delivery of effective financial education for young people

The Money and Pensions Service’s children and young people pathfinder programme funded five pathfinder projects between 2019 and 2021, to test approaches to delivering evidence-based financial education at scale.  

The aim of this pathfinder was to understand how to scale financial education interventions for 16 and 17 year olds, in mainstream and non-mainstream settings in England, improving their money knowledge, skills and behaviours and empowering them to approach their finances with confidence in the future.   

In 2020/21, amid the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic and associated school closures, the project was delivered to 2,608 young people by a partnership of MyBnk, Learn by Design, Royal Association for Deaf People, The Money Charity and Young Money, and evaluated independently by Trust Impact.   

How to use this evaluation

We hope the findings will be useful for any policymakers, funders, schools or delivery organisations who want to deliver or scale financial education in mainstream and non-mainstream settings to young people, including to those in more vulnerable circumstances. 

Key findings

Overall, the evaluation found positive changes to young people’s financial mindset and ability outcomes, at least in the short term. It highlights useful considerations for scaling financial education for this age group in a range of settings, with different groups of young people, including:  

  • Trainer-led interventions – where youth practitioners are given tools and training to deliver financial education – can deliver positive outcomes for young people in mainstream settings.  
  • To deliver the expert- and trainer-led models tested in this pathfinder at scale: 
    • Financial education programmes should be based on mandatory content reflecting financial capability evidence and young people’s needs, with flexible content responding to local contexts and young people’s interests. 
    • Delivery partner collaboration should include the development of a consistent financial education programme, the use of different partners to reach different groups of young people, a shared outreach approach to schools, and clear routes to sharing best practice across the partnership. 
    • Approaches and tools should support virtual delivery, helping providers reach more, and more diverse groups of, young people.  
  • The needs of young people in vulnerable circumstances could be addressed through interventions delivered at scale, by:  
    • Financial education providers working with schools to identify and test ways to narrow the financial capability gap between young people receiving free school meals and their peers.  
    • Creating financial education programmes for young people in non-mainstream settings that are based on multiple, longer sessions, in smaller groups – with specially designed core content.