Wales politics

Gap in financial education, warns Bethan Jenkins AM

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Media captionWelsh ministers do not believe "more bureaucracy" is the answer

Some Welsh pupils are leaving school with virtually no financial education, a Plaid Cymru AM has said.

Bethan Jenkins said time devoted to the subject varied from 180 hours over three years to almost nothing.

She wants to see a law introduced to promote financial literacy, and a six-week consultation on her proposals begins on Monday.

Welsh ministers said they were "working hard" on the issue but did not believe "more bureaucracy" was the answer.

Ms Jenkins's Financial Education and Inclusion Bill aims to improve schools' financial education, give local authorities more power to stop unethical lending practices and help people manage their money.

She said learning about financial matters should become a "fundamental part of the learning experience, rather than just a bolted-on afterthought".

The AM asked Welsh secondary schools how much time they spent on financial education, and she received responses from more than 80 - a third of the secondary schools in Wales.

The responses revealed that the highest placed school overall had taught a total of 270 hours of financial education by the time pupils reached 16.

The lowest placed school had taught just six hours on the subject.

"The assembly has the powers to pass this bill and make a real change for the better for people in Wales," Ms Jenkins said.

'Working hard'

The Plaid AM's bill was put forward after being selected in a ballot of bills from assembly members last year, and backed by 38 votes in a debate in October.

In a statement, the Welsh government said it was "already doing a lot of good work in this area".

"Financial education for young people aged seven to 16 has been part of the school curriculum in Wales since 2008 - through mathematics, personal and social education, and careers and the world of work," stated an official.

"The new national literacy and numeracy framework, a statutory curriculum requirement from September 2013, also reinforces the importance of financial education by setting out the level of skills required to manage money for each year from Reception to Year 9.

"We're working hard with lots of stakeholders to improve financial literacy, but we don't believe a new bill and more bureaucracy is the answer."

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