'What teacher would not be proud of students developing the skills they need for the future'

14 June 2018

Dane Court Grammar School teacher, Ceri Diffley, winner of Moneywise’s Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Competition 2018 for the secondary school category, explains why it’s so important for children to learn about financial education.  

One Saturday in November 2017, I was cleaning my kitchen, listening to Money Box Live on BBC Radio 4 when it said it was going to run a Christmas Special asking: “Why, if finance is so important to all our lives, and so many young people are now in debt, is it not taught in schools?”. I thought to myself, “we teach it at Dane Court Grammar School”!

In the sixth form (ages 16 to 18), we teach both the London Institute of Banking and Finance (LIBF) Certificate and the Diploma in Financial Studies. Also, as part of the Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Business, we teach a business and personal finance unit. Finance Awareness is also an integral part of the Dane Court Grammar School's innovative 'International Citizenship Enrichment' (ICE) programme throughout the school. Students learn about finance from year 7 (age 11) as part of the ICE Business of Enterprise unit and in year 10 (ages 15 to 16) as part of the Financial Awareness course, which teaches students life skills in effective money management and debt avoidance.

So I phoned into the radio show to tell them of all the good work we do and invited them to come and see for themselves. Imagine my surprise when they took me up on my offer and invited Dane Court to feature on the show.

Then, in April 2018, the people from Radio 4’s Money Box sent me an email to say that Moneywise was looking for nominations for its Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards 2018. I happened to open it during a finance lesson and told the students about it, and they asked me to forward the email to the class. Unbeknown to me, two of my students, Darcie Teal and Sam Pratt, took it upon themselves to send in nominations, and it went from there.

Having been nominated, I was asked to complete an application form about how we teach finance at Dane Court Grammar School and in June 2018, I was told we had been shortlisted for the prize and invited to attend the Moneywise Customer Service Awards 2018 event in central London on Thursday 7 June. I nearly didn't go, after all, it was a school night! But my colleague Mrs Linton - head of the International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme (IBCP), who has a background in business before teaching - said she'd come too, and I am so glad we went. 

It is a privilege to work for such a forward-thinking, innovative school that gives us the autonomy to develop the curriculum in this way. Working closely with Mrs Linton, we have both developed what I believe is a fantastic offering; both educating students to achieve their potential in academic qualifications, as well as helping prepare them for the world of work. These are real-life skills they are developing.

Indeed, the two students who travelled to London to represented Dane Court on Money Box Live are moving forward with their career plans. Charlie Summers has secured a higher-level apprenticeship with Kreston Reeves Chartered Accountants and Financial Advisors and Kiera Lennon has been invited for interviews with Barclays, Hiscox, and Microsoft.

Similarly, we took another student, Connor Griffiths, and the rest of his class to London’s financial district, Canary Wharf. Sitting in a boardroom with panoramic views of the modern-day UK financial industry, Connor said to me “I'll be back”. True to his word, Connor is now completing a Business Management Degree at Royal Holloway University with an internship at a wealth management company.

Other finance-related trips for students have included visits to Belgium to see the European Parliament in action, to the Bank of England museum, and a guided tour of the original City of London to see the coffee houses where the financial industry began. This is in addition to speakers visiting the school from companies such as Grant Thornton, HSBC, and Pfizer, while all our IBCP students are embarking on three-month internships of one day a week in industry so they can experience the world of work first hand.

What teacher would not be proud of these students pushing their boundaries and developing the skills they need for the future in this way?