Moneywise reveals its Personal Finance Teachers of the Year 2019

18 June 2019
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Moneywise celebrates the best of personal finance education in Britain, rewarding hard-working teachers who make the difference and go the extra mile for their students

This year’s contest was sponsored by interactive investor (Moneywise’s parent company). Cash prizes were awarded for the teachers to use as they see fit in their schools:

 

  • Winners: £5,000 each
  • Runners-up: £2,500 each
  • Judges’ Award: £1,500 each
  • Commended teachers: £500 each

This year saw a record number of nominations for the awards. Submissions were whittled down by the Moneywise team to the final shortlists for judging.

This year’s judging panel included:

  • Alex Kovach, chief commercial officer, interactive investor
  • Rachel Lacey, special projects editor, Moneywise
  • Jeff Prestridge, personal finance editor of the Mail on Sunday and columnist for Moneywise
  • Rachel Rickard Straus, editor, Moneywise
  • Guy Rigden, chief executive, MyBnk
  • Bobby Seagull, TV personality, author, maths teacher and University Challenge finalist
  • Richard Wilson, chief executive officer, interactive investor
  • Russell Winnard, director of programmes and services, Young Enterprise & Young Money

 

The judging panel discuss the merits of the many excellent nominees for this year's awards

From the two shortlists of four primary and six secondary teachers, the judges awarded points based on:

  • Usefulness
  • Fun
  • Engagement
  • Interactivity
  • Bonus points

Guy Rigden explains his thought process for judging: “In particular, I looked for whether the content was relevant to the different age groups and how much it dealt with personal finance rather than more general economics or citizenship, which some entries emphasised.

“Bonus points were awarded for evidence of seeking out best practice, bringing in visitors or making visits that brought relevance and context, particularly impressive examples of materials and a whole school approach, and whether the teacher had a plan for the use of an award.”

After a tough session of judging where the merits of all the teachers were weighed up, two winners emerged. Here are some key comments from the judges as to what they liked from all the finalists.

Primary

Winner: Sian Bentley, deputy principal, Queensmead Primary Academy, Leicester

Sian was crowned winner in her category despite being in a very crowded field of brilliant teachers.

Bobby Seagull explains: “Despite being in a tough school environment, Sian has developed a way of embedding personal finance across the whole curriculum.

"Students learn about the difference between needing and wanting. The school also runs flagship events such as Enterprise Week and Careers Week, which help to put a spotlight on finance. I am particularly impressed by ‘Purple Pounds’.”

Sian’s Purple Pounds is an enterprise in her school where you can apply for jobs and get paid in ‘purple pounds’. These can then be spent in school on treats (such as a film and popcorn afternoon) as well as a range of goodies from shops such as Paper Tiger and others.

Rachel Lacey was also very impressed: “I loved Purple Pounds, and encouraging Year-6 students to get jobs within the school – applying for roles, understanding that better pay is the result of harder work and more responsibility, and so on.

"I wish my kids were getting these opportunities in their school!”

 

Awards host Konnie Huq (left) and judge and interactive investor chief executive Richard Wilson (centre) present winning teacher Sian Bentley (right) with a cheque for £5,000

Runner-up: Joanne Throssell, deputy headteacher, Ranskill Primary School, Retford

Joanne was highly praised for her work. Of particular note was a foreign currency task, which introduced the concept of money from different parts of the world, exchange rates and how to manage money for travel.

Rachel Rickard Straus says: “I loved the currency tasks, bringing something that kids will have come across already in real life, and looking at it in more depth. Class charters covering their use of resources also really brought to life budgeting and the fact that resources are finite.” 

Bobby Seagull adds: “It is good that Joanne is taking a lead in making her school a Young Money Centre of Excellence. She thinks a lot about how to break the cycle of poor personal finance in her area.”

Runner-up: Hayley Whitaker, KS1 class teacher, Arkholme Church of England Primary School, Arkholme

Jeff Prestridge was impressed by Hayley’s focus on the ‘core’ subjects of personal finance.

“I liked Hayley’s simple approach and emphasis on core needs, and the fact that we’re living in an age that is increasingly cashless, and I liked her engagement with the usage of coins,” he says.

Bobby Seagull says: “Although her headteacher won last year, meaning that she understands the selection process, the simple practicality of the game enables her Year-1 and Year -2 students to understand money in a way that relates to real life.

"It is small-scale, but I get the sense that students would really enjoy this innovative project.”

 

Primary school category runners-up Joanne Throssell (right) and Hayley Whitaker (centre) receive certificates from Konnie Huq

Judges’ Award: Tom Raffield, mathematics teacher, St David’s School, Purley

Tom’s entry was marked out for a Judges’ Award owing to his attention to investment and economic education, and his ability to cover sophisticated topics, even at a primary level.

Mr Prestridge comments: “I was really impressed with Tom’s attention to detail.”

Alex Kovach adds: “Tom was my favourite, because his lessons were so engaging, and fun.

"I had to check myself that this was primary and not secondary, it was so sophisticated.”

Secondary

Winner: Helen Westwood, teacher of financial studies, Caroline Chisholm School, Northampton

The winner in the secondary category, Helen Westwood, received particular praise from the judges for her honesty and enthusiasm.

Rachel Lacey says: “For the secondary category, Helen Westwood is the stand-out winner – she clearly loves her job and is prepared to go great lengths to get her students to not only understand personal finance and learn valuable life skills but to enjoy the classes too.

“I love how open she is about her own finances, showing students her payslip and sharing her wedding budget spreadsheet.”

Mr Prestridge wholeheartedly agrees: “Helen’s entry was quite brilliant. I just loved her enthusiasm. It was refreshingly honest too.”

 

Secondary school winner Helen Westwood receives a cheque for £5,000 to benefit Caroline Chisholm School

Runner-up: Christine Holt, teacher of financial education, Stowmarket High School, Stowmarket

Christine’s entry was praised for her use of scenarios that pupils would find relatable and engaging.

Mr Ridgen says: “Christine has shown great teaching progression through age groups. I loved the party planner activity. Lots of interaction, very relevant to her pupils.” 

Mr Kovach agrees: “I loved Christine’s party planning exercise. It dealt with several areas of personal finance and showed in a fantastically succinct way how various financial themes mesh together in a practical way. And what better exercise to get kids excited about personal finance than planning a party?”

Runner-up: Agnelo Mendonça, business teacher, Loxford School, London

Agnelo Mendonça’s entry received praise from the judges for the variety of topics that encourage pupils to think about personal finance.

Mr Seagull explains: “In a challenging school environment, Agnelo has created a programme that really encourages his Year 12 and 13 students to think about personal finance. His activities go through the whole life cycle. He has a very clear plan of what he would do with the winnings. He goes beyond the syllabus and exams.”

Mr Kovach liked the content of his courses too: “Agnelo’s mortgage application task was fantastic because it set the pupils in a roleplay, instead of just laying out facts. It was both practical and engaging for what can be a highly complex financial product.”

 

Secondary school runners-up Christine Holt (centre) and Agnelo Mendonça (right) both received £2,500 for their schools

Judges’ Award: Russell Wareing, head of business and economics, Lancaster Royal Grammar School, Lancaster

Like Tom, Russell was awarded a judges’ prize for his exceptional attention to investing education.

Mr Wilson explains his reasons behind this award: “I was so excited to see that teachers like Russell are really tackling important subjects like investments with young people.

"He is clear and concise on the important stuff and explains in brilliant detail the importance of investor concepts such as growth, balanced and income investing. He has also managed to organise trips and speakers from a range of financial firms that shows real dedication to the craft of teaching about investing.”

Mr Seagull agrees: “Russell has done very well to enhance the profile of finance. He has taken part in enriching projects that allowed his students to travel domestically and abroad.”

 

Russell Wareing received a Judges' Award and £1,500 for his school, Lancaster Royal Grammer

Commended: Nicola Butler, teacher of mathematics, finance and Welsh baccalaureate, Ysgol Eirias (Eirias High School), Colwyn Bay

Mr Prestridge says of Nicola: “I liked the way in which she was prepared to go out and take her classes to the local bank. It’s very important for kids to see the financial world in action.

“I loved the ‘good vs bad’ focus on debt. I was really impressed with her.”

Mr Seagull agrees: “She shares her personal experience to make her projects grounded and is willing to really take her students on trips that show finance in action. She has engaged many students across different year groups.”

Commended: Jennifer Whelan, St James Catholic High School, London

Ms Rickard Straus says: “I was really impressed by Jennifer’s proactive organisation of trips to the Bank of England for her pupils and how this helped convey esoteric topics such as quantitative easing and inflation.”

Mr Wilson adds: “I thought Jennifer’s teaching task using England flags was great. Not only did it convey the relevance of supply and demand concepts in a relatable way, it was a novel and engaging use of a popular topic for young people: sport.

“This concept was then applied to the inner workings of the stock market, something which would otherwise be quite abstract for teenagers.”

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