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Never too young to learn financial literacy

Imagine four glass jars with the labels: grow, save, spend, share. Money: what can we do with it and what exactly does it mean to be financially literate for the next generation? If financial literacy is ‘something new’ that needs to be embedded across the whole curriculum, then what could it look like in teaching and learning? 

Four glasses

The following two stories have come about as a result of the Financial Capabilities Education PLD support in 2015. Two schools from two cities came together online (Skype and Google docs) to share experiences, challenges and top tips for different ways of applying new financial capability knowledge. 


Hautapu moneyTeachers may have preconceived ideas and values when it comes to  talking about money. There may be unrest, worry even, about what can and can’t be talked about in different cultural contexts. Beyond the ‘taboo’ is a relatively new term, ‘financial capability' or 'financial literacy’. As facilitator Janine Mackay explains, “Financial literacy is something that needs to be talked about daily in all learning areas. It’s about real world stuff. It’s not just about money and the physical side of money, or the mental and emotional side of understanding money; there’s way more to it than that. There’s a lot of decision-making for now and the future. What does growing money mean? What does that mean for my spending now? Financial literacy introduces concepts and conversations around consumption, sustainability, waste and more."

In 2009, the government identified some key issues for financial understanding and capability. In response to global and local trends, including influences from the Commission for Financial Capability, the Financial capability progressions were created. In 2014, the Ministry of Education started an initiative to meet the greater needs in schools from yr 0-13. As part of the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) contract, workshops and follow-up support have been provided nationally to:

  • Talk about the general issues and why teaching financial capability is important
  • Share NZC Financial Capability online resources
  • Discuss the integration of Financial Capability into school curriculum and classroom programmes
  • Share ideas about engaging whānau and the school community with Financial Capability
  • Explore the relationship between Financial Capability, the key competencies and the vision of NZC

In the sound recording on the left, Dallas Graham shares an example of how facilitators help teachers and school leaders to understand ways they can embed Financial Capabilities in their school-based curriculum.

The market

Hautapu School sits 15kms south of Hamilton. Two teachers from the school responded to marketing promotions about Financial Capabilities Education PLD and attended the (1/2 or full day) workshops where resources from TKI, VLN and Young Enterprise Trust were shared. Additional support was provided to help teachers plan for experiential, contextualised ways to integrate financial literacy into their current learning programmes.

In a student inquiry model, teachers helped to tease out prior knowledge from the students, and conversations ensued in the classroom where the teachers and students brainstormed entrepreneurial goals. Students went on to create products for a market, with the aim of raising funds to support school camp fees. Throughout the process, the students were in contact with pupils at Glenholme Primary school in Auckland, to find out how they undertook their entrepreneurial process. Janine elaborates on this process further, including parent and whānau engagement in the recording on the left (1.48secs). Parents and whānau were invited to Market Day and encouraged to spend their money on the many products and services available. For more, scroll through the PDF file below.

This enterprise has engaged all students, all with very different strengths. It has enabled inventors, creators, thinkers, designers, talkers, tech-savvy people and non tech savvy, mathematicians, marketers, scientists to have fun and produce something that was based on their personal (or combined) strengths.

Hautapu 2 Market day strawberries

The Dragon’s Den

At Glenbrook School, South Auckland there is a strong focus on a graduate profile (knowledge, attitudes, skills, values) and Careers Education is a huge part of their culture of learning. They have been part of the NZC PLD programme, where Financial Literacy has become an authentic part of the curriculum and enterprise has become the norm.

Glenbrook story Dragon's den 2 Dragon's den 1


Glenholme productsIn this video on the right, Glenbrook teacher Heather talks about how the idea for product design, creation, marketing and distribution came about, where the students researched, created and refined products to sell at Calf Club Day. After the initial events for Calf Club day were viewed (9.30-11am), community members were invited to view and purchase products in the classrooms. The range of products was of extremely high quality. For example; logs sliced into perfect circles covered with blackboard paint, where the local florist shop used the sign to advertise their opening hours, Easter Island heads with concrete composite material to show natural weathering, soy candles, natural oils, foaming bath bombs - beautifully crafted in the shape of cup cakes with moisturising 'icing' on top with a slogan that reads, 'Flawless scrubbin when your skin needs some lovin', packaged beautifully in simple brown boxes.  

Impact for students

Glenbrook survey

As Dallas says, "One of the principles of the New Zealand Curriculum is future-focused and one of the sub-topics is entrepreneurship and enterprise which opens students' eyes to future possibilities." Learning this way has offered opportunities for students to begin managing money. This has flowed through to opportunities for parents to be involved in helping to manage finances as well. In the sound recording on the left, Dallas explains the Financial skills and knowledge developed as a result of this learning. In the three videos below, students from Glenbrook School reflect on their learning.

In both cases, students were exposed to authentic learning experiences with a focus on design, creation, costing and budgeting processes. In the marketing concept, they were able to learn about money, physically touch the money and make real-life connections to growing, saving, spending and sharing money – for now and the future. In the video below (13.10sec), students talk extensively about the process, outcomes and new learning. 

Impact for teachers

Teachers have demonstrated shifts in thinking and classroom practice - in terms of integrating financial literacy into the curriculum. They are now keen to provide authentic learning opportunities, where students can make choices and decisions around money, that can be applied in other, 'real' contexts of their lives. In this video (4.46sec) teacher Heather (Glenbrook School) talks about the process and outcomes for students as they plan, make and create products to sell. 

An example of the extensive planning, can be viewed below.


In the following videos, teachers at Hautapu talk about the process students have undertaken to design and develop products for sale at the Market Day, and talk about the value of embedding financial literacy across the curriculum.

In both cases, the parents were thoroughly supportive of the process. They could see the engagement and motivation for authentic learning and saw the value in helping them own their learning pathways.

On reflection

While the teachers used valuable resources like PrEPPick up and Go series and other support material from the Young Enterprise Trust website, they also recognised there could be more resources available in maths to help support learning around ‘doing finances’, such as managing debt, borrowing and investing long-term. Both schools are committed to continuing to offer authentic learning opportunities, where students can learn more about spending, growing and saving money. Students and teachers at Hautapu school have some new learning to consider for the future, while Glenbrook School hopes to continue a focus on entrepreneurship with an emphasis on services rather than products. The following year the focus will return to product creation.

For more on Financial Literacy in schools, visit Financial education in schools.