The Stewart Ivory Financial Education Trust ('SIFET') is a charity which runs a programme of financial education which is principally aimed at senior pupils (mainly S6) in Scotland who are about to leave schools. The purpose is to prepare them to take control of their own finances in the short term, not only while they are in higher education (universities, colleges etc) or starting work, but to encourage them to think about how to manage their money effectively and to address financial issues for the longer term, including savings, mortgages and pensions.
SIFET was registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, otherwise known as a SCIO (SCO45517) in March, 2015.
Our financial education programme was set up in 2003 by The Stewart Ivory Foundation with the objective of developing a realistic, practical and cost effective approach to raising financial awareness in schools.
Until 2008 our work was funded entirely by The Stewart Ivory Foundation (until its planned termination that year). Since then, a number of other charitable trusts, firms and individuals have provided funding to continue this important and valuable work. Up to 2008, our project was administered by The Stewart Ivory Foundation, and then from 2008 until 2015, it was administered by Foundation Scotland (SC022910).
In 2016, the fund management company, Stewart Investors, committed to provide additional finance for SIFET and to underwrite SIFET’s annual budget, whilst still inviting donations and contributions from other parties to support SIFET’s activities. The management of Stewart Investors includes several individuals who were responsible for setting up The Stewart Ivory Foundation in 2001.
As a result, SIFET is able to plan for the future with more certainty and to invest in developing and reinforcing the educational messages, with managerial input to support its effectiveness. There is no intention of expanding the objectives and activities of SIFET, but instead our intention is to invest for more effectiveness in applying and supporting the educational messages.
SIFET remains, however, entirely independent of any commercial organization and Stewart Investors has confirmed that it does not intend to change this.
SIFET is one of a small number of providers of financial education to schools in Scotland and our work complements much of the work carried out by others, such as The Royal Bank of Scotland and The Financial Education Partnership. We are represented on The Scottish Financial Education Forum, under the auspices of Education Scotland.
There are, however, several key differences in our approach to this subject. We concentrate mainly on school leavers but, occasionally, when time and resources permit, we also address parents of senior pupils. The programme is delivered by external experts known as Financial Education Officers (FEOs) rather than by publishing and providing training materials to schools for teachers to use. These FEOs are paid honoraria for their services. We deliver financial education entirely at the request of schools.
In most cases, there is no charge to the school- either for our time or travel expenses.
Since inception, we have built up good relationships with a large proportion of secondary schools in Scotland, evidenced by the significant repeat business and helped by strong continuity in our team. Over the last ten years, our FEOs have delivered financial education to the vast majority of the secondary schools in Scotland (excluding special schools).
Currently we have 15 FEOs who, between them, cover all of mainland Scotland and various islands including Arran, Islay, Mull, the Orkneys, the Shetland Isles and the Western Isles. Each FEO is responsible for contacting all of the secondary schools in his/her region to offer this service. Typically, our FEOs provide sessions each group of senior pupils at each school.
In the last full academic session (2016/17), our FEOs visited over 243 schools and addressed almost 20,000 senior pupils, mainly S6, delivering 1,013 separate sessions (broadly equivalent to a class period in length of time). All of this was done on a very cost- effective basis of around £10 per student.
Our FEOs do not sell or recommend any product but offer independent, impartial and practical advice for students and young adults.
The need for financial education is as great as ever, given the high level of personal debt, especially amongst young people. Furthermore, the level of poverty in Scotland continues to be a very significant issue, with huge implications. In 2012, The Child Poverty Action Group’s Briefing “Poverty in Scotland” (published in 2012) reported that 220,000 children in Scotland still lived in poverty (21% of all children) and recent forecasts have indicated that between 50,000 and 100,000 more children in Scotland may be pushed into poverty by 2020. In this regard, SIFET is particularly important in helping to prevent or, at the very least to mitigate, some of the causes of poverty in the first place, through a number of positive actions, which are designed to raise financial awareness and increase financial literacy and capability.
SIFET’s work is highly relevant in addressing the causes of poverty, given that a significant proportion of young people:
Get into debt at an early age and find it very difficult to get out of debt;
Do not understand basic personal finance;
Do not appreciate the costs of living away from home and/ or while studying at university or college; and
Have to drop out of college and/or university and, as a result, fail to get an academic or other qualification, thereby limiting their employment prospects.
SIFET helps to raise awareness of young people at a critical stage by delivering a programme of financial education to a large proportion of school leavers in over 200 schools across Scotland every year. So, over the last twelve years, it is estimated that SIFET has addressed close to 200,000 school leavers.
For more details, please refer to SIFET’s Trustees Report for the 16 months ended 31 July, 2016 (its first report since becoming a registered charity) and the Interim Report for the six months ended 31 January, 2017.