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 2011 our work was funded mainly by The Stewart Ivory Foundation and with further support from a few other charitable trusts. Since 2011, and the winding up of The Stewart Ivory Foundation, a number of other charitable trusts, firms and individuals have provided funding to continue this valuable work beyond 2014.
We remain, however, entirely independent of any commercial organization.
SIFET was registered as a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation, otherwise known as a SCIO (SCO45517) in March, 2015. Previously, SIFET was administered by Foundation Scotland.
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, when time and resources permit, we also address school parents and first year university and college students. The programme is delivered by 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 an honorarium 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 schools, evidenced by the significant repeat business and helped by strong continuity in our team.
Currently we have 14 FEOs who, between them, cover all of mainland Scotland and the islands of Arran, Islay, the Orkneys, and the Western Isles. Each FEO is responsible for contacting all of the secondary schools in his/her region to offer this service. Typically, we can provide up to three talks a year for each group of students at each school.
In the current academic session (2014/15), we expect our FEOs to visit over 220 schools and spoke to around 15,000 students, mainly S6 students, with over 800 separate sessions. In the past, our FEOs have also delivered talks to students at universities and further education colleges. 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 financial education to some 15,000 senior students annually in over 200 schools across Scotland, mainly S6 students and other school leavers. So, over the last twelve years, it is estimated that SIFET has addressed over 150,000 students.
SIFET produces a progress report for our donors at the end of each academic session.
- Download the Progress Report for Donors - 2013-14