Activities & Feedback
Our Programme of financial education usually consists of two modules covering:
- Debt - the need to understand its implications and manage debt effectively; and
- Personal budgeting and sources of student finance.
In most cases, there is no cost to the school. But if schools ask for more than six sessions in any year, SIFET may ask for a financial contribution towards the cost of the extra sessions.
In all cases, the schools lay down the parameters, and the FEOs adapt the modules to fit their requirements. Wherever possible, we try to ensure that the numbers involved in each session are, on the one hand, sufficient to justify the FEO’s time and commitment, but, on the other hand, not too large to inhibit useful discussion.
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” 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 university and/or college 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 over 15,000 senior pupils annually in over 200 schools across Scotland, mainly S6 students and other school leavers. So, since its inception in 2003, it is estimated that our FEOs have addressed around 200,000 school leavers. In addition, if time and funding resources permit, occasionally our FEOs will deliver financial education talks to parents of senior pupils.
Coverage, including schools in outlying areas
From the outset, we focused our programme on S6 pupils and others leaving school in the near future because this is where schools saw the most pressing need for greater financial awareness. The modules are particularly relevant to these pupils, who will soon have to cope with the possibility of debt and budgeting issues in higher education, and similar issues when they commence work.
In the last full academic session (2016/17) our FEOs visited 243 secondary schools in Scotland, delivering 1013 sessions (equivalent to a typical class period) and addressed almost 20,000 senior pupils. Of these, almost a quarter of the schools are located in more outlying areas.
Delivery - How is it done? Who does it?
Each FEO is assigned a different geographical area to cover. The visits are set up between the FEO and the relevant schools; each visit may involve one or more FEO, depending on the size of the school. We have no employees and each FEO is remunerated through the payment of honoraria and travel expenses.
Based on our practical experience, we use external speakers (ie the FEOs) to get our messages across, rather than providing schools with the teaching materials for staff use. We believe that, with exam-driven pressures on teachers, much good but non-examinable material is often left unused by classroom teachers.
Currently there are 15 FEOs who come from a mixture of backgrounds, but are mainly from a teaching or a financial discipline. What unites all the FEOs is a strong belief in the benefits of financial education, a great enthusiasm for SIFET's objectives, and a highly practical approach. In the case of the Orkneys and the Shetland Isles, our FEOs work with locally-based accountancy firms.
SIFET has concentrated its expenditure on delivering financial education in schools. Historically, up to between 85% and 90% of total expenses related to the Project’s work in schools and no more than 15% incurred in overheads and admin expenses. Currently, with more funding support available to SIFET, the Trustees are looking to invest more time and effort in enhancing the educational content of the programme and in reinforcing the FEOs work both within schools and by developing SIFET’s website. As a result,it is expected that with the investment in the Project in the next two years to enhance its impact and effectiveness, the level of overhead expenses will increase.
Content of the presentations
The FEOs use presentation materials which have been developed in-house but may have been adapted to reflect the practical experience of the individual FEO and/or the requirements of the audience.
We review and adapt FEOs presentations the modules at our twice yearly team meetings to reflect best practice, topical issues and significant developments. Furthermore, we use these regular meetings to ensure comprehensive in-house continuing professional development. In addition, we monitor the effectiveness of our delivery, with regular and detailed feedback from students and schools on our materials, to ensure quality control. A copy of a typical presentation module is available - if required.
This system of delivery of our financial education programme has been tried and tested over the last 14 years. It has been evaluated and has proved successful based on the feedback from schools.
Feedback from schools in recent years frequently included comments on the following lines:
“Excellent, very informative and provided good practical advice. Pupils had a reality check working out budgets for university life.”
Airdrie Academy, North Lanarkshire
“The presentation was very well received by pupils and feedback was positive. A very valuable lesson that we are keen to continue with.”
Boclair Academy, Bearsden
“The three sessions were well presented and were relevant to the target audience... The session which made most impact was the one on savings, as it clearly brought out the importance and benefits of starting to save early.”
Brae High School, Shetlands
“Excellent- delivery pitched at appropriate level. Good mix of theory and practical activities to involve pupils.”
Braidhurst High School, North Lanarkshire
“Excellent presentation- pupils enjoyed all talks and spoke about them afterwards; also enjoyed people out with school giving them information; excellent life skills, especially CREDIT, good current, up to date information – appreciated by pupils and staff!”
Blairgowrie High School, Perthshire
“Pupils are now more aware of the financial costs of going to uni / living away from home. Good information given on lending options and how to avoid debt.”
Broxburn Academy, West Lothian
“The content of the presentation was excellent, very relevant and up to date. The style of the presentation meant that pupils had an active role throughout… we hope that these presentations will continue to run in future years.”
Bridge of Don Academy, Aberdeen
“The school appreciates SIFET’s input to the S6 Careers Programme and staff are grateful that he annually makes the journey to Campbeltown.”
Campeltown Grammar, Argyll & Bute
“The presentations were informative, practical and would most certainly help benefit the senior pupils… The Stewart Ivory programme is most certainly one we hope to retain as a permanent feature in our school calendar.”
Coatbridge High School, North Lanarkshire
“Fantastic. Very well presented and delivered and very clear messages… Excellent discussion and group work activity... Pupils engaged well and took a real interest.”
Currie High School
“This is an area where students require information and support. Good response from the students who were engaged for the whole session”
Drumchapel High School, Glasgow
“Good practical advice and tasks. Presenter had a realistic understanding of pupils’ attitudes to money and dealt with them skilfully… Practical exercise was excellent, pupils were engaged and found it fun.”
Duncanrig Academy, South Lanarkshire
“The pupils have said that that they thought the presentations were extremely worthwhile and made them think about financial issues which had not occurred to them previously. In their general PSE evaluation, they said that your presentation was definitely something to keep in the programme for future S6 pupils.”
Dyce Academy, Aberdeen
“Very good, clear and concise, accurate and relevant. Very appropriate- delivered with excellent tone and sense of humour.”
Galashiels Academy, Scottish Borders.
“Very informative. Not something which is discussed enough at school. It gave pupils a very realistic insight and goals to set for their future.”
Grange Academy, Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire
“The presentation was very effective. The approach was good, insightful and held the interest and attention of the pupils. The topics and issues were relevant, particularly with regard to credit cards, getting into debt and how to budget.”
Grove Academy, Dundee
“Very informative, well-delivered, works very well with good engagement by pupils.”
Inverkeithing High School, Fife
“Excellent, hit the right level with the pupils. Very relevant to the stage they are at.”
Jedburgh, Scottish Borders
“Very well received by all pupils – informative, enjoyable and very valuable. Please come back next year.”
Keith Grammar School, Morayshire
"I didn't realise my mum had to pay out so much money - the finance lady made me realise what she has to do for us!"
Kirkcaldy High School, Fife
“Very good presentation. Stuart talked at a level that could be understood easily by the students. He also brought in a bit of humour to the talk. It was a very informative talk about finance and certainly gave the students something to think about.”
Kircudbright Academy, Dumfries & Galloway
“Brilliant-pupils were all engaged and interested. They contributed well and asked good questions. Their verdict- LEGEND.”
Kilchuimen Academy, Fort Augustus
“Absolutely first class. Good interaction and pace. Pitched at right level.”
Kincorth Academy, Aberdeen
“Excellent presentation- all students engaged and involved. Very worthwhile topic which is aimed at this particular year group who are preparing for college/ university.”
Knightswood Secondary, Glasgow
“Louise and her team have presented in Knightswood for a number of years. I have particularly observed a number of these classes. The presentations are amongst the best that our students receive and are very much appreciated by students and staff alike.”
Knightswood Secondary, Glasgow
“As usual, a first class talk using humour and relevant information to talk frankly about Credit.”
Lochgilphead High School, Argyll & Bute
“Your SIF lectures are brilliant. The students engage in your fun approach with a serious message… The word of mouth feedback the students give me and their year -mates is great.”
Mearns Academy, Aberdeenshire
“It’s very well done, at the right level for our pupils and very engaging. Sue is great! She talks to the pupils at their level and they really enjoyed/ learnt from this.”
Meldrum Academy, Aberdeenshire
“Content is good and is crucial information for our students.”
Notre Dame High School, Greenock
“Very useful and well received by pupils… they are now much more aware of all the things they need to think about (and plan for) next year.”
Plockton High School
“Very relevant information- thought the practical exercises were very good and useful.”
Penicuik High School, Midlothian
“Excellent and very topical and up to date; pupils gain a lot of information.”
Port Glasgow High School, Inverclyde
“Very informative and well explained with excellent hand outs. Pupils engaged throughout. One of the most important presentations senior pupils will receive.”
Prestwick Academy, South Ayrshire
“Very informative. Challenges pupils to think about their finances for the future.”
Rothesay Academy, Bute
“Very informative and practical advice for students.”
Selkirk High School, Borders
“Excellent, very relevant, hard hitting and fact finding. An invaluable resource for all young pupils at this stage of their life.”
St. Andrews, Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire
“Elizabeth delivers high quality, informative, relevant and engaging talks to our S6 pupils who found her to be knowledgeable and approachable and she demonstrates an awareness of their age group’s financial issues. I believe that pupils learn a lot of important financial skills which they will use beyond school.”
St. Andrew’s High School, Kirkcaldy, Fife
“Very valuable asset to our programme. Clear content, pertinent to our students and well delivered.”
St. Josephs College, Dumfries & Galloway
“Very informative, well paced and pitched at level appropriate to age and stage of pupils. Good use of real life scenarios to allow pupils to relate to the issues of debt and money management.”
St. Luke’s High School, Barrhead, East Renfrewshire
“An extremely useful and informative presentation for our senior students, especially in today’s financially straitened times ! ”
Stonelaw High School, South Lanarkshire
“Thorough, detailed and current information, delivered in an engaging way. This programme adds value to our PST programme… we are delighted with Stewart Ivory’s support.”
Stromness Academy, Orkneys
“Excellent, informative and relevant. Pupils gained a deep understanding of financial issues. Very valuable, particularly at this stage in pupil/ student development.”
Trinity High School, Renfrewshire
“The presentation gave all of the students “food for thought”. It was clear that few of them had any idea about budgeting or even the costs involved in supporting themselves. Very worthwhile.”
Ullapool High School, Wester Ross
“Excellent professional presentation. We have worked with SIFET for many years.”
Websters High School, Kirriemuir, Angus
“Very student –centred and well received by the Group.”
West Calder High School, West Lothian
“It is clear that Drew’s presentation captured the pupils’ imagination and really got them thinking. I very much hope that we will be working again with Drew.”
Western Isles (Nicolson Institute, Stornoway, and Sgoil Lionacleit, Benbecula)