Set up an Accounting Club in your local school
Posted by Toby York. Last updated: March 14, 2023
Set up an Accounting Club in your local school. It is such a hugely rewarding activity that positively impacts students.
During a workplace induction programme, I recently heard troubling stories while talking with some twenty-something trainees.
One told me he was in an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement — a form of personal insolvency). Another said that much of his monthly pay went towards settling CCJs (County Court Judgements — debts enforced by the courts). Both are too young to know what IVAs and CCJs are.
A third explained that he viewed his net pay as a budget for that month’s spending. Everything would be fine so long as he didn’t spend any more. He’s learned the hard way that expenses hit you unevenly and unexpectedly, leading him to use payday loans and more financial trouble.
I asked what they thought had led them into their situations. Unprompted, they all agreed that it was a lack of education. No one in their schools had talked to them about money, at least not in a way that made sense to them.
The basics of money management are part of an “invisible curriculum” that benefits children from privileged backgrounds. Our failure to teach these skills to every pupil perpetuates the pernicious myth of the “deserving poor”.
It’s a scandal.
Something must be done about it
The problems are complex and multi-faceted, and we certainly can’t blame schools or teaching staff who are under incredible pressure from all directions. But maybe we can do something.
Until interrupted by the lockdown, I ran an Accounting Club as an enrichment activity at my local community school. Amazingly, the students gave it a 96% approval rating, and the department head said it was the best-attended enrichment activity in the school. There’s an appetite for this topic among young learners.
Notably, participants reported a better understanding of accounting and realised how important it was as a foundation of financial literacy.
I re-purposed materials from the Colour Accounting Learning System and developed additional activities to reflect the role of accounting within a personal finance context.
The packs you see pictured are provided by Wealthvox at heavily discounted prices for not-for-profit educational use. Schools are usually happy to pay for these from their enrichment activities budget.
If cost is an issue for your school, another possibility is to look for a sponsor. Local firms are likely willing to support an initiative like this for a few hundred pounds.
I designed a delivery programme over ten weekly sessions of about 60–90 minutes. This fits nicely within a school term allowing for a couple of weeks lost to other commitments and activities.
We can quickly adapt it to suit other patterns of delivery. Maybe your school runs “Enterprise Day”, or you might embed it within the “Young Enterprise” scheme many schools offer.
You can do this
Teachers and university lecturers
Business and economics teachers can adopt this, and if you’re an early careers teacher, Accounting Club would be a great addition to your portfolio of practical experience.
University lecturers wishing to connect with their local schools can use this to create meaningful and valuable relationships. Speak to your education or community liaison team. They will have resources and a budget to support you.
Any accountant looking to contribute to the community can be confident that this is a practical and effective way of taking your expertise into a classroom.
Don’t have the time?
You may not have the capacity to do this in your spare time. Talk to your organisation about the benefits of Employer-supported volunteering (ESV).
If you are an employer, have you spoken to your staff about their financial literacy skills? Have you had these kinds of conversations and wondered how you might help? We run a version of this programme for organisations too.
If you are willing to give it a go, Accounting Cafe will support you. We have developed a pack of resources, lesson plans, and online training ready to start delivery in schools in September.
This is a hugely rewarding experience that you will not regret. Complete the form below to register your interest. Or contact me by email or on LinkedIn if you want to chat.
Register your interest
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Part of our Schools series of articles