back to top

School savings clubs

Good financial education should give children real life experiences. Setting up a school savings club is a great way of making looking after money real for pupils, reinforcing theoretical knowledge with practical learning.

What is a savings club?

Savings clubs are a schools-based activity whereby pupils are offered the chance to deposit and withdraw small amounts of money on a regular basis, usually in partnership with a local credit union (or community bank).

Savings clubs give pupils practical experience of handling money, helping to foster a savings habit and other good financial habits from an early age. The important thing is not the amount that is saved but the fact that pupils save a little regularly. Pupils should be encouraged to save for a purpose, rather than just for its own sake. The LifeSavers programme also encourages schools to involve pupils in running the savings club as junior cashiers or bank managers, under the supervision of adult volunteers.

Savings clubs are not a new idea. LifeSavers seeks to build on best practice from small-scale schemes across the country, by opening up this opportunity to many more schools in a sustainable way, and by integrating savings clubs into a whole school approach to financial education.

Why set up a savings club?

There are many practical learning opportunities around using and handling money for pupils that come with joining and helping to run a school savings club:

  • Offering pupils a hands-on experience of managing their own money. Handling and taking responsibility for money are vital parts of the learning.
  • Giving pupils the opportunity to open a savings account with a local financial institution and develop the skills necessary to become a ‘critical consumer’
  • Encouraging parents and carers to get involved in their children’s financial education, through helping them to save and use money wisely
  • Introducing a working knowledge and understanding of credit unions’ mutual values and principles
  • Giving older pupils the chance to volunteer with the savings club, fostering life-long skills, such as organisation, communication skills and teamwork

“My mum says I spend money too quickly, so this will help me think about what I really want” year 5 pupil

LifeSavers can help you make the most of these opportunities, by providing guidance on how to run a successful school savings club and how to link this to our classroom teaching and collective worship resources as part of a whole school approach to financial education.

“My money at home always gets lost and in school club it won’t” year 2 pupil

How to run a savings club?

Every savings club is operated slightly differently, depending on what is agreed between the school and the credit union. However, there are some features that are common to well-run savings clubs, and that we would recommend to schools that are considering setting up their own savings club:

  • open once a week, ideally before school so that children can bank their cash before they start the school day
  • identify a suitable location, preferably the same place each week and somewhere that is accessible to parents, so they can accompany younger pupils
  • encourage children to set achievable savings goals, in order to experience for themselves the benefits of saving
  • involve pupil volunteers in running the savings club under adult supervision. You will be surprised how much they learn and enjoy it!
  • recruit volunteers from the local community – parents, governors, local church members – to supervise the savings club, in order to take some of the pressure of school staff
  • organise joint training sessions for pupil and adult volunteers, preferably with someone from the credit union
  • arrange for the school office to handle the cash deposited and transfer it to the credit union, who will administer the children’s junior saver accounts
  • offer small rewards, such as certificates and stickers. Remember, it is the regularity of saving, not the amount saved, that you want to encourage
  • look for creative ways for the whole school to take ownership of the savings club, for example by running a competition to name the savings club or design a logo
  • combine the savings club with classroom learning, using the wide range of financial education resources that are now available for primary schools

“Training our older students to run the savings bank was a brilliant opportunity for responsibility which they have risen to.”

LifeSavers can help you to work through the practicalities of setting up a schools savings club, with the help of our Savings Club Handbook (coming soon). Our financial education resources and free CPD training offer will help you to incorporate the savings club into a coherent programme of financial education for your school.

What is a credit union?

Central to many school savings clubs in schools is the partnership with a local credit union. So it’s important that everyone involved with the savings club understands what credit unions are and how they operate.

Credit unions are a type of local, community bank. Like banks, they offer a range of financial services, primarily savings and loans. Unlike banks, credit unions operate as a financial mutual, lending people’s savings out to other members. Any profit is redistributed among the members or re-invested in the credit union. To join a credit union, you have to fit within their ‘common bond’, which usually means living in a specified geographical area, or working for a particular employer.

Credit unions have a number of clear aims and values:

  • Encouraging members to save, as well as borrow;
  • Offering loans at fair and reasonable interest rates, taking into account what people can afford to repay;
  • Empowering members to use money wisely and make informed choices about their finances;
  • Using members' savings efficiently and for the mutual benefit of members and the local community

Credit unions are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which means that members’ savings are protected if the credit union were to fail. Currently, over one million people in the United Kingdom are members of a credit union, including around 136,000 junior savers. Being part of the savings club means that pupils will become junior members of the credit union. When they reach adulthood (usually 16), they will be eligible to register as full members.

You can find a local credit union at www.findyourcreditunion.co.uk, but it is important to note that not all schools will have a credit union that covers their area, and that not all credit unions are equipped or have the capacity to support school savings clubs.

Download the Teacher Fact File: Credit Unions to find out more.