Innovation and inclusion to develop financial capability for all
Case Study of LifeSavers at Worksop Priory Church of England Primary School, Worksop, Nottinghamshire.
Like other primary schools running LifeSavers, Worksop Priory has discovered the programme creates an unusual level of interest. "The LifeSavers savings club has created real excitement within the school, with both parents and children keen to be involved," says Felicity Dorrington the savings club coordinator.
"The children get a buzz out of being part of a club, especially those who serve as savings managers. This is often their first real taste of responsibility."
As well as establishing sound financial management at an age when children form their ideas about money and what to do with it, Felicity reports other benefits central to the business of teaching and learning. "LifeSavers is giving children a different approach to maths, and we have already seen an improvement in the children's ability to make calculations and handle money."
But when LifeSavers started, the school had its work cut out to make the opportunity to save a reality for every child.
Although some children save just 20 pence each week, this is testimony to the culture the school has created and the ethos of LifeSavers which stresses the importance of putting money aside on a regular basis to achieve a goal.
"We want children to experience the satisfaction of buying something with their own funds," says Polly Taylor, a Project Co-ordinator at the Just Finance Foundation, home to LifeSavers. "This gives them the confidence of knowing they can achieve their goals independently. When they are adults, they are more likely to question whether they should take – and pay the costs of - easily available credit."
However, saving remains beyond the reach of others. "Sometimes parents simply can't afford for their child to have their own savings account," Felicity explains.
To overcome the barriers, Worksop Priory developed an ingenious approach. First, they introduced the idea of saving as a collective activity. Each class has their own savings account and will decide collectively what to spend their money on at the end of the year.
Then they added chickens. "The school uses some of its Pupil Premium funds to support six allotments, one for each year group, and there are also chickens," laughs Felicity. "Each class grows on their plot and takes it in turn to look after the chickens for a week at a time. They share produce with the school and eat school meals made from the home-grown produce together.
Then they sell the rest – salads, vegetables and eggs - to parents and teachers. All the income goes towards the class savings account." In this way, every child is involved. Pooling effort and sharing the gains bring the LifeSavers values of generosity, thankfulness and justice to life in a particularly vivid way.
The school may even have found an effective way to amplify wisdom, the fourth value of the programme. "Radishes didn't sell well last year!" says Felicity. "The produce grown this year will have to be chosen more carefully. The children are learning from direct experience how better planning means more money."
Emma-Jayne Turner, LifeSavers Project Manager at Young Enterprise, JFF's delivery partner, comments, "Worksop Priory have raised the bar for us all in LifeSavers. By adding income generation into the mix, their children have a unique insight into the whole cycle of earning, saving and spending. We will study the evaluation with interest to see what difference this makes."
"They are an inspiration," says Paul Eastwood, Director of Partnerships at Virgin Money, LifeSavers' funder. "The way the school has adapted LifeSavers to work for them demonstrates how the core curriculum is just the start of a learning journey. It is a programme that can make a real difference to the growth of young people in every school."