Interactive Investor

Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards 2022: winners announced

5th December 2022 10:08

Jemma Jackson from interactive investor

interactive investor reveals the UK’s best personal finance teachers.

  • Winning schools span Lancashire, Northamptonshire, Wales, Norwich, London, and Kent

interactive investor, the UK’s second-largest investment platform for private investors, is proud to announce the winners of the interactive investor Personal Finance Teacher of the Year Awards 2022

It comes at a time when the cost-of-living crisis and biting inflation has put the importance of financial literacy and confidence with money firmly into the spotlight. 

The scale of the cost-of-living crisis is even seeing some teachers extend their reach beyond the classroom. One of ii’s 2022 commended teacher’s, Claire Sexsmith from Weavers Academy in Wellingborough, has developed drop-in sessions for parents, covering issues such as budgeting and how to support yourself out of debt.

ii’s award was designed to recognise teachers across the key stages who have actively sought to instil good financial know-how among their pupils, especially those doing it in a particularly creative and engaging way, awarding cash prizes to winning schools to help fund their important efforts.

This year, there are cash prizes for six schools. There were two overall winners, one from a primary school and one from a secondary school. ii has also awarded cash prizes to one highly commended teacher and three commended teachers.

"Teach us about earnings and taxes!”

Highlighting the appetite for practical money skills, this year’s secondary school winner, Emma Baker from Caldicot School Ysgol Cil-y-Coed in Monmouthshire, South Wales, was praised for her interactive approach. She asked her Year 7 maths students what they thought they needed to learn as part of numeracy and mathematics, and while pi (and cryptocurrency) cropped up, the majority of answers were focused on maths the pupils will use when they are adults: earnings and taxes.

Meet the judging panel 

2022’s judging panel was made up of: Guy Rigden, Chief Executive of charity MyBnkDominic Vallier, Head of Financial Education Relationship Managers, London Institute of Banking and FinanceJeff Prestridge; Personal Finance Editor, Mail on Sunday; Carol Knight, CEO, TISA and Trustee of The Centre for Financial Capability, and Richard Wilson, CEO, interactive investor.

Richard Wilson, CEO of interactive investor, says: “Teachers can be influential champions of personal finance education, and it’s important to recognise the work they do. We are living in an increasingly complex financial environment where many individuals and families are facing tough financial decisions.

“Mastering the basics of finances is one thing, but newer themes such as ‘Buy Now Pay Later’ schemes, increasingly sophisticated financial scams, and cryptocurrency, for example, all add another dimension for young people; making the topic of money vast and potentially overwhelming. That’s where the work of these inspiring teachers comes in. 

“Our award celebrates teachers all over the UK who are using their time in the classroom to explain the real impact of these themes and challenges, helping students avoid falling into the traps of glossy marketing and getting themselves into precarious financial positions. 

“Every year, we witness first-hand the real positive impact these teachers are having through high quality personal finance lessons. It helps foster a healthy relationship with money which will hopefully continue throughout these young people’s lives. Huge congratulations to all of our winners.”

Meet the winners 

Personal Finance Teacher of the Year – overall winners who each get £6,000 for their schools

Winner (primary school)

Yasmeen Abbas, St Silas CofE Primary Academy, Blackburn, Lancashire

Yasmeen has been teaching personal finance at St Silias for the last seven years, working with Brian Souter at DebtAware Money Skills for Life to develop a programme of study for the children in Upper Key Stage 2 designed to build a strong understanding of personal finance.

The programme outlines the difference between necessities and luxuries; explaining to pupils why budgeting is important and the importance of avoiding unnecessary debt. She also teaches the pupils about the dangers of gambling and how social media and clever advertising can affect their decisions about money.

The judges commended the ‘take home tasks’ Yasmeen gives her pupils, which help facilitate more honest and open conversations between children and their parents about money. She believes this is crucial for helping pupils understand why parents may prioritise bill-paying over the newest game console, for example. Similarly, the initiative of creating peer-to-peer ‘Money Mentors’ impressed the judges, helping pupils learn from their peers and build their confidence on the various aspects of personal finance. 

Winner (secondary school)

Emma Baker, Caldicot School Ysgol Cil-y-Coed, Monmouthshire, South Wales 

Emma studied mathematics in Cardiff as a student and has been teaching maths in schools across South Wales for the last twenty years. Emma’s passion for personal finance shone through in her award entry; explaining that as a student in Cardiff, in a bid to avoid student debt, she financed her way through university and teacher training by means of a part time job with Nationwide Building Society. Her experience as a customer service adviser on the main counter, through to processing savings and mortgage applications, highlighted the importance of financial education for children and young people, as opportunities to learn this information once you leave school can be limited and therefore teachers have a monumental impact to instil this knowledge early on. 

The judges were impressed with how Emma involved her pupils in her choice of lessons - surveying her pupils on what should be included in the curriculum, which helps ensure her lessons are relevant to the financial environment the children are living in and what the pupils are curious about. Some of her Year 7s wanted to learn about specific themes such as cryptocurrency, but the majority of those she asked wanted to learn about the basic practicalities of the personal finance decisions they will face as adults – i.e. learning about income, and explaining how taxes work. 

The judges said Emma’s teaching resources she submitted on being a consumer were powerful and interactive, and clearly brought Emma’s mathematical experience to bear.  Emma put a survey out to her Year 7 and asked them what they thought they should be learning. Some students wanted to learn about cryptography, some wanted to know what pi is. But interestingly, the majority of answers are focused on maths the pupils will use when they are adults. They wanted to know how much they will earn and about taxes!

Highly commended runner-up (secondary school), who gets £4,000 for their school

Neil Moggan, City Academy, Norwich  

Neil has clearly made a significant contribution towards the teaching of personal finance at City Academy, and his work extends beyond just the four walls of the classroom. 

The judging panel praised the sentiment behind the financial guide he gave to his pupils on exam results day which laid out some key financial well-being takeaways for the pupils now that they were leaving school. The detailed guide covers a wide range of key financial events throughout one’s life, giving helpful tips and step-by-step considerations on areas such as university costs, through to buying a car, to buying a first home. 

His initiative of creating his own ‘Mastering Money’ programme also impressed the panel – helping Year 7's and 8's develop a deeper understanding of the personal finance themes taught in lessons, as well as teaching them about entrepreneurship and the opportunities that it could provide in the future.

Commended (secondary), who each get £3,000 for their school

Claire Sexsmith, Weavers Academy, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire 

Claire has led on including personal finance into her school’s sixth form curriculum since becoming Head of Sixth Form at Weavers Academy. This, in tandem with being the school’s designated safeguarding lead, has helped her build a robust framework for money lessons within her school with a key focus on financial well-being. Claire also developed drop-in sessions for parents too - covering various areas such as choosing accounts in a digital age; basic budgeting; how to support yourself out of debt and what to watch out for. 

Claire’s passion for the importance of teaching pupils about debt, in particular, captured the judges’ attention, and she uses powerful case studies on the subject with her students in order to demonstrate how easy it is for any people to get into similar situations with debt, and how they can mitigate this risk.

Emma Stannard, Ursuline College, Westgate on Sea, Kent

Emma has taught at Ursuline College for three years, and during this time has introduced a Level 3 finance qualification into its sixth form, with the number of pupils studying for the qualification growing year-on-year. 

Emma impressed judges by how she brought various financial topics to life. Using the example of the look of ‘horror’ on some of her pupil’s faces when she explained how the money they earn for paid work is not necessarily the amount that will get paid into their bank accounts. Emma believes in engaging pupils on the topics with real world stories and situations including many that she experienced herself or has been exposed to. And these real-world stories have certainly got students talking, with parents saying their children come home eager to share what they learned in Emma’s lessons.

Tom Rayner, Bentley Wood High School, Stanmore, North London 

Tom Rayner is Head of Business and Economics at Bentley Wood High School for Girls based in Stanmore (North London). Tom has taught for 12 years and has since introduced personal finance into the Business Studies curriculum at Bentley Wood, as well as his school before this. Tom also recently launched the Certificate in Financial Studies (CeFS) for his sixth-form students, which encourages pupils to make informed financial decisions by introducing them to the risks and challenges involved in personal finance, and gives them the tools for effective financial planning.

The judges praised how Tom has embedded financial literacy into the Year 9 transition year through a six-week programme where students learn about the different finances (including savings and borrowing, for example) and how these impact individuals as well as broader businesses.

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