Mountainview High School in Timaru is ensuring every student is exposed to the financial realities of life, to address a wide disparity in the level of financial knowledge within their diverse student population.

The school’s leadership team identified that a significant proportion of their student body were leaving school without the financial skills required to successfully navigate their way through life, be it in the workplace or further study. A survey undertaken by the school revealed that the majority of students had no bank account, no IRD number and no Kiwisaver.

My challenge now is to pry them away from Banqer High and the organic conversation that goes with it. They are all whizzing around between computers on their wheelie chairs talking about financial literacy!

To redress this, Deputy Principal of Pastoral and Well-being Marc Capstick took the lead and established a new compulsory programme ‘Financial Numeracy,’ built around Banqer High. All Year 10 students, not only those opting for commerce-related subjects, now benefit from exposure to the financial realities of life.

Mountainview High School has a diverse student population drawn from a range of socio-economic and socio-cultural backgrounds. By Year 10, some students are already showing signs of disengaging with education. In addition, a number of students with learning needs are attracted to Mountainview by its well-regarded SENCO programme and future-focused curriculum. Having used Banqer High at his previous school, Marc knew the platform could meet the needs of all these students, “It is self-directed so students can move at their own pace. For some of my students it opens up avenues for conversation, for others it develops their understanding of financial terminology. The more disengaged students log on, know what to do, and rarely toggle away to play games or go off-task. Plus, Banqer High’s extension activities keep the more academically inclined students engaged too.”

Marc delivers the Financial Numeracy course over two terms, linked to the number strand of the maths curriculum, with three forty-five minute sessions each week. The first term, Marc introduces them to the concept of budgeting, before introducing Banqer High in the second term, “I spend some time during the first two periods each week on related quizzes, research activities or mini-projects set up in Google Classroom. The rest of the time they work independently on Banqer High.”

That’s not to say that there isn’t constant discussion during the delivery of this online programme. For Marc’s diverse students, Banqer High provides a context other than prior learning or personal experience, which may vary from student to student, “It allows all the students to talk from the same starting point. For example, when students were trying to buy property and some could and some couldn’t, we had conversations about deposits, savings and the property market, that involved all the students.”

For Marc, the satisfaction lies in witnessing these organic conversations that will undoubtedly inform decisions in later life, “Banqer High’s content has real life application. It walks the students through the logistics of setting up a bank account, brings home the importance of insurance following a disaster, and even makes students think about their future choice of flatmates after learning about joint and several liability if someone puts a hole in the wall!”

Over the last two terms Marc was pleased to see that many of the students were opening bank accounts, applying for IRD numbers and setting up Kiwisaver:

“This course and Banqer High are opening students’ eyes to what they are entitled to, what their rights are. It is empowering them for the future.”

Financial literacy is now classified as an essential literacy within the Mountainview High School’s graduate profile. With the help of Marc’s compulsory Financial Numeracy course and the integration of Banqer High, all students will leave Mountainview High School attaining a minimum level of financial education to set them up for that next step, be it workplace or further study.