Banqer High kickstarts financial awareness at Year 9

St Andrew’s College is a co-educational independent school in Christchurch, operating from pre-school to Year 13. A very high percentage of St Andrew’s students continue on to the tertiary sector. The College is committed to ensuring that these students, as well as those entering the workplace, have the financial capability to smoothly transition to the next stage of their life.

Starting early – Year 9

St Andrew’s has historically provided a financial literacy option for their student cohort. The struggle has always been balancing the importance of understanding how to manage money, with the equally as important demands of NCEA. Head of Commerce, Phil Temple, describes their approach, offering financial literacy as one of many choices on a ‘Skills’ option for seniors, “Students could choose from an array of things such as surfing or barista training, or a financial literacy programme. This option was popular and demonstrated that many Year 12 and 13 students were very unaware of the basics of banking and budgeting.”

Banqer High helps bridge the gap between what the students know at the start of Year 9, and what they need to know by the time they leave school.

Around the same time, the Ministry of Education had acknowledged a need for better financial education of our young people. Phil recalls, “This, and the gap in knowledge of our senior students, initiated a lot of discussion amongst staff around how best to support our students further down the school. One of our business studies ‘gurus’ happened to come across Banqer High and saw the potential.”

The College offers a two-term Economic Studies option at Year 9, “Banqer fitted in perfectly with what we were doing already but added an extra layer, reinforcing what we were covering in class in a realistic and engaging way.”

Integrating Banqer High – it just works

St Andrew’s College started using Banqer High in 2019, “We have two classes doing the Economics Studies option at a time, for three periods each week. With the students only being Year 9, we feel that it is important to spend about four to six weeks introducing the key concepts before we set them up on Banqer. This means that they get the most out of the programme when we get going.”

Phil and his fellow teachers spend one period introducing the programme, “Most of the students get it immediately and we work through the banking and careers expansions. Then it becomes a weekly event when we check-in and see how they are all doing. We cover all the expansions in about fifteen weeks, and it fits exactly with our curriculum.”

Due to demand in the senior school for specialist teachers, a few other Social Science teachers have taught the Economics Studies option over the last two years, “A Religious Education teacher, who admitted that they had to do a bit of background reading to teach the course, thought Banqer High was fantastic. He appreciated how easily it integrated with our course, supporting exactly what we are trying to teach.”

Engaging, even remotely

Phil also valued having access to Banqer High during the COVID-19 lockdown. He had demonstrated Banqer High to the students before the country went into lockdown and has been using it as an integral part of his remote learning programme. Phil has been introducing each expansion virtually and monitoring progress online, “I think more than anything this has demonstrated the engagement the students have with Banqer High. Of my class of twenty-seven, all but four students have continued progressing through the expansions. And because of the way that Banqer High is set up, I can see that four students haven’t done much and I can check in with them to see what’s up.”

It has fun elements, competitive elements. It is an exciting way of teaching something that can be a bit dry.

Phil’s discussions with the students, both face to face and remotely, have shown how the engagement translates into life lessons, “Understanding the actual cost of living has been huge for them. They are enthusiastic about earning income and then factor in the costs of homeownership or rent, taxation, and their student loans and it is a wake-up call.” The careers expansion has also instigated some interesting conversations around the long term cost of university versus studying a trade and getting paid a lot earlier on, “I can see some students have started to have a few doubts about what to do after school!”

The Company Behind Banqer High

In addition to the engagement and the relevance of the content, Phil also rates the company behind Banqer High, “The detail in the programme is already really good, with layer upon layer of complexity that makes things so much more real than a normal classroom-based scenario. But the creators continue to make it more and more sophisticated, this year adding the Kiwisaver expansion.” Phil also rates the training available, “Most teachers can figure it out for themselves, but having a trainer available adds a personal touch.” Support has also been of a consistently high standard, “I had a student teacher who was so excited about the programme that he turned on all the expansions whilst I was away at a sporting event. Luckily Banqer High was able to roll it back!”

Phil concludes, “I would absolutely recommend Banqer High, especially for those junior year levels 9 and 10, when you have the time to make the most of all the programme offers and are not constrained by NCEA commitments.”