Fantastic resources, an easy-to-use platform, and a proactive community supporting Year 8 teacher Natasha de Soden.

Banqer Primary is fully integrated into Natasha de Soden’s Year 8 class at Northcross Intermediate, Auckland. On Day 1, Natasha’s students log in, organise their jobs and by the time she opens module 2, “it pretty much runs itself.” By year-end students have all benefitted from a wealth of real-life experiences. They have opened bank accounts, earned money, spent money, bought houses, had them burn down, and crashed cars without insurance. Thanks to their Banqer lessons, they can all identify where they went wrong, and what their options are to get themselves out of the hole. Natasha’s students graduate intermediate with a whole new world of financial potential.

Natasha uses the Banqer teacher resources for inspiration and, combined with her own passion and creativity, her lessons cut across multiple subject areas. For literacy, her students keep a reflective journal on their Banqer journey, writing about their experiences, how they felt and what they learnt. One student had their car was written off with no insurance, and that lesson is certainly sure to stay with them!

When I apply our maths focus to Banqer they think because it is ‘real’ and fun, it can’t be maths!

A highlight for Natasha was an auction where students used their Banqer dollars to bid on items. Students wrote creative descriptions for the items and a real estate agent brought in his auction paddles. One student bid too much for an envelope of Banqer notes with a misleading description. Natasha says, “He consulted his lawyer uncle and charged me with giving misleading information and took me to a classroom court with a judge and jury.” Natasha even ended up having to pay compensation!

Natasha uses the Banqer parent homework assignments to spark rich conversations at home. She finds parents can be reluctant to help with algebra but are comfortable talking about opening their first bank account or getting their first mortgage, and frequently offer advice to their children. Natasha says “Lots of the students emulate their parents’ suggestions such as the importance of saving to buy their first house.” Last year one girl’s parents opened current and savings accounts for her on the basis of the conversations she was having around Banqer.

It demonstrated to them that she had the life skills to manage her own money and they wanted to support her with that.

When Auckland was plunged into lockdown, it had no impact on Banqer, “We would have an online video chat when I launched a module, I would set their homework targets, and away they went.” She found the additional resources and activities that Banqer provided during lockdown very helpful. To make sure that everyone was checking into Banqer regularly, Natasha made use of the teacher’s ability to debit money from students' accounts, “When they spotted it and wanted to dispute a withdrawal, they had to follow real-life processes and email me a request to investigate the incorrect debit with a snapshot of the transaction. It was yet another fantastic learning opportunity, and I could see students were discussing it with each other outside of our online class time.”

Students on laptops

Natasha is impressed how every child, no matter their ability, learns and engages with Banqer. “Interestingly it seems to be my lower level maths learners who are savvier. This year I have a lower level student who owns twenty-seven houses. He understands that the best way of making money is by buying property as a rental investment. A top maths student didn’t apply the maths to the real-life scenario and only bought one, preferring to save at a low-interest rate.” For the lower-level student, this was very empowering and the class discussion around these choices was insightful for all. Natasha’s advice to other teachers is to embed Banqer into your planning for the year.

Read the Banqer teacher resources, and tap into the Banqer Community, an online forum where teachers and the Banqer team share all their amazing ideas and go for it. Use the interactive videos to introduce the modules to the students and they can take it from there.

Her favourite feature? “There’s a wonderful little button you can click on to open a chat and a real person answers! A pregnant colleague had to suddenly go on extended leave and the Banqer team instantly transferred everything to me so I could run her class. You don’t need to spend a lot of time on Banqer, everything you need is there and in no time at all it will be part and parcel of what you and your students do.”