Compulsory financial literacy unit influences students’ outlook
A compulsory Year 10 Financial Literacy course built around Banqer High has been welcomed by Whanganui High School’s leadership, teachers and students. The new eight-week unit sits within the school’s Social Sciences program, educating students about crucial life skills while delivering high student engagement.
Students learn life’s financial facts
Understanding the impact of one’s financial choices occurs consistently across each cohort. All students finished the unit with a deeper understanding of what debt can do to their lives. Bevan Hunter, Head of Faculty of Social Sciences and one of nine teachers delivering the Financial Literacy unit says,
In the times we live in, the line between wants and needs has become very blurred, and Banqer High allows us to unpack that. The students realise that holidays and other luxuries involve sacrifices.
At a more individual level, Bevan cites examples of students reconsidering their future education and career choices, “They now realise that further study comes with significant debt and what that means. When they wrote CVs, I interviewed them and questioned why they wanted a particular job, it challenged them. Some of them are having a rethink.”
New conversations with whānau also began opening up, stemming from Banqer topics. Some students even advised their parents to change their mortgage payments to weekly or fortnightly rather than monthly, having calculated the difference it would make in interest. Bevan says,
Opening their eyes to the concept of interest was probably the biggest take away. They are now far more aware of what a mortgage really means and the risks of loan sharks and credit cards.
The teachers also applied the lessons learned in Banqer High to other activities, “We run Geography trips to the South Island so we used Banqer High to show students how important it was to budget for every little thing.”
The impact that Banqer High has had on the Year 10 students was most evident when the SMART$ Theatre-in-Education interactive performance came to the school, “The year before the students had struggled to focus, they weren’t interested in the topic. This year it was the polar opposite. The students were highly engaged and were asking questions and discussing the issues raised.”
Engagement across the board
Engagement was high for all students, with Bevan saying they especially enjoyed Banqer’s personalised delivery. “The boys particularly enjoyed the competitive side of it and wanted to be on the podium! They were logging in and working on it at home, which is the biggest sign of interest in Banqer High.”
Whanganui High School is a state co-educational New Zealand secondary school with a roll of almost fifteen hundred students, making it the largest school in Whanganui. Three hundred and fifty Year 10 students will have used Banqer High by the end of the year.
The topics covered by Banqer High and the supporting activities also encouraged the teachers and students to open up.
Quieter students frequently contributed to discussions, and I found myself sharing decisions that I had made during my life too, both good and bad, and the students seemed to appreciate stories from a real person.
Bevan says the school was keen to improve the financial literacy of their students. After completing a trial in 2021, the team agreed that Banqer High was a perfect fit with what the school wanted to achieve, fostering student awareness in the students of the consequences of financial decisions.
Bevan and his colleagues made full use of Banqer’s resources, videos and forums and appreciated the multiple class activities that accompanied each expansion.
To get up and running quickly, the team worked with Banqer’s Teacher Success Manager, Georgia, completing an online introductory session and tapping into Georgia’s support line when they had any questions. Bevan says,
With a newborn baby in my life, Banqer made planning very easy!
Implementation was simple due to the program's flexibility, “We are a large school, but it was straightforward to integrate. I believe Banqer High can work across a range of models from an hour a week across a year to a short intense program, or in an eight-week block like ours.”
After seeing Banqer’s impact, the school bought an extra 150 licenses for senior students considering workplace opportunities to help them better understand life in the ‘real world’. Whanganui High School has always supported students wanting to begin their working life by helping them apply for jobs and write CVs, so Banqer High was a perfect fit.
In addition to the resources and support from Banqer, Bevan credits the success of the rollout to Claire Libeau, who sourced Banqer High and encouraged the teaching team, and to Principal Martin McAllen for seeing the wider value of the program beyond just the Social Science curriculum and getting wholeheartedly behind it.
I highly recommend Banqer High, not just for the educational impact but also for the connection it builds between you as a teacher and your students. I still remember my teacher talking to me about setting life goals, and Banqer High provides the context to initiate those conversations with your own students.