7 mistakes to avoid as a new manager

Trying to do too much  – Of course you want to make a good impression and if you’re anything like me, you’ll be apprehensive to say no to anything. But here’s the thing about working in schools. There will always be more to do than is physically possible. My advice to you; pick the two or three initiatives/projects you want to hang your hat on and be known for, and go all in. That doesn’t mean you don’t do anything else, that’s not realistic but these 2-3 things are what you’ll always come back to, what you want to become known for and an expert in. If asked to do more than you can handle you can go back to your line manager and explain how it will effect your priorities and because by then you’ll be the go to person for those areas, they won’t want to pull you from them.

Action before observation – Yes you want to hit the ground running and the academic year just seems too short to get everything done but I have seen a lot of managers storm in and start initiatives before ever observing what the current state of affairs is. So here’s my argument for not acting straight away:

a) It allows you to see how things are working and whether something needs a tweak or an overhaul

b) You doń’t come across as a power hungry authoritarian who wants to make their mark

c) When you do want to make a change you are suggesting it from a place of knowing, of what isn’t working as well as it should and can refer to instances you have witnessed.

Hanging on to to the past – Here’s the thing. No on wants to hear about how your previous school/dept etc.. did things better. Do not compare people. They don’t like it. Instead look forward and say how what you are suggesting may help the school/dept move forward.

Quick fixes over processes – This often happens when managers act too fast. They put a plaster on a wound that has cut an artery and really needs stitches. Take the time to get to the root of the problem. You may have a quick fix and you can use it. But you won’t be under the illusion it will solve it forever and can put processes in place to make a bigger change for the better. 

Blanket conversations – Just like in the classroom how blanket punishments don’t work neither do blanket conversations. Yes introduce initiatives to the whole dept but then don’t forget to speak to individuals or small groups about how it effects them.

Lack of clarity of goals in communication – I am amazed at how often things are introduced yet the person introducing them doesn’t know why. Like really. Why. Be honest with your colleagues and make sure you know the why and it’s an emotive reason. Simon Sinek has spoken about this to great length so check out his Ted talk if you haven’t already.

Misalignment of goals – make sure you and your line manager know where you are heading and that you are going in a similar direction. When I took over a poor performing dept I made it very clear I wasn’t going to be able to turn around 2 key stages in one year. I would do one key stage a year. Managed expectations meant they knew what they were getting but also allowed me to steadily introduce changes to the staff and make changes in a manageable way. 

What I’ve learnt from speaking to approximately 1000 young people about money.

Over the past 3 months I’ve been speaking in schools to young people about Money in a broad sense and more specifically about Personal Finance, The Economy and Recruitment on the back of a book I recently published called ‘What Young People Need to Know about Money.’

Why? Because over the past 10 years whilst I have taught Business and Economics and found that whilst the focus is on how money has an impact on organisations, little is discussed about the impact on individuals. In addition I have felt for a while now that our young people are entering a world that is very different from the one that teachers experienced, with credit more readily available through schemes such as Klarna and the ability to spend via more channels that were previously an option. Thus, making them more economically active that previous generations.

Having done 10 talks now here is what I have found.

Young people are aware of graduate salaries but confused as to how salaries in later life work

When I have asked young people how much they expect to get paid, many are aware of graduate salary averages. Where confusion often sets in, is around the expectations of pay increases throughout their career making it more challenging for them to understand how much they could be earning by 30 for example. 

The BBC recently conducted a survey and found that teenagers expected to be earning £70,000 by the time they were 30. In reality, the average is between £32,000 – £35,000. This, as you can imagine, can have a large impact on their expectations and mental health as they get older. What they consider to be success is likely to be largely influenced by these unrealistic expectations as well as the life they expect to lead vs the one they can afford.

Although aware of the gender pay gap many feel there is not much that can be done and don’t realise how quickly it takes effect.

Many of our young people have seen the media attention around the gender pay gap and are aware of it. However it’s something they often imagine will not effect them for at least 10 years, and to be more specific, many girls felt it wouldn’t affect them until they have children. Research by HESA found that 18 months after graduating they already identified a 10% difference in the salary of men and women. So the gender pay gap starts pretty early and we owe it to our young girls to make them aware of this and ensure they feel comfortable discussing finances in work and at home.

Although digitally advanced there are few discussions on how to use technology to counteract inequality in society

Rightly so, schools are warning young people of the dangers of technology through lessons on digital safety. This is necessary and should be the case. However, something that is discussed less often is how technology can allow young people to prosper in the face of adversity. How young women with children no longer need to have a 3 year gap on their CV if they decide to stay at home with their children because they can trade and develop their expertise online. Using this experience to demand a respectable salary should they wish to join the traditional work force. 

How people are using technology to supplement their income and lifestyle is something that needs to be explored with our young people so they can see technology as a tool as opposed to something done to them.

The cost of having a family remains unknown

I recently did a lesson with my economics group where we looked at the supply of labour. We discussed the difficult decision that many mothers face when deciding whether or not to return to the workforce. The conversation naturally turned towards the costs of childcare. It occurred to me that the young people in front of me had no idea how much this was, why would they? (the average guess was approx £100 a month). Upon informing the average costs in different cities one of the boys highlighted that this information should be included when delivering sex education as it’s likely to be a bigger deterrent for early unplanned pregnancies.

The multipotentialite is a reality that they do not expect, but should

When asking what young people expect to be doing in their career I have found that many of them still imagine their working life to be fairly static. 

However, data shows that our young people can expect to have multiple careers, not just jobs in the future. Their ability to transfer skills from one industry to another will be critical to their success in the workplace. 

They know social media isn’t real!

They get it. Influencers can lie. Everyone is presenting their best self. Blah blah blah. But just like with adults, that doesn’t mean they don’t want the stuff they see. What they want to know is how does it work behind the scenes. E.g. product for posts deals where the influencer gets the product for a post and will often post the product back to the brand rather than keep it. Or the tax cuts they get when being an influencer is a full time job so the items work out cheaper for them. I think if we share the details we lose the romanticism of it and can then present it like any other job. For instance explaining that a lot of the time fashion influencers spend time out in the cold getting changed in often dirty public toilets to get the perfect shot to then send a dress back, sounds a lot less appealing than it looks on instagram.

Recruitment is changing and we need to prepare our young people for the changes

The traditional recruitment route looked something like this when a firm realised it needed to fill a post

Traditional recruitment route 

  1. Company realises they have a vacant post 
  2. Draw up Job Description (JD) and Person Specification (PS), which highlights what the person needs to do and any required qualifications 
  3. Advertise post internally and/or externally 
  4. Person looking for work sees the job advertised and applies if suitable for them 
  5. The company checks applicants against JD and PS and shortlists those they want to interview 
  6. Interview process takes place to select a candidate for the job 
  7. The job is offered to the suitable candidate if there is one 
  8. If the candidate accepts, they are trained to do well in the company throughout their time there

Of course we know there was always word of mouth and social circles that would help some people a role. However the nature of recruitment is changing. It can now look more like this:

  1. A company could realise it has a post available or always look out for talented individuals with a particular skill set (e.g., lawyers to join a firm or engineers). 
  2. Look for individuals with those skills through networks, colleagues, or online through recruitment sites, personal blogs, and online portfolios. 
  3. Ask suitable individuals to come in for a chat about their experience and speak to them about projects the company is currently undertaking and likely to be working on in the future. 
  4. Discuss how the individual could contribute to the business. 
  5. Decide whether to create/offer the individual a position.

Further changes to the process of recruitment have sped up during the pandemic. We are all aware that interviews can now take place online via Zoom or Teams for instance which poses the obvious problems of how a person comes across via technology vs in person and also the fact that many employees may not even see their place of work before signing a contract.

But others changes are also afoot. There now exist recruitment chatbots. These are particularly used for companies who mass hire in junior positions for graduate programmes for instance. These companies pose a series of Questions online through a chat bot which seems very human like and looks out for certain key words/phrases before deciding whether you go through to the next level of the recruitment process. Another way companies do this is by scanning CVs through software to identify key words/phrases they expect to see such as qualifications and experience.

Other recruitment methods might see our young people judged solely on their online presence through work they have done online and portfolios they have made available online.

What does this mean for schools?

This poses some key challenges for school particularly secondary and 6th form/higher education institutions that are preparing young people for the workplace.

  1. Vocabulary is key – particularly industry specific vocabulary – If a computer programme will determine whether you go through to the next round they our young people need to have a vocabulary that does them justice. Therefore the pressure on this higher level qualifications to insure the academic information delivered has industry specific vocabulary becomes every important.
  2. Our young people’s online presence needs to be positive – Schools have worked hard to teach their young people about security and safety online but do we need to do more on showing young people how to set up a LinkedIn Page, and online portfolio, a blog or even a Pinterest board of their creations? This may be the first point of call for future recruiters.
  3. Self monitoring their online presence – young people are likely to have strong opinions. Whereas before these may have been restricted to their friends, family, classroom or playground they are now often online for all to see. What this means is learning is happening out loud. As their thoughts develop it is worth encouraging young people to check their online presence for dated views, negative things they may have said and learn from them and correct their stance.

Further details of how the world of work is changing can be found in my book ‘What young people need to know about money’ which can be found here https://tinyurl.com/327nc36c 

Why did money become a dirty word?

Money is a touchy subject for many, the source of deep emotions, conflicts and anxieties.

I would argue that the taboo around money has kept students ignorant of better habits, practices and perspectives.

Why am I waxing lyrical about money? Because discussing it with our young people could be the key to a better future.

The money taboo can keep women and minorities at the low-end of the pay gap, since it makes it harder to learn the true value of their labour. Discuss it and some of that is gone. We can at least begin to hope for a more equal society. The taboo could worsen class conflict by increasing envy and resentment of the rich. We see this divide playing out with recent votes for Brexit and calls to stop immigration. A simple understanding of supply and demand of labour would show that actually as a country we rely on immigration to fill our jobs.

So why don’t we talk about this in schools? Why is information like this limited to the classrooms of business and economics or politics perhaps? Well, traditionally this information has been passed down from parent to child. It’s been an area for the home to cover. You can bet your bottom dollar the parents of the kids at Eton are giving their kids a financial education, whether by discussing investments, demonstrating an entrepreneurial mindset or watching their parents make calculated financial decisions. But here’s the thing. In a recent article by the Financial Times recent research found that 68% of adults lacked basic money management skills which had driven them into debt. We can’t rely on parents to educate young people about money because the topic is heavily emotional and tainted by their parents/carers experiences.

Morgan Housel in his book The Psychology of Money, starts his book off with a chapter called ‘No one’s crazy’ highlighting that people aren’t good or bad with money as such. But more conditioned by their experiences. If bought up in poverty, they fear a lack of money and therefore are likely to make decisions that constrict their chances of making more (risking it in entrepreneurial ventures or even investing it for instance). I grew up as a child of immigrant parents, they knew the only way for them to do well financially (as their qualifications were not recognised in the UK) was to start their own business. Every purchase we made as kids was equated to the number of items we would have to sell in the factory, to cover the cost. Therefore, I grew up around an entrepreneurial mindset. In fact the first Question my father asked me when I qualified as a teacher was when I was going to start my own school! Think about the mindset your parents had around money and how this influenced you.

More importantly how is this influencing our young people? Is it surprising that our poorest young people stay in poverty. Yes a good education will help them to an extent, but an education about money will at least level the playing field a bit for when they enter the world. How can we continue to ignore this?

One of the reasons we haven’t spoken about money is because it’s been a way of attributing peoples value in society, which rightly so has made people uncomfortable. But I would argue this is changing. I recently asked my business class what success meant to them. They didn’t mention a Rolex a Lambhorgini or a big house. Instead they said freedom. The conversation around money is changing. Young people want financial freedom. And we have a responsible to give them the basic knowledge and skills to one day attain it.

My book, ‘ What young people need to know about Money’ is out on Amazon on 13th February. Targeted at 14-25 year olds it can be used by young people themselves or parents/carers can use it with them. Short chapters and lots of activities mean it is something young people can dip in and out of and stay engaged with.

Genius resides within you.

I love teaching I really do. It’s the reason I gave up my role as a Vice Principal this academic year, because I missed being in the classroom. Missed the rush delivering lesson after lesson. I might sound mad but I’m telling the truth. But I think we can all relate to how exhausting it can be.

I recently watched Elizabeth Gilberts Ted talk ‘Your elusive creative genius’ for the 10th time over the last couple of years. What I love about this talk is she argues that there is enormous pressure on artists to be geniuses. She describes how after the success of her first book she was frightened that nothing she wrote would live up to that ever again. She promotes a different perspective. That rather than ‘being’ a genius, artists ‘have’ genius within them. That they separate themselves from that genius in a healthy way. Ask for it to show up but don’t tie their identity to it.

Yes I am comparing teachers to artists, because in all my years of watching these magicians at work I really do believe holding the attention of 30 individuals and transferring knowledge is an art form. But when we become the job we have a problem. You see as teachers we believe we ARE the job not that we DO the job. I’ve heard people say it over and over again, teaching is a vocation, but I think this comes at a terrible price, one where our self esteem hangs by a thread on people’s perception of us.

But what if rather than being an excellent teacher we all believed that we hold excellence inside of us. That we must nurture it. And embrace that it comes in volumes. In a 6 or 7 period day it may come loudly in P3 and then go for a short rest in Period 4. Do you think we’d be kinder to ourselves in that way?

So how will you nurture your genius this week? With a hot chocolate on the way home one evening? By going easy on yourself if you don’t stick to the lesson plan? By taking the time to have lunch sat down. Whatever it is, recognise that it resides in you.

Representation, Inclusion and our new Podcast ‘School meets world’

4 years old was when I asked my teacher for a ‘kenchi’ (scissors) at nursery unable to think of what the English word was. I ran home at the end of the school day to ask my older brother and cried with embrassment.

6, is how old I was when I moved to a school in a predominantly white neighbourhood and realised I was different.

12, was the first time I heard someone hurl racist abuse at my mum and dad and watched them put their head down and walk away quickly to avoid confrontation.

14, is when I scribbled on the back of my history book, ‘where are all the women and brown people?’ I don’t think anyone ever saw it.

16, is how old I was when a man shouted in my face saying, that he didn’t want to be served by a p**i in the jewellery store I was working in.

18, is when I realised my background gave me a significant handicap in the degree I had chosen and I had to do something about it.

20, is how old I was when I watched a mainstream British movie that had a cast that looked like me and my family.

28, was the first time I saw a successful Indian woman in academia and was able to begin to imagine what my life could look like.

29, is when I started seeing my ethnicity as my superpower. My background and culture gave me a unique understanding of the world around me and I was grateful for that.

30, when I realised that without knowing it I was setting an example for young Indian girls in the schools I was teaching. 

This month on our podcast, School Meets World, Karl C Pupe talk about Race, Representation and Inclusion. So as you can imagine it got me thinking about the role these things have played in my life. 

Honestly speaking for much of my younger life I just wanted to be white and for life to be smoother. But now in my 30s I believe my ethnicity and background of having immigrant parents who settled in the UK, is my superpower. It’s this background that made me make the most of my education because my mum didn’t get to step foot in a school because of her gender. It’s this background that has permanently planted a little voice in my head every time I doubt myself that says ‘Come on Roma you’re parents came here with nothing and built a life for themselves you can publish a podcast/write a book’ or whatever other task I am talking myself out of!  It’s the quiet knowledge of knowing everything I do needs to move the needle forward for anyone who comes after me, whether that be my nieces, students or anyone else for that matter.

I didn’t understand the value of representation until I met a woman who was a complete Powerhouse and my manager in a job I was doing to tie me over until I started my PGCE. Looking back she was the first strong Indian woman I had seen absolutely smash expectations in her job and have a great family life. She helped me visualise a future I didn’t even know I was looking for. It’s funny because at the time I didn’t realise it and it’s only in hindsight that I see she had broadened my parameters. And that’s what representation does. It broadens the way people see themselves, what their future could look like. 

In this episode we talk about the value of representation in school and what we need to do in order to be more inclusive and allow our staff to feel more comfortable to speak up and feel counted. We have the privilege of being joined by Adrian McLean who eloquently demonstrates that if we want our young people to feel counted, confident and heard we have to start with our staff. He encourages us to check our biases be self reflective and honest. I hope you enjoy it. I hope you take some time to reflect and I hope you carry forward its message in the new academic year.

You can find our Podcast on Apple podcasts and Spotify or here

Does the current school system allow us to solve complicated problems?

Deep work is the ability to focus, without distraction, on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time.“

When talking about Deep Work in this blog I’ll be referring to the above definition by Cal Newport as mentioned in his wonderful book of the same name. 

Honestly, I was sceptical about his book when it first came out. ‘He’s obviously never worked in a school’ was my immediate reaction. But during this challenging year when we have gone from one teams meeting to another, I have had to start questioning whether there is a better way to organise and use time whilst at school. My first thoughts around this came when the PISA 2012 report was published and then, when a few years later a colleague had got funding to see how maths was taught in China. Both the report and feedback from the visit mentioned the critical role of co-planning and thinking time for teachers as a key element in enabling effective classroom delivery.

Why is it necessary in schools?

Schools are often reaction zones, overseeing hundreds if not 1000s of student needs a day.  Safeguarding concerns can’t wait, poor behaviour in the classroom must be dealt with immediately rather than allowing it to affect others etc..

However, education is not short of big challenging questions!  

  • How do we equip students for a workplace that is consistently shifting?
  • How do we close attainment gaps between groups of students?
  • How do we make our curriculum more representative and diverse?

These are just a few.

Even if many of these are addressed in the run up to an academic year they often need to be monitored to see if actions are having the desired affect and more often than not tweaked.

Staff, from senior through to classroom staff rarely get the time needed for deep work to solve big problems such as these. 

What does Cal Newport suggest

There are different ways to accomplish deep work – whereas some people consistently avoid distractions by refusing to engage in email for instance, others may block out a few days to do this. Bill Gates famously would take a bag of books to a cabin for two weeks a year to just think through problems. Most in education don’t have this luxury so I started looking at other methods. The bimodal method (1 day of uninterrupted deep work) or rhythmic (90 minutes) seemed more reasonable. But seriously when was the last time you had 90 minutes of uninterrupted time at work?

What does this mean?

If teaching staff or leadership want to think deeply about problems it is often in their own time, weekends or holidays. The downside of this, besides the obvious that they are eating into what should be their down time (another element Newport suggests is very important to schedule in so people can think clearly) is that they cannot do this with colleagues, so often solving a problem collectively is a no go, which later creates issues with buy in. A lack of opportunity for deep work in education often leads to quick solutions being implemented that have an equally quick life span.

Some ways in which schools have tried to find time for deep work

  • Involving planning in CPD – so longer but fewer CPD sessions (90 to 120 mins) that deliver information but allow depts to apply immediately within faculty areas.
  • Depts days covered by other staff – allowing a whole department to take a day to solve a problem and create a solution e.g. if their EAL students are not performing well to rework resources
  • Strict email policies – to avoid emails eating into blocks of time and creating a distraction rather than a smooth flow of communication
  • Extension of school days containing a mandatory hour of planning each day.

The fact of the matter is, the government is not about to hand over a chunk of money so we can employ more teachers allowing us more periods in which to allocate deep work. We will need to carve it out ourselves. Unfortunately, so far this has meant for many eating into their weekends which is something that needs to be addressed. However, I’m excited about the creative ways in which schools are finding time to solve the big questions.

To get a copy of Cal Newports book Deep work, which I’d highly recommend, click here.

Am I good enough?

It’s a question that haunts me continuously, and from conversations I’ve had with peers and friends, haunts a lot of other people too.

Am I good enough for the project I’m about to embark on? This job I want to apply for? Or have applied for? To have that opinion? To be in this meeting? This room? At the table?

Often we look for outside clues that we might be good enough. Our boss telling us what a great job we are doing? Some good results? A positive outcome? The problem is much of that is fickle. It depends on what type of boss we have, the project or the multiple factors that affect it. As a result our self esteem takes a rollercoaster ride, sometimes high, sometimes low because of these factors.

Many of us have a date with imposter syndrome, more often than we’d like. I recently watched a video by Ali Abdaal, a youtube star who made his mark by offering advice to medical students being a junior doctor himself. In one of his videos he speaks about Imposter Syndrome and says ‘The thing is, you are an imposter.’ And that stopped me in my tracks. It makes sense doesn’t it. If you’re trying something new, a project, job, task, you are an imposter, you’ve never done it before. But that doesn’t have to stop us. Maybe we just accept that.

This got me thinking, maybe the question isn’t ‘Am I good enough?’ but ‘Am I getting better?’ Every time I embark on something knew that doesn’t guarantee success am I trying to get better? Again this can be a fickle beast if we look for reassurance from the outside world but if we set personal indicators it is a lot better. For instance writing a book for the first time? Some methods to get better are to write more, set yourself word targets, get editing software and look at the changes it is suggesting for your text to know how you can improve your writing etc… Starting a new job? Look at the job description and set yourself targets that you yourself can feedback on, for example if raising the quality of teaching, support struggling staff, meet with them regularly, set clear targets for them and help them achieve these, buddy them up with someone who demonstrates the skill set they are trying to develop. Often by helping others we feel good enough too.

So as I embark on branching out and trying projects beyond teaching my new question is ‘Am I getting better.’ And I’ll be the judge of that.

Is it worth going to university?

Twenty or so years ago a university education would have guaranteed you a well paid job. People with degrees were rare and so having a degree level qualification to your name would make you stand out at the very least and get your foot in through the door.

Fast forward to 2021 and the landscape is very different.

A paper by Universities UK  titled ‘Patterns and Trends in UK Higher Education’ published in 2018 shows the growing number of University students since 2009 (see chart below).  

I do not think it is a bad thing that these numbers are growing, some of this is down to the great work put in by universities to reach out to a broader audience of students and encourage them to attend university where they may not have traditionally considered it. Young people who are the first in their families to go to university. I myself, was one of these people.

Yet, with more recent figures claiming that half of all 18 year olds go to university and as the scarcity of people walking around with degrees is reduces, it begs the question, is it worth it?  Considering that they may not make you stand out any more it is a valid question. Add to that the growing costs of tuition fees, housing etc.. and alternatives to university being pushed by the government, are students better off opting for alternatives?

I find myself having this discussion with my A Level students each year. May of them come in with a mindset that University degrees are more valuable than an apprenticeship and it’s only when we dig deeper that they see the value in apprenticeships rather than dated ideas about them.

So is it worth going to university?

There are a number of ways we can answer the question.

One is to look at the earning potential of degree courses, if students are completing a degree, what they will gain out of it financially.

The government published a a fascinating paper on this in November 2018 called ‘The impact of undergraduate degrees on early-career earnings.’ In it they highlight:

“Not all degrees are the same, and subject choice appears to be a very important determinant of returns. For men, studying creative arts, English or philosophy actually result in lower earnings on average at age 29 than people with similar background characteristics who did not go to HE at all. By contrast, studying medicine or economics appears to increase earnings by more than 20%. For women, there are no subjects that have negative average returns, and studying economics or medicine increases their age 29 earnings by around 60%.”

I would encourage anyone interested in this area to read the whole paper, particularly to highlight the difference in pre HE characteristics e.g. higher attainment and background which also has an impact on earnings.

In December 2019 FE news published the highest and lowest earning degrees in the UK 5 years after graduating.

The highest earning degrees were:

Lowest earning degrees were:  

I think the above also raises questions about how we value different career choices in our society and in our markets. But should we base going to university on its financial benefits alone? Personally I don’t think so.

We know our young people don’t just complete degrees for earning potential. Many pursue subjects that they have a passion for or that lead them to careers they aspire to be in. Unfortunately, there is no data to show this (unless you are looking for satisfaction results by institution rather than degree level).

With a growing emphasis on degree level apprenticeships and the new T Levels however we do need to question whether students would be getting an equally valuable experience out of these rather than a degree. Again with many of them being so new data is hard to find to answer this question.

The Incomes Data Research Centre published some interesting research about the starting hourly rate of degrees vs apprenticeships in July 2019 and compared it to National Minimum Wage. Their findings are summarised below:

However, they did note:

“Despite the attractive pay on offer for apprentices, the study has found that graduates are more likely than apprentices to complete their training in full, possibly due to the development opportunities and status offered by such programmes, suggesting that recruits to graduate programmes perhaps have greater longevity with the same employer. Whether this changes as the number of degree-apprentices increases remains to be seen.”

So the conclusion?

This isn’t an easy question to answer. Higher education is about more than just earning potential (although that is important for our young people) and much of the softer data doesn’t exist. Whether students pick degrees or apprentices depends on how well they understand themselves and those around them understand them and can advise them.

I’m pleased to say I have seen some of my phenomenal students go to the most prestigious universities, others be the first ones to complete university degrees in their families and yet others complete apprenticeships at companies such as Rolls Royce, Google and KPMG. Each one chose their path based on what they felt was important to them in terms of style of learning, exposure to industry, lifestyle, location and many more factors. I was privileged to help them navigate through these complex questions. I was surprised how many came in with their parents with negative connotations towards apprenticeships and a preference for degrees and changed their minds once they recognised what alternatives to traditional degrees could offer.

Although I can’t offer a single response to the question I can for certain say that the conversation around this needs to continue with our young people and their parents for them to make the right decisions for themselves. 

Some sources of information mentioned above:




Debit, Credit and Credit Scores

In a world where Klarna means that young people are more readily getting credit from their favourite stores, stores are offering you a store card when you go to check out for an item and Apple Pay and contactless mean you barley ever exchange cash for an item it is fair to say our young people have a different relationship to money then we did. This makes it all the more necessary to teach our students about Credit, Debit and the impact of their shopping habits on their credit scores for the future.

On a personal note, I can still remember an intervention me and a housemate had to stage for a friend in our second year of university. Her credit card spending was out of control and we could see her spiralling into debt. The intervention included cutting up her credit card so she would only spend money on her debit card. Looking back at it it was quite a mature thing to do, as we could quite easily just have admired her new clothes and laptop. I was lucky to have a group of friends I could discuss my financial health with. Our students might not be.

According to The Money Charity in February 2021 Credit card debt averaged £1962 per household and £1032 per adult. They also noted that a credit card on the average interest would take 24 years and 5 months to repay making only the minimum repayments each month.

I’m loathed to say Credit cards are bad. Because they really aren’t. There are purchases on which I would absolutely use them. Buying flights for instance which are automatically insured via the credit card company. Always helpful when stranded in an airport after numerous flight cancellations (I’m speaking from experience). They are also important to build up a credit score.

The resources this week highlight:

  • The difference between debit and credit
  • Interest rates
  • How your credit rating is developed
  • The importance of a credit ratings
  • Where to use your credit and debit cards.

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