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In 2017, The Money Charity commissioned the NFER Education Trials Unit to provide an independent evaluation of its ‘Money Workshops’, financial education sessions for Key Stage 4 and post-16 students that aim to increase students’ confidence, knowledge and skills relating to money matters.

Why an evaluation was needed?

Funded by Money Advice Service’s ‘What Works Fund’, The Money Charity sought the help of the NFER Education Trials Unit to more rigorously explore the impact of its intervention on students. Previous research involving pre- and post-workshop surveys with students found the Money Workshops to be highly enjoyable, with students’ self-reporting increased confidence in managing their money, increased knowledge of savings and credit, and more positive views on the importance of budgeting following workshops (Sterling Research, 2015). However the existing research did not use a control group to compare outcomes with, meaning any results may have occurred irrespective of the intervention. NFER set about providing more robust evidence that explored the causal impact of the Money Workshops on students’ behaviour, attitudes, confidence and knowledge relating to managing money, as well as further research into perceptions of the quality and effectiveness of the workshops, and what helped the workshops to run in schools.

What was involved in the evaluation?

During the autumn term 2017 and spring term 2018, 109 Money Workshops were delivered to a total of 4,423 students across 25 intervention schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The evaluation involved a school-level randomised controlled trial (RCT), whereby schools that signed up to the trial were randomly allocated to either the intervention group (with workshops in autumn term 2017 and early spring term 2018) or the control group (as part of a waitlist design, with workshops in spring 2018 after they had completed a follow-up survey). A total of 59 schools took part in the trial, 30 intervention schools and 29 acting as controls; with baseline and follow up surveys used to explore whether The Money Workshops made a difference to students’ behaviours and attitudes towards money. A process evaluation was also conducted involving survey questions for intervention students, a survey of teachers, workshop observations, telephone interviews with consultants; and school visits with interviews and focus groups.

What were the results?

Although the trial found no significant effects on students’ behaviours relating to money (the primary outcome for the trial), Money Workshops were found to be effective at improving: students’ self-reported confidence in managing money; how much students’ feel they know about savings and credit; and how much students’ feel they know about planning and budgeting. These significant positive outcomes are impressive given that most students took part in just one one-hour workshop. It may be that a longer period is needed to observe behavioural effects. 

How have the findings been used?

As a result of the evaluation, in particular the finding that teachers felt more able to deliver financial education themselves as a result of observing the workshops, The Money Charity has decided to pilot further teacher support options. Although teacher development wasn’t an intended outcome, The Money Charity is now developing simple additional interventions that could have an even greater impact on teachers’ abilities to deliver effective financial education. They are currently exploring options to pilot such as a telephone helpline, an email support service and face-to-face consultation sessions with teachers after workshops about how they can deliver effective financial education.

The Money Charity has also reviewed and adapted its workshop content in light of the findings from the evaluation. For example, which content is recommended for which age groups based on feedback from the focus groups.

Having undergone the evaluation with NFER, The Money Charity is now one of the few financial education providers who can offer this level of robust evidence behind their intervention. This has benefitted the organisation in its fundraising as well as the promotion of the workshops to schools and other organisations.

More information about the Money Charity evaluation, including the full report, can be found here.