Shifting the dial on financial literacy

Talking Cents with Ollie ignites lively money chats and learning in St Joseph’s CBS Primary, Marino, Dublin.

In recent research commissioned by Bank of Ireland it was revealed that only 38% (Red C) of 18-to-34 year-olds in Ireland feel in control of their finances. 

At Bank of Ireland, we have been working consistently to shift the dial in a more positive direction when it comes to the important topic of financial literacy and wellbeing.  Not just for young and more mature adults, but most significantly, through our youth financial literacy programmes available in both primary; Talking Cents with Ollie and secondary schools; Money Smarts.  

“It’s good to learn this stuff now because we’ll need it when we’re older”

Learning about money when you’re young is critical. And through these educational programmes, we are committed to laying the fundamental foundations for greater financial literacy learning so that hopefully, in time, 100% of all Young Adults feel that they can be confident about all things money. 

Positive learning

We’re encouraged that school engagement with these financial literacy programmes is increasing year on year. But the greatest validation of their worth comes when those directly impacted, have positive experiences to share.

So, when Tracey Traynor, an Irish primary school teacher, got in touch to tell us how much her six students enjoyed engaging with The Talking Cents with Ollie financial literacy programme created for primary schools in the Republic of Ireland, we of course wanted to know more.  And who better to talk to than the students themselves.

Our visit took us to St Joseph’s CBS in Marino, Dublin.  At over 130 years old, it is one of north Dublin’s most famous schools, well known within the local community. A DEIS (Delivering Equality of Opportunity in Schools) school, its current principal Kevin Gillen cites values such as ‘reaching for the horizon’ and a growth mindset as key to student learning and success. Those values were certainly evident in spades during our visit.   

With the classroom walls and window sills adorned with a bright display of colourful Ollie the Owl face masks, games and skillfully made finger puppets, we were greeted enthusiastically when the six boys returned to their classroom after yard break with their teacher Tracey. 

Once settled in to their seats, they were poised with their questions, raising their arms high to secure air time, eager to share their opinions and observations confidently about the wide variety of money topics covered in the Talking Cents with Ollie lesson plans, what they had learned and how it applied to their young lives.  

Financial literacy in action 

With pride in their knowledge, these pre-teens talked, with great animation, about the importance of paying your Taxes and how Exchange Rates affect the value of your money depending on where you travel.  In a lively debate around Spenders versus Savers, there was heightened awareness for the discipline that is needed when it comes to spending on Needs versus Wants, particularly when it comes to having tech such as iPhones and game consoles, with an appreciation that the latest model isn’t always necessary when an older one will often do, and the money saved can go towards something else or back in to your saving pot. 

“The content, based on the 6 Pillars of Financial Wellbeing, is comprehensive and the language used in each lesson is so relevant to these young students”

Valuable lessons had been learned too about the 50 30 20 Rule of Budgeting.  As an exercise, Tracey their teacher, had given each student a fictional budget of €1,000 which they had to manage. Demonstrating great entrepreneurial spirit, the boys took it upon themselves to design and produce  a new Budget Planner on which they tracked their spending history, with designated columns to indicate date and description of spend and their actions subsequent impact on their final, fictional €1,000 budget.

Listening as they each talked through their Budget Planner detail, some spent more wisely than others with hundreds spent on online games and other popular toys.  But the learning for all on the importance of budgeting and managing your spend, was the same. 

Top marks for simplicity

For Tracey, as a teacher, she appreciated the accessibility and simplicity of the Talking Cents with Ollie lesson plans. “I genuinely think it’s one of the better things we’ve done recently.  I received all 6 lesson plans by email as soon as I had registered for the programme. The content, based on the 6 Pillars of Financial Wellbeing, is really comprehensive and the language used in each lesson is so relevant to these young students.”

With six lesson plans in total, each covering a different money topic, Tracey worked it in to her teaching schedule. “We worked through a different lesson each week for six weeks.

“Keeping the boys focused was never an issue”, she recalled. “When we did the first lesson, the boys were very engaged with the content and they really enjoyed learning about Foreign Exchange. Question 2 on page 6 on Bartering really got the conversation going!

“I found it so handy to instantly print each lesson off. As a group we would sit down at our round table together and work through each lesson plan, answering all the questions and working through the exercises. In my view, Talking Cents with Ollie is so valuable and the provision of these programmes in schools in our communities is so necessary.  It’s such an accessible and fun way to teach these young kids about money now to ensure they have greater money confidence in the future. I’d highly recommend other primary school teachers explore this content with their young students.”

Main image at top: Teacher Tracey Traynor with students from Room 16, St Joseph’s CBS Primary, Marino Park, Fairview, Dublin

  • To find out more about Bank of Ireland Financial Literacy progammes visit Bank of Ireland
  • Primary school teachers can sign up for the Talking Cents with Ollie programme by visiting Bank of Ireland and selecting Primary school programme

To view a sample lesson plan:

Lesson 1, The Evolution of Money
Bank of Ireland Youth Banking
Submitted by Bank of Ireland Youth Banking. Delivering and championing school and student engagement with Bank of Ireland’s Youth Financial Literacy Programmes in Ireland; Talking Cents with Ollie for Primary Schools and Money Smarts for Secondary Schools.