Making Money Real - working with vulnerable young people

This project worked directly with 21 pupil referral units in eight local authorities over a three-year period with each pupil referral unit receiving  up to six days of direct support from a pfeg consultant over an academic year to assist the units’ teachers to deliver personal finance education.

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The project
September 2004 to December 2007
Project brief: 
The project aimed to develop skills and confidence in teachers to deliver a sustainable programme in financial education. Pupils in each of the Pupil Referal Units engaged in a programme which aimed to raise confidence, improve levels of knowledge and be focused upon a relevant programme of practical activity. A principal outcome to the project was guidance for all Pupil Referral Units in England and those mainstream secondary schools which have pupils of similar character.
The funding
Funded by: 
Funder brief: 
pfeg were asked to develop a project targeted at vulnerable young people in England. This group is located in establishments often called Pupil Referral Units (PRU) which contain a selection of the most disadvantaged students in state education. Pupils are placed in the Units when it is considered they need specialist support covering short to long term periods. The pupils display a range of emotional and behavioural difficulties and often have fractured backgrounds causing them to be at considerable risk. The project aimed to work with 300 pupils and 60 teachers in 20 Units across England in locations reflecting a range of social and economic conditions.

Pupil referral units (PRUs) are short-stay centres for pupils who are educated outside mainstream or special schools. They admit pupils with behavioural difficulties and others who can be identified as vulnerable because of their health or social and emotional difficulties. However, they vary considerably in size and function. Some educate and support school-age mothers and pregnant schoolgirls, for example; others cater for school-phobics, children with medical problems or pupils waiting to be placed in a mainstream or special school.

Despite their differences, PRUs face similar challenges to mainstream schools. Although PRUs do not have to provide a full national curriculum, they should offer a basic curriculum which includes English, mathematics, sciences, PSHE  education and ICT. PRUs often have to deliver this with a limited number of specialist staff and inadequate accommodation. Staff have to develop teaching and learning strategies that are effective for young people with a diverse range of learning needs, who often join or leave the unit with little notice.

An Ofsted report* at the time found that successful pupil referral units (PRUs) have a lot in common. The staff have high expectations for their students and offer them a second chance, or fresh start. The emphasis is on a well-designed curriculum that allows students to improve their basic skills and re-engage them in learning through interesting experiences, emphasising personal and social development.

Personal finance education clearly has a vital role here. The work involved diverse groups of young people who were very interested in money and recognised its relevance to their lives. The project objectives included:

  • raising the confidence and technical capability of teachers in delivering personal finance education
  • creating a positive and rewarding experience for students
  • helping teachers to develop relevant and motivating activities
  • identifying and creating links with community partners
  • modelling approaches that may be useful with young people at risk of permanent exclusion from schools.

Order or download the 'Making Money Real' good practice guide