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The 26th of May marks National Thank a Teacher Day, celebrating schools, colleges, teachers and support staff.

MyBnk are proud to work with hundreds of teachers each year through our expert-led money programmes.

To mark the occasion, we caught up with Darren Collins, Interactive Investor’s personal finance teacher of the year 2020, qualified Financial Adviser and MyBnk fundraiser, to talk all things teaching, financial education and financial freedom.

So Darren, why do you enjoy teaching?

The thing that drives me the most is the chance to help young people achieve their potential. I aim to give students the confidence, belief, and motivation to overcome obstacles and think bigger than they may have done when first walking into my classroom at the beginning of the academic year. I have always taught with the philosophy: if I can and have done this, so can you!

And why is financial education so important?

As a former PE teacher and Football Coach, I always got so much from giving young people the chance to be the best footballer/ sportsperson they could be. This included working with Chelsea FC Ladies up to 2015, and then setting up a Football Academy. However, as great as these experiences were, coaching or teaching football/sport at an elite level involves serving a specific niche: young people who already have some athletic talent and desire to improve.
Financial Education on the other hand affects everyone, and is a topic which has only started to gain traction in the last 10 years – I am part of a generation where financial education was never really on the curriculum. When I realised it was still a growing subject in schools, that sparked the motivation and encouraged me to pivot from PE to Finance.
Finance in some shape or form affects everyone in different ways. Good financial education in schools not only provides students the chance to gain qualifications. More importantly, it prepares young people for adult life. I believe having a better understanding of finance helps young people gain independence and freedom of choice, and provides a form of security for the future.
Why is money still a taboo subject and what can we do to overcome this?
If you talk to younger people, I think the taboo around money is reducing, with social media bringing the subject into the public domain. Coming from a working class background, and growing up in the late 70s to early 90s, I always felt that money was viewed negatively. I often heard comments such as ‘money brings out the worst in people’ or ‘I hate it when money gets involved’, to the point where some people or families who had done well for themselves were suspected of doing something shady to achieve this!
Traditionally money has provided a scoring system for people to compare themselves to others. What you earn and the material items that you own or wear provide a social signal. If you are someone that feels that they do not earn a lot/enough, or have made poor financial decisions in the past, this is not something that you will want to share with people. Although social pressure is a factor behind the taboo, having money conversations with trusted individuals or groups can help tackle it.
What does financial freedom mean to you?
For me, financial freedom means the ability to be able to make independent decisions, and be able to take full responsibility for your future self, whilst being able to achieve/experience all the great things life has to offer. Again, this does not necessarily mean you have to be a multi-millionaire, but it could mean having to make some early financial sacrifices and adopt lifestyle choices to achieve this.
For example, I love travelling. However, if I always stayed in the best five-star hotels I would never have been able to travel so widely.
And finally, is there a moment in your mind where you have seen the tangible impact of teaching financial education?
A key moment was when 13 students in my classes used their Child Trust Fund to invest, rather than spending in Bluewater and Lakeside! And seeing students rush to sign up to the help to buy ISA before it stopped taking new applicants.
Finally, a huge thank you to all the teachers we work with – we couldn’t do it without you!
Darren is currently training for an Iron Man Challenge in aid of MyBnk. You can support him here.