MoneyNonsense: RBS, out of our schools! You are not a fit and proper institution to teach children about money.

MoneyNonSense

The Royal Bank of Scotland teaches Scottish children about money management, but it has an appalling record on human rights and the environment, reflected in its Ethiscore of only 1.5 out of a possible 20, and played a major role in precipitating the economic crisis. It is surely not a fit and proper organisation to teach Scottish children about money and should be denied this whitewashing/advertising opportunity. Join me in calling on the Scottish Government to draw up strict criteria for who should have direct access to children in our public institutions.

[Update on Monday 4 June 2012:  The RBS MoneySense reception in the Scottish Parliament has now taken place, but MSPs representing three political parties – Labour, the SNP and the Scottish Greens – have all expressed misgivings about RBS teaching Scottish schoolchildren about money.  The Scottish Greens even had a representative expressing concern at the reception itself.  I have attached the responses of MSPs as comments at the foot of this article.  Please write to at least one of your MSPs on this issue if you haven’t already done so. but, obviously, leave out the reference to the parliamentary reception in the suggested email below.  …And please also consider signing this petition to get Scotmid to bank with a more ethical institution than RBS!  You can see photographs of some of the fun campaigning myself and others have been doing lately on the Occupy Free Radicals site.]

As part of a wider campaign against unethical banking (see this petition to get Scotmid to bank ethically), I have just emailed my MSP as below. If you agree with what I say, why not copy this email and send it to one of your MSPs? You can find your MSPs’ contact details by entering your postcode here.

Dear _

I am writing to you, my parliamentary representative, about an issue that, I believe, goes to the heart of what is wrong with our society. I am dismayed that the Scottish Government allows the Royal Bank of Scotland, through its MoneySense programme (http://rbsmoneysense.co.uk/schools/), access to our schoolchildren.

RBS has an appalling record on human rights and the environment, reflected in its abysmally low Ethiscore of 1.5 out 20 (see http://www.moveyourmoney.org.uk/what-about-my-bank and click on the RBS link for details) and an equally bad record of financial mismanagement. Indeed, many believe that it contributed significantly to the present economic crisis (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/4578546/Bank-bosses-from-RBS-and-HBOS-apologise-for-crisis-that-led-to-37billion-bail-out.html).  It is surely not a fit and proper institution to teach Scottish children about money. If any external organisations should be allowed to teach children about money in our schools (questionable in itself) then it should, I contend, be Move Your Money UK (http://www.moveyourmoney.org.uk/) and Positive Money (http://www.positivemoney.org.uk/).

Quite apart from the content of RBS’s MoneySense programme, I feel that by allowing this dubious institution into our schools the Scottish Government is effectively endorsing it and allowing it effectively to advertise itself to our children. This whitewashing/greenwashing/advertising opportunity should be withdrawn immediately.

I am asking you, as my MSP, to:

* raise my concerns with the relevant Scottish Government ministers, and
* boycott the upcoming RBS MoneySense reception in the Scottish Parliament and/or use it as an opportunity to raise these issues with RBS and the Scottish Government.

I look forward to your response.

Best regards

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About biowrite

I am a writer specialising in non-fiction, particularly in assisting people with their biographies.
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10 Responses to MoneyNonsense: RBS, out of our schools! You are not a fit and proper institution to teach children about money.

  1. biowrite says:

    Great news! At least one MSP is backing this campaign to get RBS out of our schools. A supporter has passed on Malcolm Chisholm’s response to her email:

    Thanks I agree it would be better if this was something done as part of the general curriculum rather than by a specific banking company. I shall write to the Cabinet secretary and won’t be attending the reception.

    Best wishes

    Malcolm Chisholm

  2. biowrite says:

    Another MSP supports this:

    I have lot of sympathy with what you say here. The record of RBS on a number of issues is not good. I won’t be at the RBS reception and believe that financial education in schools is best promoted by credit unions. The local credit union in my area does exceptional work in local schools. Thanks for getting in touch.

    Neil Findlay MSP for the Lothians

  3. biowrite says:

    Another MSP (Marco Biagi, the constituency MSP for Edinburgh Central) has now responded, expressing concerns about RBS’s ethics and stating that the Scottish Government does not endorse the bank:

    Thanks for your email. Let me just clarify one thing – there is no endorsement here. Organisations simply create materials and then promote them to schools. The government does not create an approved register or anything similar. Schools therefore have access to a wide range of resources produced by third parties, including large national charities. There are also plenty of public resources produced by Education Scotland on financial education. One you might be interested in revolves around credit unions: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/resources/c/creditunions.asp?strReferringChannel=learningteachingandassessment&strReferringPageID=tcm:4-628462-64. Teachers also share extensively their own lesson plans and resources through forums provided by their unions and the Times Educational Supplement Scotland.

    I haven’t seen the MoneySense materials in question, so I don’t know whether they cross the line into outright corporate advertising. I have to say that even those produced by charities whose worldview I share can be directly or indirectly self-promotional as well. If they do then I would have to say that like all corporate advertising they should not be welcome in schools. There is a fine line here however. Government interference in the classroom to the extent of controlling authorship of materials would be resisted by the teaching profession and their unions. I would have to say as a principle I would agree with them on that.

    I do share your wider concerns about RBS, and it pains me to see how they are managed given how many of my constituents make their livelihoods from working for them. It’s all the more galling given that the bank is now owned by the public. I’m not attending their reception.

    Yours
    Marco Biagi

  4. mikeferrigan says:

    No response from the Greens yet? I’ve emailed them.

  5. biowrite says:

    Just received this excellent response from Alison Johnstone MSP of the Scottish Green Party:

    Thank you for your email on the RBS MoneySense in the Scottish Parliament.

    I agree wholeheartedly that RBS is in no position to teach children in schools about sensible money management. The fact that they presided over the largest loss in UK corporate history, their poor ethical record and position as a specialist financier of the fossil fuel industry, including unconventional fuels like tar sands, gives me no confidence their influence would be a positive one. More generally however I oppose any attempt by private corporations to access children through state education.

    Money managing skills are essential life skills and should be part of our syllabus, but RBS, or any private bank motivated by advertising to future potential customers, should not be allowed access to children at an impressionable age in a school setting.

    I was unable to attend the RBS event but a member of my staff did attend and raised the issues above.

    Yours sincerely

    Alison

    Alison Johnstone MSP
    Scottish Green Party

  6. evie love says:

    Eric, Another valuable response.

    Dear Ms Murray,

    Thank you for your email dated 22nd May. I apologise for the delay in responding. I had not in any case planned to attend the reception on 30th May as I was only recently back from a long spell in hospital. I can well understand your concern and will raise the subject with the appropriate Ministers.

    Yours sincerely

    Margo MacDonald MSP

    • biowrite says:

      Brilliant, thanks!

      • biowrite says:

        Here’s the final reply from Margo MacDonald. Note that she will be meeting the RBS Communications Team!

        Dear Ms Murray,

        Thank you for your email to Margo MacDonald MSP, who has asked me to respond on her behalf.

        We have been in touch with the office of Dr Alasdair Allan, Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages to put forward your view on the MoneySense programme. The following reply was received:

        “Education Scotland and Scottish Government officials are aware of the programme and how it impacts on schools, with RBS sitting on the Scottish Financial Education Forum facilitated by Education School. However, the Government has no direct involvement in delivery or management of MoneySense. As you will be aware, Education Authorities and schools make their own decisions about which organisations or companies they work with to help them deliver financial capability within the school curriculum.”

        You do not say in your message whether you are resident in the City of Edinburgh, West Lothian or Midlothian so we are unaware whether or not you have approached your local authority to set out your opposition to the MoneySense programme being used in schools.

        Margo is in the process of organising a meeting with a member of the RBS communications team and will take the opportunity to discuss the issues you have raised on that occasion.

        Mary Blackford
        Secretary and
        Case Manager
        Office of Margo MacDonald MSP
        Room MG.02
        Scottish Parliament
        Edinburgh
        EH99 1SP

  7. biowrite says:

    Gavin Brown MSP wrote to Alasdair Allan (Minister for Learning, Science and Scotland’s Languages) and received this response, which he passed to the constituent who wrote to him on this issue. Here is the Minster’s letter:

    Dear Gavin

    Thank you for your e-mail of 7 June to Mike Russell MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, concerning a letter you have received from a constituent about the RBS MoneySense programme for schools. I am replying as my Ministerial portfolio responsibilities include financial education as part of the school curriculum.

    The development of financial capability is embedded in the outcomes and experiences that underpin Curriculum for Excellence. Education Scotland and Scottish Government officials are aware of MoneySense and how it impacts on schools, with RBS sitting on the Scottish Financial Education Forum facilitated by ES. This Forum brings together Local Authority representatives and stakeholders from a range of organisations, including Skills Development Scotland and Scottish Financial Enterprise, to help co-ordinate efforts on financial education. The Government has no direct involvement in the management or delivery of the MoneySense programme.

    Schools and their Education Authorities are free to make their own decisions about which organisations or companies they work with to help them deliver financial capability within the curriculum. In terms of product branding, I understand that when MoneySense is delivered in schools it is promoted as an impartial interactive free resource. The programme has also been independently evaluated, While teachers will always be at the front line of delivery of the school curriculum, I believe that the financial sector in Scotland, including RBS, provides a significant and valuable addition to learning and teaching resources which could not easily be replicated by schools.

    ALASDAIR ALLAN

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