The Australian Security and Investments Commission (ASIC) says it is “critical to start financial education at a young age and school is the most effective place for this learning to occur”.

With this in mind, Narranga Public School’s Nicola Chaffey is in a unique position to drive this in her own school.

Having forged a successful 10-year career at a big accounting firm in Sydney’s CBD, 15 years ago Chaffey switched to primary school teaching and brought with her a treasure trove of experience and knowledge.

“What I learnt there [at the accounting firm], was the different ways that the ‘rich’ look after their money,” Chaffey says.

Now in her fifth year at the school, and at present the relieving principal, Chaffey was last year awarded the Premier’s First State Super Financial Literacy Scholarship.

The $15,000 scholarship has funded study into ‘starting young: an international study of successful primary school financial literacy programs’, which has involved Chaffey visiting world-leading schools and centres of education in the US and China.

“It is really important to understand the Asian perspective on teaching financial literacy, as these are our largest trading partners,” she says.

A model used in the region to address the lack of teacher confidence in finance will operate a partnership between business and schools.

“JA Worldwide is an organisation that is dedicated to addressing fundamental social and economic challenges of young people by educating and empowering them to transform their future and own their economic success,” she says.

Chaffey spoke to JA representatives in Hong Kong and Shanghai who impressed her with their roles as bridge builders between businesses and schools.

In the United States, she saw that the global financial crisis has meant that hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in boosting financial literacy skills.

Here in Australia, her advice to schools looking to help students is to utilise resources already provided by government.

“The first thing every Australian teacher (or parent) can do is to go to ASIC’s MoneySmart Teaching website.

“It is an incredible resource aimed at building a broad strategy to build consumer and financial literacy capabilities in young Australians,” Chaffey says.

Narranga PS is already enjoying the benefits of the scholarship.

“By the end of the term, I will be moving into my Instructional Leader role here at Narranga, where I will be working with our teachers and students to develop skills in financial literacy and problem solving.”