Learning the A-Z of finances

As part of St Margaret’s historical commitment to “educating the whole child”, the school has recognised a need for students to be armed with the financial literacy and other practical life skills to prepare them for life beyond the school gates. The resulting program, Beyond the Panama, takes its name for the school’s iconic uniform hat.

From applying for a tax file number and money management skills including opening a bank account, to superannuation, tips on renting and how to vote, the Beyond the Panama program aims to provide students in Years 10 to 12 with a breadth of practical knowledge and important life skills.

St Margaret’s secondary teacher Hetal Raniga, who is passionate about helping girls achieve financial independence, is spearheading the Beyond the Panama program.

“Financial literacy is a big part of the program because this is an area where there is a gap in the girls’ knowledge.

“It is an opportunity to teach our girls the importance of managing their finances so that they can be independent young women in control of their lives.

“Delving into financial literacy at a young age ensures that by the time our students enter the workforce and start earning, they are equipped with the knowledge and capability to manage their finances with confidence,” said Hetal.

The program is designed to run across the three years from Years 10 to 12, progressively building on each topic, each year.

The response from the students has been positive, recognising what they are learning now will help them later in life.

"I have found Beyond the Panama to be really rewarding in learning basic life skills needed outside of school. It is an especially helpful program to ensure confidence in my abilities to be self-sufficient
beyond school,” said Year 11 student Mary Kinross.

Year 12 student Harriet Couchman-Frame said: “Beyond the Panama is a very resourceful program which taught me a lot about financial planning for when I leave school and start working. I have enjoyed practising making budgets and learning about writing resumes, and how to cut down on costs when I am older. I feel the skills which I have learnt in this program in the first session have already set me up to be proficient in managing my finances when I leave home.”

Amelia McDonald, also in Year 12, said: “Beyond the Panama was an insightful opportunity to be granted at this stage in our schooling life. It definitely highlighted the importance of budgeting and dealing with income in a responsible way, as well as the savvy tips for writing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) which will be key to successfully adjusting to life beyond the St Margaret’s gates.”

The topics to be covered will also include nutrition, effective communication, consumer rights, establishing financial goals and mindfulness.

The program will be delivered by a combination of St Margaret’s teaching staff and real-world experts brought in to share their knowledge and industry expertise. Kimberley Middlemis, Managing Partner at Adrian’s Chartered Accountants (who are a school partner) has already presented to students on topics including CV writing tips, interview tips, budgeting and savings.

For 10 students, the program is run fortnightly during lunchtimes, while Years 11 and 12 students engage in these sessions as part of their Pastoral Care Program.