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Education: Early lessons in thrift at C of E school

06 February 2015

Margaret Holness visits a primary-school savings scheme in south London 


Nest-egg: Frankie Lyon shows his savings book, while Princess Achempoag, a Year 6 pupil helps Jacky Sutcliffe at Holy Trinity C of E School

Nest-egg: Frankie Lyon shows his savings book, while Princess Achempoag, a Year 6 pupil helps Jacky Sutcliffe at Holy Trinity C of E School

WHEN, last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury proposed a national network of primary-school savings clubs, with C of E schools in the vanguard, he might have heard a loud "Amen" from Tulse Hill, south London. There, at Holy Trinity C of E Primary School, a junior savings club has been flourishing for seven years.

Since it started, about 100 of the school's 420 pupils have joined the club. Every Tuesday, Jacky Sutcliffe, the community worker at Holy Trinity near by, is at the school by 8.30 a.m. - often helped by a couple of Year 6 "apprentices" - to take the cash and fill in the savers' bank books for amounts that can vary between 20 pence and £5. Often on hand is Abana Bio-Genfi, who had children at the school, and now has a grandchild there. She has supported the scheme since it started.

Later that morning, Mrs Sutcliffe pays in the morning's haul at the Brixton branch of the London Mutual Credit Union, which encourages junior savers by paying them a kids-only dividend (this year, it is five per cent) on their accounts. Some of the children, she says, are saving with a goal in mind, for Christmas or for holidays, while others just like seeing their balance grow.

"Our children are really eager to save, and it's a good habit to get into," the deputy head, Lorran Black, says.

The head, Lascelles Haughton, sees understanding money as a basic life-skill, essential to Christian stewardship. Last month, the school ran an enterprise week. Each class was given £20, and was asked to use it wisely. The most enterprising made a profit of £50.

The club was one of three started in schools as an offshoot of the community work at Holy Trinity, but is the only one that has been successful in the long term. The Vicar of Holy Trinity, the Revd Richard Dormandy, is also a governor at the school.

The church is a centre for Christians Against Poverty (CAP), and runs a CAP-backed debt-relief scheme. At any one time, between 50 and 70 clients are taking part in the relief scheme, Mr Dormandy says; over the past four years, he has seen 35 clients become debt-free.

He hopes that taking part in the junior savings club will ensure that some children never get into debt in the first place.

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