Thom Kenrick, Head of Social Strategy & Impact at NatWest Group, describes how starting with the basics have led to an award-winning financial education program for kids.
Why did you decide to launch a financial literacy program? Is this something that was missing from the school curriculum?
NatWest originally launched their “Face2Face with Finance” program in 1994. Over the last 27 years, the program has been expanded, updated, and rebranded many times to become the digital-first MoneySense program that exists today. Financial literacy is an essential skill for everyone to learn, with studies showing that financial behaviors can be formed by the age of 7. We’ve come a long way in the UK since 1994 – for example, financial education is now on the curriculum for all UK nations at secondary school , and increasingly being included in the primary curriculum. Programs like MoneySense provide vital content (including lessons, worksheets, articles, games, videos, and workshops) to help teachers and parents to help kids learn about money.
Designing a game is a real challenge. Can you tell me more about the main challenges you faced in making Island Saver? And did you get help from game professionals?
Island Saver came about because we knew we wanted to break financial education out of the classroom and put it in kids’ hands in an immersive way. The main challenge was that no banks had done this before, so everything was new. We also knew a challenge would be making a game that people want to play. Previous games that try to teach people about money have tended to be dull and so had limited appeal. We wanted to go “fun first” and we partnered with award-winning Scottish games developer, StormCloud, to create the game itself and make sure we had the right expertise on board throughout. They were brilliant and made sure we didn’t think like bankers! We then tested our ideas at every stage – from concept, to first demo, to full levels, to the final game – with kids to make sure they found it fun, and that they were understanding the learning points. We were delighted with the results and got great feedback after launch, with scores of over 4/5 in all the stores.