These children will shape the economy of the future and they’re learning through drama

Over the last four years, we’ve taken our A Wealth of Stages project – designed to develop financial literacy through drama – to children in some of the most deprived areas of London. We’ve just finished a project at Tyssen Community Primary School in Hackney led by our artists James Baldwin, co-founder of Function Theatre, and Ellen Havard who is currently working on a highly anticipated production of Jane Eyre at the National Theatre. The project began in June when the students aged 10 and 11 joined us on a trip to the Bank of England Museum. There, they learned about inflation and the economy as well as the story of the historic bank, and exercised their creativity as they set about sketching the neo-classical architecture. They drew up their own designs for £5 notes and even discussed what they would do if they had their very own bar of gold. When they returned to Hackney, the children took part in two financial workshops, introducing them to the concepts of “needs versus wants,” charitable giving and saving. Using what they had learned, they collaborated to write original scripts under the expert guidance of our artists. One of the groups developed a play in which a boy borrowed money from a loan shark in order to go on holiday to Barbados, coming up with a plot that featured a team of ninjas! The Speaker 2 After a week of creativity and fun, the students at Tyssen Community Primary School performed their dramatic pieces for an audience of family and friends, as well as special guest Cllr Sade Etti, Speaker of Hackney Council. One of the students who took part in A Wealth of Stages said, “I learnt a lot about money. Like how, in the olden days, things used to cost less than they do now. And I learnt what interest is and what a loan is. When I go to the high street, I see loan shops and I didn’t know what they were but now I do.” Another student said, “I have learned how to perform in front of an audience without getting stage fright. I used to be very shy but, because of the workshops, I’ve outgrown that. Sharing my opinions made me feel brave.” Many of the young people explained that they now have an increased understanding of different banking options; awareness of the importance of saving; and greater understanding of the positive/negative implications of spending choices.