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Ranzau Primary School

Ranzau is a decile 9 contributing primary school, located in a rural environment, south of Richmond in the South Island. There are 180 students.

We decided on a whole school inquiry approach for this study. As a school we have made a commitment to this approach as we feel it has many benefits for student learning.

We used our own ‘inquiry model’ that is implemented throughout the whole school. Our model is linked with our school vision and the key competencies. Our inquiry model consists of five parts: getting started, questioning, finding out, answering, and evaluating. We have placed school targets around inquiry learning for the last two years. This has familiarised both staff and students with our inquiry process and how to use it effectively to enhance learning.

Each term the whole school does the same inquiry topic. Each syndicate modifies the topic to best meet the needs of the students at the relevant level.


We looked at the needs of the school and noticed that we had a lot of lost property, sports gear left out, and missing library books. This led us to think that our students needed to better understand the value of money. To understand this concept our students need to become informed users of money.

Students and parents were surveyed to identify what specific outcomes needed to be focused on within this. Initially we thought we would steer students towards opening personal bank accounts, so they would be responsible for their own money. However, the survey showed that 86.4%, a vast majority of students surveyed, already had bank accounts. This was a strong indicator that we needed to take note of the survey results and change the focus. To achieve the aim of students understanding the value of money and becoming informed users of money, we decided that students needed to earn their own money and have goals to work towards.

Up to this point the two lead teachers had undertaken the surveys and collected the data. We now had to get our staff onboard. Professional development about personal financial education (PFE) was done in two sessions. We asked the staff to complete a personal financial profile, and presented to staff the data collected in our survey as the starting point. This was an excellent motivator for staff who were very keen to begin their own class inquiries.

Financial capability in the curriculum

The planned inquiry focused around students gaining a better understanding of the value of money sat within the maths, social sciences, and English learning areas. As a school we decided that all classes would focus on numeracy skills linked to money.

Our initial survey of our students showed little knowledge of financial terms and actions. This led us to the PFE matrix, where we selected learning outcomes that would provide opportunities for students to be enterprising, resourceful, reliable, and resilient, with the ability to set personal goals, make plans, manage projects, and set high standards. These experiences would enable students to develop strategies for meeting challenges. We needed to keep in mind ethical behaviour in terms of money management and business agreements.

We placed a major focus on the key competency 'managing self'. Students will be encouraged and given opportunities to be enterprising, resourceful, reliable, and resilient, with the ability to set goals, make plans, manage projects, and set high standards. Through this, students will be developing strategies for meeting challenges.

Junior school: NE - year 2

The junior school case study illustrates how building financial capability can be supported through the development of enterprising activities.

To assist our students with understanding 'how to become informed users of money' in our inquiry, we gave them the task of creating ways to earn money. From this task we led students into learning experiences that would enable them to make informed decisions about what to do with the money earned. This included providing reasons for their decisions.

Using the financial capability framework to guide the planning of our activities, we focused on both 'managing money and income' and 'setting goals and planning ahead' for the following strands at level 1.

Financial capability matrix of learning outcomes

Managing money and income

  • Money level 1
  • Income level 1
  • Saving level 1
  • Spending and budgeting level 3

Setting goals and planning ahead

  • Setting financial goals level 1
  • Identifying and managing risk level 1

Key competencies


Students developed the 'thinking' competency through considering questions such as how to keep money safe, and investigating banking products.

Students developed their ability to use language, symbols and texts through recognising and counting money, purchasing items, and giving change.


Students had the opportunity to develop the competency of 'using language, symbols and texts' when they used a balance sheet to keep track of their activities. Students also learned and used financial vocabulary.



Students were able to model and explore the values of 'innovation and inquiry' through the planning and organising of an enterprising activity - Ice cream Day.


Students were able to model and explore the values of 'innovation and inquiry' through the planning and organising of an enterprising activity.

The inquiry process

Getting started

All of the junior syndicate set up shops in their classrooms to begin the inquiry unit. Cash registers, ATM machines, and play money were purchased for this. Items were labeled with prices. This enabled students to build financial capability through recognising and counting money, purchasing items, and giving change. Children were asked to bring money from other countries, piggy banks, and interesting bags, purses/wallets. Classroom displays were set up. Homework activities were devised to encourage discussion at home in preparation for co-operative group activities at school.

Questioning and finding out

The children used Kidspiration software as a tool to brainstorm "How people earn money". This would be used later in determining our task:

"We have to create ways to earn money (enterprise) and then make some informed choices to decide what to do with the money we earn (financial capability)."

Each class brainstormed a ‘dream list’ of activities they would like to do with money earned. At the end of the year our ‘dream list’ will be revisited and choices will be made about what to do with the money.

To begin earning, each class set a monetary goal and brainstormed activities they could do to achieve it. Activities were many and varied, including making and selling fudge at a roadside stall, nachos, baked potatoes, muffins for the teachers, inviting parents/grandparents to afternoon tea and a concert (small charge), ice cream day, painting/printing eco bags.

Financial capability outcomes

A budget was set up to track our earnings. Once the money was beginning to accrue, children brainstormed how to keep their money earned safe (Kidspiration). In order to keep money safe, we researched the best bank product. It was decided that a class bank account was needed. The children brainstormed what they needed to ask the banks. Letters were written to be given to the banks and act as prompts for the children.

Here is an example of the work that went into the setting up of 'Ice cream Day'. While this is an enterprising activity, the focus was on students developing financial capabilities around managing money and income, and setting goals and planning ahead to be able to carry out the activity successfully.

  • Brainstorming in cooperative groups what was needed to know to make the day a success, for example, costings, amounts, flavours, physical setting up of stall, help needed.
  • Market research - writing a survey and determining favourite flavours.
  • Using number skills to cost ice cream and cones to determine the number of containers of ice cream and number of cones needed (statistics - counters, tallies). The number of cones from a 2L container was 20 and used counters to go further; worked out the amount of four favourite flavours needed.
  • Writing survey forms.
  • Writing order forms.
  • Creating posters for the stall, for example, flavours (using Comic Life software).
  • Brainstorming where and how to set up the stall.
  • Determining how much to charge for each ice cream cone.
  • Creating an income and expenditure sheet based on every child purchasing an ice cream.
  • After the day, writing an actual income and expenditure sheet to determine profit made.

Answer and evaluating

A small group of children went with parents to survey the banks, and a decision was made about which bank to open a class account with.

Middle and senior school: Years 3-6

To assist our students with understanding 'how to become informed users of money' in our inquiry, we wanted them to set a financial goal around the amount of wealth they would have at the end of the term. We wanted this goal to be based on an informed decision.

Financial capability matrix of learning outcomes

Managing money and income

  • Income level 3
  • Credit level 3
  • Spending and budgeting level 3

Setting goals and planning ahead

  • Setting financial goals level 3
  • Identifying and managing risk level 4

Key competencies

  • Managing self
  • Thinking
  • Using language, symbols and text
  • Relating to others
  • Participating and contributing


Integrity, innovation and inquiry, excellence, diversity

Students initially spent a lot of time questioning and learning about income, financial goals, money management, and wealth to build up knowledge of financial terms and actions. This was a knowledge need indicated in our baseline survey. Using the resource ‘Money Management’ (Essential Resources Education Publishers Ltd) for the first few weeks helped to build the fundamental money skills necessary. Once students had a good base of knowledge and understanding in these areas, we were able to progress with the rest of our inquiry.

Students then researched what their dream career would be. They needed to know what time and effort was required for their chosen career. We came up with a range of questions to answer, for example:

  • What training would you need to do?
  • What skills does someone in this position need?
  • What kinds of tasks make up this job?
  • What would a starting salary be?

Once they finished researching this information was shared with the class.

Students were paid a percentage of their career’s starting salary for the remainder of the term. They were now able to set themselves a financial goal and see if they were able to create that much wealth by the end of the term.

They also had to pay tax, insurance, and either rent or a mortgage for their desk. They had to make choices about their desk/home. They had three different levels of desks, each one getting more expensive as the benefits of it increased. Some students bought desks that others were renting and some set up businesses in an attempt to create more wealth to reach their goals. Businesses were either services (for example, desk cleaning or personal library service), or sold goods. Each business had set up costs, and partnerships had to have written agreements. We needed to keep in mind ethical behaviour in terms of money management and business agreements. With the businesses that sold goods, we had a class market day each week where students could spend their ‘Ranzau dollars'. Students had to apply to have their market idea accepted, and then were able to sell goods and services using Ranzau currency.

Each day there was an ‘Offer of the Day’ using the different money personalities that Liz Koh had taught us about. These offers either tempted students to save, spend, earn, or risk their money. Each day students had to make their own informed decisions and look at the trade off and affordability of each offer.

To keep track of their money, students had to keep a balance sheet of their activities. This acted as a type of bank account. Money was accessed using withdrawal and deposit slips. At the start of each week, students had to fill in income and expenditure forms and declare any extra income that had been earned. This helped students make informed decisions as they knew what excess they had left per week.

At the end of the term, students calculated what their wealth was and then evaluated the goal that they had set for themselves earlier.


Using the inquiry approach has given teachers the flexibility to develop their own programmes suitable to the students' level and needs. Collecting baseline data to ascertain the needs and direction was a necessary first step. Inquiry allowed teachers to incorporate some of their own interests and expertise. For example, one teacher used their love of cooking to guide the students into setting up activities incorporating this.

Students have enjoyed being able to take control of their learning. Inquiry has enabled them to direct their learning in areas of interest and to extend themselves. For example, students have been able to research a career of choice and investigate their own personal questions about finance. Reflecting on our practice, it has reinforced the need to take little steps and revisit them regularly.

The big idea of our unit was to make students more informed users of money. In comparing our initial and final surveys we were able to see the shift in both student knowledge and values. This also became apparent through student, parent, and staff conversations. Evidence was gathered from the community through anonymous parent surveys. The first survey gave us information about student financial practice within the family context. The final parent survey gave us feedback from parents. This was very positive, and the community is supportive of what has been taught and seeing this continue as a part of our curriculum in the future (95% of parents surveyed).

In the junior school the fundraising work undertaken by students, and the financial capability skills they learnt, spilt over into the children’s home life. Many parents commented on how their child had set a target and earned money by doing jobs.

The highlights of the project were the enthusiasm from students, community involvement, and teacher enthusiasm.

Through discussion with staff we can see financial capability becoming an integral part of the school’s long-term plan, with options to use throughout our school values, vision, and curriculum areas. Financial capability will be integrated regularly through a variety of curriculum areas, with a particular focus and teaching emphasis every two years (for example, as part of school trips and camps). We will need to add financial capability to school documentation to ensure this happens and we would continue to plan as a whole school.

Recommended resources

Published on: 20 Jun 2017