DALES VIEW: Learning the lesson that maths matters

The youngest boy is doing his GCSEs this year. We’ve urged him to study hard at maths in particular, telling him it is so important for keeping life on track.

It beats me why kids don’t spend half their school time learning how things like mortgages, pensions, income tax and the financial markets work. Rishi wants children to study maths until they’re 18 and I get that, but it needs to be real life maths.

I certainly wish I’d known about the life hack that is compound interest when I was 16. Maybe we were taught it and like a stupid fool I didn’t listen because I was too busy flicking my Parker ink pen at my classmates.

I’m sure I’d have taken it on board though if the teacher had explained it like this: “Young boy if you invest a little bit of your money each month in a stocks and shares ISA, by the time you retire you will be well minted and rich enough to afford a Ford Escort XR3i (which is the car I really wanted when I was that age).”

But instead they talked about long multiplications and algebra and the freakin’ angles within an isosceles triangle. Do you know many times I’ve had to work the angles of a triangle in my life since leaving school? I’ll tell you how many. Once, and that was only because I was trying to help a child with their maths homework.

We all left school with a lovely burgundy record of achievement, when it would have been more useful if everyone was handed a form to start a decent private pension on our last day.

Hey ho, we are where we are. Retiring early is for quitters.

Thinking about it, there is a risk in teaching the current generation of school leavers about house buying, as they may realise how utterly unaffordable it will be for them. They could be forgiven for going on strike from their low-paid service jobs if they realise how they’ll never be able to save for a deposit because all their money will go in rent —rent which is paid to a lucky private landlord who built up their portfolio of properties thanks to two decades of record low interest rates that may never return.