A leading financial education provider has warned that money can all too easily fall to the bottom of a vague "wish list" of topics to be taught in Scotland's classrooms.

The Stewart Ivory programme has revealed how schools are still struggling to fulfil their statutory obligation to provide financial lessons, wrestling with a loose requirement to fit these into any of the core subjects on the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence.

The scheme's chairman, Hamish Buchan, said many teachers "lack the confidence" to tackle this subject properly, while some fear that external teaching material offered by the banking sector is based on a "subliminal need to sell products".

Mr Buchan called for more support and funding to be given to independent charities, which can provide the impartial resources and knowledgeable experts necessary to make financial education happen.

His view has been echoed by MyBnk, an English charity which is urging the government to introduce "a funded and kite-marked system" that helps schools draw on "tailored, non-profit services". Plans for a rubberstamped database of reputable charities that could spread financial literacy have been recently shelved by the government-backed Money Advice Service, according to MyBnk.

The Centre for Social Justice has also warned that funding for this sector is "in short supply", with many financial services organisations pulling the plug in the mistaken belief that "the job is done" now that financial education is on the English syllabus.

MyBnk's joint chief executive, Guy Rigden, said: "Simply saying to schools, achieve 'this', isn't enough. How is it being delivered, monitored and evaluated? Who is delivering it and what is the priority?

"Both Scotland and England have structures that ensure money lessons remain led by teachers who are not experts and experts who are not teachers. This leaves quality and effectiveness to chance."

The Stewart Ivory programme has now embarked on a fresh fundraising campaign to ensure it survives beyond 2015.

Previous coverage of its funding woes in the Herald helped secure £45,000 from the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments, among other institutions, this academic year.

Mr Buchan revealed that the latest round of fundraising has generated £370,000 - 75 per cent of the total amount required to keep the scheme alive for the next three years. He said: "We have enough money theoretically to cover costs up to July 2015 - by that time, I hope we have enough money to continue for another two years.

"We don't charge state schools for this service so we have to get support from charities, individuals or from the government. Several local authorities have contributed to the scheme for the first time this year but if every local council in Scotland chipped in, we wouldn't be in this position."

The Stewart Ivory programme is unusual in recruiting independent experts from the financial sector to speak to sixth formers, rather than just providing materials for teachers to use. It was established by the Stewart Ivory Foundation, a seven-year trust set up in 2001 following the sale of the Stewart Ivory fund house to new Australian owners. Since 2008, the programme has relied on donations from a mixture of individuals and financial institutions to reimburse the volunteers for their time. Supporters include Aberdeen Asset Management and Baillie Gifford, as well as local authorities such as Aberdeenshire, East Renfrewshire, Highland and Morayshire.

Another major personal finance charity also faces an uncertain New Year as it declined to comment on speculation that it will scale back its operation and cut staff in 2015.

The Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG), which has a database of more than 50,000 teachers, has been a high-profile champion of compulsory money lessons for the past 14 years, receiving £100,000 from Martin Lewis, the founder of, in 2013.

But its chief executive, Tracey Bleakley, as well as its head of communications left in September when PFEG was taken over by fellow charity Young Enterprise, which has a broad aim of "inspiring young people to succeed through enterprise".

It followed Ms Bleakley's urgent call for more funding in PFEG's last annual report so the charity could meet "higher demand" for its services. PFEG's income dropped from £8.26m in 2010/11 to £1.35m in 2011/12 after funding from government and financial regulator came to an end. The charity's last accounts also show a significant drop in the number of employees over that time, from 41 to 12.

The chief executive of Young Enterprise, Michael Mercieca, said the merged charity was considering how to maintain its commitment to financial education while remaining "efficient and financially viable". He denied that the PFEG brand will be scrapped, though he would not be drawn on whether YE will make redundancies following the merger.

Mr Mercieca said: "Financial and enterprise education naturally work well together. We will continue to strengthen and develop PFEG's offer to respond to the needs of teachers who are working hard to deliver financial education to the curriculum."