A staple for many Australian school kids, the CommBank School Banking program helps kids learn how to save and manage their money.
For generations of Australian school kids, the first bank account they ever had was a Commonwealth Bank Dollarmites account. CommBank has been running its highly successful School Banking program for more than 80 years and today, the bank is still the dominant player in this niche sector of the market.
But how does the School Banking program teach children about money and how has it changed since you first deposited money into your Dollarmites account?
What is CommBank School Banking?
The School Banking program helps Australian school kids learn about money and develop their money-saving skills in a fun and interactive way. Run in participating primary schools across the country, the program encourages children to make regular deposits into their CommBank Youthsaver Account.
Every time a child makes a deposit into their Youthsaver Account, regardless of the amount, they will receive a Dollarmites token. Once a child has collected 10 tokens they can redeem an array of rewards and toys. Kids also receive a certificate upon reaching specific savings milestones.
Children who join the program are given a Dollarmites deposit wallet – yes, it’s still that distinctive yellow book you remember from your own primary school days – and a ‘Platybank’ money box. They can also take advantage of a range of engaging educational materials and interactive programs that teach them about money and encourages them to develop regular savings habits.
What School Banking rewards are available?
A silver Dollarmites token is given to a child each time they make a deposit into their CommBank account at school. Once they’ve made 10 deposits and collected 10 tokens they can swap the tokens for one of the many School Banking rewards on offer.
Rewards are typically toys and games designed to appeal to primary school-aged children, and they have staggered release dates throughout the year so that rewards can only be accessed at specific times. The rewards are based on a specific theme that changes each year to keep the program interesting and encourage ongoing participation.
In 2016, the School Banking program adopted an 'Outback Adventure through the Canyon of Savings' theme, with the available rewards including:
- Flying Snake Tail – available at time of writing
- Wildlife Writer Set – available at time of writing
- Mud Splat Handball – available at time of writing
- Outback Pat Bag Tag – available at time of writing
- Backtrack Eraser Pen – Released in Term 3
- Jump and Skip Rope – Released in Term 3
- Bush Fly Fan – Released in Term 4
- Wriggly Glow Worm – Released in Term 4
There are also regular competitions to encourage student participation. Kids who participate in the program in 2016 have a chance to win a trip to Australia Zoo to meet Bindi and Robert Irwin.
Children also receive certificates for reaching savings milestones throughout the school year:
- Bronze – 10 deposits
- Silver – 20 deposits
- Gold – 30 deposits
- Outstanding achievement – 40 deposits or any other School Banking achievement the school deems worthy of recognition
How do I open a School Banking Account?
There are three ways you can open a CommBank Youthsaver Account and get your child started in the School Banking program:
- Visit a CommBank branch
- Apply online via NetBank (if you’re an existing customer)
- Through participating schools using a paper application form
Branch and NetBank applications enable your child to start participating in School Banking immediately, but paper forms may take up to 10 days to process. Both you and your child will need to have your identification verified before an account can be opened, but existing customers will only need to provide their existing account number.
What other resources are available?
The CommBank School Banking program also includes a range of resources and activities to teach children about the importance of money. These include:
- Class activities. From crosswords and colouring-in sheets to goal-setting activities, the School Banking program offers a wide variety of in-class activities to teach kids about money.
- Support materials. CommBank offers newsletter and website communications advice to help schools promote the banking program, as well as wallet inserts to help children manage their deposits.
- The Beanstalk. This online resource aims to help parents and teachers bring money to life for children. It offers advice articles about all the basics of saving and spending, plus interactive games to teach kids about the value of money.
- The Dollarmites Club. This online resource is packed with games and puzzles to help kids have fun while they learn about money. It offers colouring-in games, memory games, counting money activities, creative writing activities, savings tips and a collection of cartoon characters to teach kids how to manage their money.
- Start Smart. The Start Smart program operates across Australian primary and secondary schools, and also reaches young adults in Vocational Education. It offers free workshops and online resources to make learning about money management interactive and enjoyable. The program reaches more than 500,000 young Australians each year and is designed to give them the knowledge and confidence they need to make smart financial decisions.
How does the CommBank School Banking program benefit schools?
In addition to teaching students how to manage their money, the School Banking program also acts as a fundraising initiative for participating schools. Schools receive:
- $5 for every CommBank account opened under the program.
- 5% of every deposit made at school (a maximum $10 commission applies per deposit)
- A minimum commission of $25 per quarter (as long as at least one new deposit is made or one new account is opened each quarter)
In 2015, participating schools received a total of more than $2.3 million. The CommBank School Banking program is offered to all primary schools nationwide, including those that have both primary and secondary students on the same campus.
A School Banking Specialist can help establish the program and provide regular advice on how to encourage children to participate. Volunteers such as parents, carers, grandparents, etc. typically act as School Banking Co-ordinators, helping to collect deposits, run the rewards program and deposit the money from students at their nearest CommBank branch.
Deposits are processed by School Banking Co-ordinators through the School Banking Portal. This system only accepts deposits for Youthsaver Accounts.
The School Banking Co-ordinator collects the money from students (cheque deposits of up to $999 are also accepted) and enters the details of each deposit into the Portal. These details are then transmitted to CommBank electronically, with the co-ordinator making a single deposit at their nearest CommBank branch or Australia Post outlet within 24 hours.
If your child already has a CommBank Youthsaver Account, he or she can still use their Dollarmites deposit book and deposit wallet to put money into their account under the School Banking program.
If you’re looking for a way to teach your child about money and encourage them to start saving, check whether the CommBank School Banking program is available through your child’s school.