Sorted in Schools competition helps community

Cambridge High School students Ashlin Long and Ella Buffery put a blockbuster of an idea into action to help two local charities, thanks to prize money they won in a budgeting competition. 


The students won $5,000 in a competition run by Sorted in Schools, Te whai hua kia ora, a financial education programme produced by the Commission for Financial Capability (CFFC).

The pair are now preparing a community movie night screening of Dolittle at the Cambridge Raceway on Saturday, 14 November. They hope the event will raise much needed funds for The Salvation Army and Asthma Waikato.

Cambridge High School Money Jam winners

Ella Buffery (left) and Ashlin Long from Cambridge High School put their winnings from a Sorted in Schools budgeting competition toward a community movie night.

It all came about in the nick of time just before the first national lockdown. Ashlin and Ella had just completed lessons on income and budgeting when their teacher, Tina Rose-Dutton, the school’s Head of Commerce, told them about Money Jam, a competition run by Sorted in Schools. The girls jumped at the chance to enter. 

Ashlin and Ella said the competition presented a great opportunity to learn money skills with the aim that if they won, they would do something good for their community. 

“Winning for us wasn’t about getting to run our event or make money for selfish gain; it was about reconnecting people after an unprecedented crisis and supporting a great cause.”

“It’s been a tough year for everyone, including young people in Cambridge. There hasn’t been much to do because COVID shut the local pool, and the skatepark and we only have one movie theatre. We hope our movie night will be a welcome release and bring everyone back together.”

Rose-Dutton said the girls did all the work themselves, including approaching local businesses to find out how much it would cost to stage the event.

“They knew they would need to spend money to promote the night. They’ve used their prize money to set up a website, organise food and drink to be sold and even have prizes to give away. They hope local people come to see Dolittle to have some fun and support a great cause.”

Rose-Dutton said the Sorted in Schools competition also helped her as a teacher, as it was easy to organise and helped reinforce the financial lessons she had taught the class.

“We had just wrapped up lessons on budgeting and income and I needed something for the students to work on for a week before lockdown. The Sorted in Schools’ resources were perfect as they were easy to use and the students could just pick them up and go.”

Tina is passionate about teaching money lessons to her students; she believes financial capability is a vital life-skill for students to develop before they “head off into the big wide world.” Throughout the year, you will often find her running ‘five minutes of finance’ lessons.

“My husband and I are former accountants, so I’m a big advocate of financial literacy. I encouraged all my students to enter the competition and I’m thrilled Ashlin and Ella won, as they really put a lot of hard work into their entry.” 

Learning Development Lead at the CFFC, Tista Lythe, said the competition received a variety of budgeting plans for parties, sports, and community-based events.   

“Cambridge’s entry was well thought out, realistic and clearly communicated. We also liked that this event would directly help local charities that are in greater need this year due to the COVID pandemic.”  

Sorted in Schools is a free financial capability programme that aims to equip secondary students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to make good decisions with money from the time they leave school.  More than 67% of secondary schools and 60% of kura are registered to teach the resources, potentially reaching more than 180,000 students.