Home > Education, EMA, Gove > Coalition Wrong to Claim That EMA is Ineffectual

Coalition Wrong to Claim That EMA is Ineffectual

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

This week saw more student protests in Westminster as Labour brought an Opposition Day debate on Educational Maintainance Allowance  (EMA) to the House of Commons.

The Coalition announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review last Autumn that EMA would stop at the end of this academic year, with no new applications for the support accepted from January 2011.

Just under half of all 16-18 year olds in full-time education received EMA during 2009/10, and the full £30 per week was claimed by 4 out of every 5 students who were in receipt of the support.

I do not argue that Labour’s educational legacy should be protected. Shamefully, during their 13 years in power social mobility stalled and decreased. The famous Blair cry of “Education, education, education” rings through time as a reminder of another promise broken.

But to scrap EMA – without having an alternative on the table – is a reckless move that will impact upon some of the most disadvantaged children in our society.

It’s not perfect. Some may say that it acts as a bribe to keep kids in schools (thereby keeping unemployment levels lower than they otherwise would be).

Others argue that the 100% attendance record required to receive EMA means that students who either have caring duties or troubles at home wills struggle to fulfil this most stringent of criteria.

The Government argue that EMA has proven ineffectual.

As well as using the now old line that the previous Government left us with no money to spend, they say that evidence shows that “only 12% of young people overall receiving an EMA believe that they would not have participated in the courses they are doing if they had not received an EMA.”

The Coalition use this as a way of justifying the removal of EMA. We are told, consistently, they have plans to replace it.

But we have not been told what it will be replaced by. Wednesday’s debate was a fantastic opportunity for Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education, to introduce his plans.

But it seems that he has none.

Simon Hughes, the Lib Dem deputy leader, has been drafted in to help improve access to education, but it seems that he is struggling to get the support he needs.

On last nights Question Time he said that the money available for the replacement isn’t anywhere like enough.

My concern is this. While the Lib Dems who still care about access to education struggle for more, what of the one in 10 recipients of EMA who wouldn’t have stayed on without the financial support?

However much criticism the Government may want to throw at EMA, by scrapping it before coming up with a replacement they have left talented children from underprivileged backgrounds with no way of remaining in further education.

For shame.

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Categories: Education, EMA, Gove
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