Headlines: June 3rd, 2005

Figures today show that the Education Maintenance Allowance has helped almost 300,000 young people stay in education. The Secretary of State for Education and Skills, Ruth Kelly, is calling on all those who may be eligible for the payments to apply now to start receiving allowances in September.So far, the figures show, 295,000 young people have already received the weekly payment since its launch across England a year ago. The allowance is designed to be a financial incentive paid to young people to continue their studies after the age of 16 in a wide range of education, such as vocational courses up to NVQ level 3, academic courses such as A-levels or to resit GCSE exams at school or college.

The scheme is open to eligible young people who turn 17 or 18 during the academic year that will start in September and they should apply now so that payments kick in at the beginning of the new term. The means tested payment goes to students from households with incomes of up to £30,000. The money is paid directly into their bank accounts in return for regular attendance and commitment.

The Learning and Skills Council is predicting that about half of all 16 year olds, currently in their GCSE year will be eligible for EMA in the new academic year. It is estimated that the EMA payments encouraged an extra 35,000 young people to participate in further education last year than would have done before the policy was introduced.

Moray Bayliss, from Sir George Monoux College in Walthamstow, said, “In our experience, young people on EMA view the scheme as a ‘something for something’ benefit. They understand that they have to stick to the EMA contract they signed up to at the beginning of term and as a result, grades, attendance and motivation levels have improved significantly.”

Launching the new round of applications Ruth Kelly said the allowance was about providing opportunities, increasing participation in further education and reducing the number of 16 year olds who dropped out, became unemployed or entered low paid work.