Headlines: January 31st, 2008

Education Maintenance Allowance, which is paid to young people to encourage them to stay in full-time education after 16, can also help to improve their behaviour both during and away from their studies, according to a study today. A report from the Learning and Skills Council shows that students and their parents have both reported changes.

EMA is paid directly to young people and has so far led to more than half a million young people staying in learning. Of those currently in receipt of the payment, more than a third say it has a positive impact on their behaviour and one in five say it encourages them to steer clear of trouble outside college or school. Parents tell a similar story, with one in six reporting an improvement in the behaviour of their children at home as a result of the payments.

Psychologist Donna Dawson said rewarding students with weekly payments helped them to take responsibility for their own lives and their own learning and reminded them that their future was in their own hands. “This can be very empowering, so young people who receive EMA gain a sense of the value of learning and see a tangible benefit to good behaviour which extends out of the classroom and in to every day life,” she added.

Today’s report comes as the LSC announces changes to EMA to come into effect from the next academic year. These will mean that payment of the Allowance will no longer be based only on participation in education, but will also take into account effort and behaviour while in lessons on work-based learning programmes.

The LSC says the changes have the backing of students and parents. Trevor Fellowes, its Director of Learner Support, said, “MA is a ‘something for something’ scheme designed to combat the financial barriers to learning,so we are delighted it is proving to have such extensive positive benefits to young people in addition to those originally intended.”