EMA reform welcome but it's still not enough
A £180million bursary scheme to help the most vulnerable teenagers will replace the Education Maintenance Allowances which were scrapped in England last year.
Education Secretary Michael Gove told the Commons this week that 12,000 students with the greatest needs will receive an annual bursary of £1,200 if they continue their education and the revised system would provide a "more targeted" support system.
The £560million EMA scheme had provided up to £30 a week to help low-income students stay on at sixth forms and colleges.
Tower Hamlets College principal Michael Farley had been critical of the axing of the grant, arguing that thousands of students in east London would be "cut adrift" while many would be unable to complete their courses.
On hearing the news of the latest incarnation of the grant, he said: "While it was good to hear that some changes have been made to the initial proposals for financial support for young people, I do not believe they have gone far enough.
"A reduction of funding from £560 million to just £180million available next year will impact on college students.
"We have now been informed that details for the new financial support arrangements will not be confirmed until the end of May.
"Young people are making choices now on where to study next year and they need to know now whether they will receive any financial support."
The largest amounts - £1,200 per year - will be given to the most needy such as pupils in care, care leavers and the severely disabled.
After these payments, from the £180million overall funding, there will be £165million for colleges and schools to make discretionary payments to support low-income students with costs such as transport, food and books.
There will also be a partial reprieve for students who are already on courses and receiving EMAs.
Under the EMA scheme, 650,000 16 to 19 year olds young people from low-income families had received grants of between £10 and £30 per week.
The allowances had been introduced by Labour in an attempt to tackle the long-standing problem of a high teenage drop-out rate from education.
But the coalition attacked the EMA scheme as wasteful.