Government's Handing Of EMA Criticised By MPs
The Government's changes to further education funding for 16-19 year-olds have left many without a clear indication of how their studies and training will be funded next year, according to MPs.
The Education Maintenance Allowance was abolished last year, saving the government £560 million. It's been replaced by what ministers believe is a more targeted bursary scheme, which costs £180 million.
The Education Committee's report on participation by 16–19 year olds in education and training, published today, says the delays to the new bursaries are making it difficult for young people to work out exactly what funding might be available to them in the next academic year.
Among the Committee's other findings:
- Free school meals are available to pupils in a school sixth form, but not to pupils studying in further education or sixth form colleges. The report says there is no logic to this, and urges the government to rethink this policy.
- While travel costs for deprived children under 16 is subsidised, there's no plan for people over 16 to have their travel paid for.
- There's been a 'sharp reduction' in the availability of career guidance services for young people in England.
By 2013 the government expects all children to carry on in education or training until they're 18 years old. The coalition has decided not to enforce a law passed by the previous Labour government which would have enforced this.
Now the government merely describes the plan to get everyone to stay in school or training after the age of 16 as an 'expectation'.
The Chair of the Education Committee, Tory MP Graham Stuart, said: "Young people taking life defining decisions at 16 need clear information on the support they may receive and deserve better than rushed and ill thought through reforms.
"We accept that changes and savings need to be made but the organisation of the change has been far from smooth. Decisions on how much will be available for distribution by each school or college have been taken far too late, and it is 16 year olds who have suffered uncertainty as a result. That should not have been allowed to happen.”