Whats this EMA all about?

Last week I went back to my old school and chatted with a few students who were studying Economics at A/ AS level. We spoke about many things from current affairs to whether they would vote at the next election.

Now I don’t claim to be an expert in education, and whilst I do seem to remember something being said about kids getting paid to go to school, I have to say I hadn’t thought about it too much.

Apparently an Education Maintenance Allowance or EMA is a weekly payments of £10, £20 or £30 which gets paid directly into a students bank account. The amount received is calculated by looking at household income.

On top of the weekly amount a student can also receive bonuses – but only if you continue to do well and meet targets set by your teacher, tutor or provider when you start.

Perhaps I’m being a cynic – but the ones who handed the forms to the teacher so they could get their allowance seemed to be the pupils who were least interested in the lesson. In fact their complaint was they had to go to school 5 days a week, when those at the local college only had to do 3 days a week to get their allowance. Hmmm, hardly a ringing endorsement of the scheme is it?

So what message are we sending? Have £30 to go to school kids- but hey it doesn’t matter if the curriculum is appropriate to you, as we know you will attend just to get the money. I wonder what evidence there is that these payments have either increased educational attainment, or is money well spent in any way shape or form.

I believe there is a lot of research which points to the fact that if you want to increase educational standards money may be best spent at a primary level that at any other point of the educational lifespan of a pupil, as that’s where most rewards are reaped If you get it right at primary level, then the rest follows. It makes you think what primary schools would do to get an extra £30 per head – rather than just handing £30 to certain pupils to stay at school who quite frankly may not be that interested in stopping on.

3 Responses to Whats this EMA all about?

  1. Mong is offensive! says:

    Ema meets all the above but is a fantastic TOOL  for tackeling workless culture.

  2. EMA's are just a way of keeping the unemployment statistics down.  The government aren't interested in giving these kids skills to take into the real world, it's simply a method of showing us more kids are staying in school and possibly going to university – even though they are in fact wasting everyone's time.

  3. Keynesianism says:

    In theoretical terms, EMA's help to improve the levels of human capital by encouraging students from poorer backgrounds to continue their education, instead of partaking in some unskilled, dead end job or worse still, hanging around in groups looking moody. There are to my knowledge, no attempts to measure the success of this scheme in terms of educational and therefore economic value added.  How many of these students would not be in education without the EMA scheme?  Do not forget also that child benefit continues to be paid to post 16 students in full time education , so the true cost could be nearer £50 a week if you include termly bonuses awarded for essentially turning up.

    In my view this is another example of labour being generous with taxpayers money.  I know from discussions with students that some see it as free drinks on Gordon Brown at the weekend.  Others no doubt use it in a more productive manner.  The point is however that nobody knows.  Perhaps if EMA's were awared on the basis of academic achievement and performance relative to ability, the scheme might have more credibility. 



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