Whats this EMA all about?
May 4, 2008 3 Comments
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 donâ€™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 hadnâ€™t thought about it too much.
Apparently an Education Maintenance Allowance or EMA is a weekly payments of Â£10, Â£20 or Â£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 â€“ but only if you continue to do well and meet targets set by your teacher, tutor or provider when you start.
Perhaps Iâ€™m being a cynic â€“ 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 Â£30 to go to school kids- but hey it doesnâ€™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 thatâ€™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 Â£30 per head â€“ rather than just handing Â£30 to certain pupils to stay at school who quite frankly may not be that interested in stopping on.