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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 August, 2004, 09:23 GMT 10:23 UK
Teenagers cash in on school days
Exam - generic
The payments will be used to encourage children to stay on
Almost 10,000 teenagers are to receive their first payments for staying on at school this month.

The hand-outs are part of a Scottish Executive plan to encourage pupils to stay on after fourth year.

The executive hopes the project will benefit youngsters who might have been forced to leave school or college at an early age in order to earn money.

However, about 1,000 fifth year pupils will miss out because they turned 16 before the beginning of March.

For the first time across the country, pupils can apply for an allowance ranging from 10 to 30 a week depending on parental income.

Scott Kydd, a fifth year pupil at Webster's High School in Kirriemuir, missed out on the payments by 27 days.

He believes he should be entitled to the same help as his younger friends.

Scott told the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme: "I think it's very unfair that somebody who's in the same year can be paid to be at school when I can't because I'm too old.

To differentiate on the basis of birth date seems a nonsense
Steve McColl
Scottish Parent Teacher Council
"I think it's unfair that someone who's studying the same subjects as I am can be paid to stay on at school when I'm just a little bit older and I'm not able to be paid."

Steve McColl, convener of the Scottish Parent Teacher Council, suggested that every pupil in fifth year should at least be entitled to apply for support.

Mr McColl said: "The cut-off would simply be if you're in the fifth year cohort then you would receive the allowance or would be eligible to apply for it.

"To differentiate on the basis of birth date seems a nonsense."

Details of the Educational Maintenance Allowances (EMA) were revealed earlier this year by Lifelong Learning Minister Jim Wallace.

I recognise that people feel a very strong sense of unfairness about it and that's why I'm certainly prepared to look at it again
Jim Wallace
Minister for Lifelong Learning

But the Scottish Executive recognises the concerns raised by the older pupils and their families.

Mr Wallace has agreed to look again at the situation but warned that any change would be costly.

He said: "I recognise that people feel a very strong sense of unfairness about it and that's why I'm certainly prepared to look at it again but I would have to say that it does throw up much more complex issues than... a simple change of date.

"It's not as simple as that, it's costly, so I don't want to raise expectations unduly."

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