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EDITIONS
Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 08:37 GMT 09:37 UK
40 a week to stay in education
Ministers want to increase the staying-on rate
Young people in middle and lower-income families could be going to get up to 40 a week to stay in education after the age of 16.

The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, is reported to have signalled that a 600m scheme to extend educational maintenance allowances across the country would be a major feature of his comprehensive spending review later this month.

Ministers are concerned at Britain's relatively poor international record of education and training beyond the compulsory age of 16.

Figures released last week showed a drop in the number of 16 year olds in education and training in England.

Boost

At present the maintenance allowances or EMAs operate in 56 pilot areas.

EMA pilot schemes
up to 30 a week (40 in two areas)
extra for staying on and achievement
signed agreement on attendance and homework
some pilots pay transport costs
Young people in families earning up to 30,000 are paid on a sliding scale from 5 to 40 a week.

The evidence is that there is a 5% increase on average in the staying-on rate in those areas.

In an interview for The Times newspaper, Mr Brown said: "A huge feature of our work in the spending review is looking at educational opportunity and at creating small businesses.

"If we had the same rate of staying on at schools as countries like Sweden, we would probably have 200,000 more young people staying on at school beyond 16, getting qualifications and becoming more successful in the workforce," he said.

Science and engineering

So one of the main aims of the review would be to encourage more people to stay on at school.

College student Daniel Manley
Daniel Manley: "Excellent idea"
This is "partly about opportunity and partly about aspiration", Mr Brown told the paper.

"The measures include tackling the low level of qualifications and skills of our young people and adults and the lower than American rate of entrepreneurial success.

"If we were able to make a success in those two areas, including people going into science and engineering, it would make a big difference to our long-term growth and productivity."

There is even some speculation that an extension of EMAs could be the government's solution to its dilemma over what to do about higher education student funding.

The results of a review of the system of loans and fees are long overdue.

Incentive

Daniel Manley is doing a catering NVQ at Southampton City College and gets 30 a week maintenance allowance.

He said he probably would have gone to college anyway but would have struggled financially.

He thinks EMAs are "an excellent idea".

He would applaud a move to make the scheme available nationwide.

"It will encourage more people to come to college and give them a better idea of their future and give them more education, " he said.

New campaign

The government is also expected to relaunch a national advertising campaign to persuade teenagers not to leave education as soon as they can.

According to the National Union of Students, EMAs are most effective in families with no tradition of further or higher education - the very people the Department for Education is so keen to keep in the system.

At the union's annual conference earlier this year, delegates demanded a universal, means-tested system of education maintenance allowances.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Mike Baker
"Those from poorer homes are most likely to drop out"
The BBC's Kim Catcheside
"The whole idea has been piloted across the UK for some time"
See also:

02 Jul 02 | Education
28 Jun 02 | Education
02 May 02 | Education
02 Jun 00 | Education
23 Apr 02 | Education
28 Jan 99 | Education
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