Page last updated at 13:43 GMT, Thursday, 10 November 2005

Teens' learning grants extended

Students working in college
Students receive bonuses for sticking to learning contracts

Tens of thousands more teenagers will become eligible for learning grants when a scheme expands next year.

The education maintenance allowance is being extended to teenagers on the work-related training schemes Entry to Employment and Programme Led Pathways.

The change will mean about 65,000 extra young people in England will be able to claim the allowance from next April.

Officials say their families could be up to £48 a week better off.

The allowance will replace an existing one - called a minimum training allowance - and will be paid to young people on the two programmes, which are funded by the Learning and Skills Council.

Families might be up to £48 a week better off, officials say, because the maintenance allowance does not affect other family benefits, unlike the existing allowance available to people on such schemes.

Better off

Under the education maintenance allowance, students aged 16 or 17 can receive weekly payments of either £30, £20 or £10 in return for a written agreement that they will attend classes regularly, provided their family's household income is less than £30,000 a year.

Almost 300,000 teenagers in England have received payments of up to £30 under the EMA scheme, which was introduced last September.

The changes are part of a move to standardise the system of financial support across schools, colleges and some training programmes.

They apply to England. Separate schemes are run by the administrations for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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