THE Government has announced a new £180 million bursary scheme to help the most vulnerable 16-19 years olds continue in full-time education.
The scheme is made up of two parts – a guaranteed payment to a small group of the most vulnerable, worth more than anybody got under the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), and a discretionary fund for schools and colleges to distribute.
It comes after pressure from hundreds of Doncaster College students who staged protests following the decision to scrap the EMA. The scheme saw 16 to 19-year-old from low income families receive up to £30 a week to encourage them to stay in education.
The Government said that around 12,000 will now be given guaranteed bursaries of £1,200 a year. This group is made up of children in care, care leavers and those on income support.
Schools and colleges can distribute the rest of the money to support any student who faces genuine financial hardship. This includes help with transport, food or equipment.
The current discretionary fund is £26 million. In future the fund will be worth £180 million. Even after the guaranteed bursaries have been paid colleges will still have £165 million.
Michael Gove MP, Education Secretary, said: “Sadly, we have been falling behind other nations in our educational performance. We have one of the most unequal education systems in the developed world. We have an insufficient supply of high quality vocational education. We have a system of education spending which is fundamentally inefficient.
Doncaster Central MP Rosie Winterton also supported Doncaster College students in their fight and wrote to Mr Gove asking what the Government intended to do to help teenagers.