Local EMA pupils are decreasing
Cash payments plummet
The number of young people receiving a payment to remain in school has fallen by a third in Rutherglen and Cambuslang – despite parts of the towns being amongst the most deprived in Scotland.
The Education Maintenance Allowance ( EMA) was launched in 2004, offering 16 to 19 year olds from low income households a weekly payment of £30 to encourage them to remain in education.
But figures obtained by the Reformer this week reveal that the number of students receiving the payment at Cathkin, Trinity and Stonelaw high schools has plummeted in the past three years.
Between the 2012/13 and 2014/15 academic years the number of young people in receipt of EMA fell by 33 per cent, from 281 to 189, despite the school roll remaining largely the same.
The fall in the number of young people receiving EMA is however not so sharp in other areas of South Lanarkshire, with the total number in receipt of EMA falling by 10 per cent across the local authority in the past three years.
The figures have been dubbed “perplexing” by the country’s largest teaching union.
Bill Ramsay, secretary of South Lanarkshire EIS, said: “We are not in a position to say why there has been a drop in the numbers claiming Educational Maintenance Allowance though we agree that the drop is perplexing.
“It might be because families who are already struggling are seeing the bureaucracy associated with applying as offputting. This may seem somewhat count e r intuitive, there seems to be some evidence that points in that direction as I know that nationally applications for clothing grants are down as well.
“What the EIS can say with more confidence is that the so called welfare reform program of the Westminster Government is impacting severely on the poorest and most vulnerable groups in society, whether children at school, their parents and the wider communities that they live in.”
A spokeswoman for South Lanarkshire Council said it had not analysed the figures so could not confirm whether or not EMA was working in the way it was intended and keeping Rutherglen and Cambuslang teens in the classroom.
She said: “The council encourages all young people who may be eligible for EMA to apply.
“EMA is a support that can contribute to young people who may face financial hardship to remain at school. However, the young person must approach these years positively and their attendance and performance is monitored.
“In line with the ambitions of Developing Scotland’ s Young Workforce, our secondary schools have enhanced their curriculum to offer a broader suite of qualifications to all of our young people. These include a mix of academic and vocational progression pathways.
“Our partnership approach is very much aligned to the Scottish Government’s ambitions and we are working to create opportunities for young people to access educational pathways and remain in full time education, irrespective of their background.”