Lo­cal EMA pupils are de­creas­ing

Cash pay­ments plum­met

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

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.”

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