From education to employment

Sector responds to EMA abolition impact

Government changes to FE funding for 16-19 year olds have left many without a clear indication of how their studies and training will be funded next year.

A report released earlier this week by the House of Commons, Education Select Committee, on participation by 16–19 year olds in education and training, warns the delays to the new bursaries are making it difficult for young people to work out exactly what funding might be available to them.

The report states that the Government should have done more to acknowledge the Educational Maintenance Allowance’s (EMA) combined impact on participation, attainment and retention, before it decided how to restructure financial support. The sector has strongly responded to the report.

The Institute for Learning (IfL) welcomed the committee’s acknowledgement of the risks attached to quality in apprenticeship provision and the importance of independent and impartial careers guidance and the robust measures proposed to ensure that learners of all ages have access to a highquality service.

Toni Fazaeli, chief executive of IfL, said: “We believe that all learners deserve outstanding quality teaching and learning, delivered through a well-supported, professional workforce of teachers and trainers and constructive engagement must begin promptly to ensure a smooth transition to the new system.”

Responding to the report, the National Union of Students (NUS) suggested that young people had been let down by the scrapping of EMA.

“[Education Secretary] Michael Gove hurried the decision to scrap EMA and planned the implementation of its replacement poorly,” said NUS Vice President Toni Pearce.

“The approach taken by ministers in the face of reasoned and widespread opposition has exposed young people to confusion and the potential loss of vital support at precisely the time when young people need education and training opportunities to be available.”

NUS also agreed with the Committee that the reforms had been “rushed and ill thought through” and challenged the evidence used by Ministers to back up their decision.

Association of Teacher and Lectures (ATL) agreed with the Select Committee that the abolition of EMA was botched and its replacement will be unfair on young people.

Adrian Prandle, education policy adviser at ATL, said: “We think the Select Committee is right to demand a face-to-face service for all young people.

The government has a responsibility to ensure high quality education for all learners. Instead of diverting much-needed funds to bribe employers to take on apprentices, the government should stop and look at the risks it is taking with young people’s futures.”

Aastha Gill

(Pictured: Education Secretary Michael Gove)

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