The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) provides the opportunity for less well-off children to continue their education. It provides money for costs such as travel, books and equipment. But why is this necessary when no student receives EMA at GCSE-level?
My school argues that books and equipment are more expensive at A-level so it is necessary to give students from poorer backgrounds money to buy them. But might it not be more cost effective to give the money to the school to buy and store textbooks for use by all students.
Equally, if students need more money for travel to get to their college or sixth form, then surely some form of travel card should be provided.
Perhaps the real argument for EMA is that it provides students, who may think that they should be out earning a living, with an incentive to carry on with their education. But there are better ways to go about this.
First, if students really want to go and work immediately after their GCSEs, their decision should be respected and the government should help them with training or financial support to get a good job. The EMA should not make school something someone continues with only for money.
Students should want to stay not because of money but because they enjoy and want to continue their education. It might be harder than paying students grants, but it would be more useful.
Another way to engage students in further education would be to provide them with better careers advice. Being able to see where their education is going to lead them would provide students with a far stronger motive to carry on than £10-£30 a week.
Robert Davis is 16.