The government has prioritised children in care, care leavers and vulnerable teenagers in a bursary scheme that will replace the educational maintenance allowance (EMA).
The £180m bursary scheme will guarantee a £1,200 payment for 12,000 16 to 19-year-olds who are either in care, leaving care or on income support (including teenage parents), those with severe disabilitiies, orphans and teenagers living away from their parents.
The government has claimed this amount is more than they would have received through the EMA. The rest of the money (£165m) will be a discretionary fund for schools and colleges to distribute to help any student who faces genuine financial barriers to education such as costs of transport, food or equipment. Schools and colleges will have the freedom to decide how much children will get and if it should be linked to behaviour or attendance.
Education secretary Michael Gove said: “Today we are providing targeted financial support for the most vulnerable 16 to 19-year-olds. £180m will be available for this bursary fund – enough to ensure that every child eligible for free school meals who chooses to stay on could be paid £800 per year, more than many receive under the current EMA arrangements.”
The EMA scheme, set up under the former Labour government, paid out £560m to 45% of young people. However, the coalition government claims robust evidence from the National Foundation for Educational Research showed around 90% of those who received it would have pursued their education without it.
The government announced there would be transitional funding for those current receiving EMA.
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