Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cuts, EMAs and alumni

This week’s Public Finance has an interesting article about by Conor Ryan about the Coalition’s education policies.

I was disappointed to read that Education Maintenance Allowances face an uncertain future under the Coalition. These grants were introduced to widen participation at 16-18 as well as promote achievement through linking payment to attendance. (A nudge before behavioural change became a fashionable policy agenda.)

When the independent and respected Institute of Fiscal Studies tracked the effects of EMAs, they found improved participation and achievement in education for disadvantaged students. In the case of minority ethnic there were “strong and significant improvements”. (The pdf can be found here.)

As the Coalition is committed to social mobility, EMAs should be safe in their hands. But if EMAs are to be reduced or abolished, perhaps some colleges might be able to do something.

I have always wondered why sixth form colleges, at least, do not see alumni as an opportunity. Might some old girls and boys be interested in contributing something to ensure that others share in the opportunities that they enjoyed? Universities do it – why not sixth form colleges?

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