It is not often your old school hits the headlines as my old school, Quintin Kynaston, did last Friday. However, the idea of a school having to provide shelter for it’s homeless pupils so that they may continue in further education illustrates well the direction in which the coalition government’s education policy is heading.
Appeals like the Quintin Kynaston House Project to raise £3m should not be necessary in this day and age. Yet stories like these are not surprising, given the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowances (EMA). This is the means tested allowance of £30 a week which makes it possible for a large number of students to stay on in education after 16. For example, in Brent, there were 3,684 young people receiving the EMA as at November 2010. From the 1st of January 2011, those students would no longer qualify. The figure Londonwide is even more staggering at 84,814 who would stand to lose under the new changes. This is why l joined campaigners over the weekend in Brent asking local people to sign a petition to their local MP, Sarah Teather, to keep her pre-election pledge against the rise in fees and to vote against scrapping the EMA. I hope the government will listen.
So when all the attention is focused on higher education tuition fees this week, let’s not forget that young people will also lose the crucial stepping stone which for many, allows them to progress to higher education in the first place. The loss of support for young people between 16-18 coupled with the removal of the cap for tuition fees constitutes a double blow for what is essentially our future hopefuls.