The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) has been cancelled by the Tory led coalition government.

Why The Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) Was Important to Poor Children

I’m forty years old which means when I was 16 there was nothing like EMA (under a Tory government), the same is true for my wife (a few years younger). Both of us would have been considered as children in poverty as we grew up.

I was from a single parent family (relied completely on benefits: my mother rarely worked) and my wife who had a mother and father (stable family life), the latter of which was a typical hard working man who always had a job, but this was under the Tories with no national minimum wage and was earning around £75 a week!!!

Conversation with my mother at 16:
Me: “I’m thinking about staying on at school to study A-levels.”
My mother: “I ain’t paying for it.”
End of conversation.

Took almost two years of dead end jobs before I made the decision to go back into full time education while signing on unemployed (I lied my ass off for years to get a decent education), went to University to study genetics.

My wife had a similar conversation with her mother while she was 15 years of age.

My wife: “A friend is doing an art course at college I’m interested in.”
Mother: “I ain’t paying for it.”
End of conversation.

I kid you not, we pretty much had identical conversations with our mothers, because I’m afraid families in poverty see little value in a decent education. My wife’s mother would say to her daughter while she was trying to study for exams “if you don’t know it now you’ll never know it”.

In our experience (from ~25 years ago) as children in poverty you finish school at 16 and find the first job you can so you start contributing (pay your own way).

While EMA existed poor kids could pay their own way through A-levels etc… muting their parents calls of “I ain’t paying for it” allowing poor kids like us to be more socially mobile (I make a very good living now).

I understand the annual EMA budget was around £560 million and the new budget for whatever will replace it (not announced yet) will be around £60 million! I do like how the new Conservative government regularly cancels programs like the Education Maintenance Allowance BEFORE having a new program to replace it!

So much for social mobility under the Conservatives :-(

David Law