Cornwall Council can and should do better with its proposals for a local replacement for the axed education maintenance allowance (EMA) according to the opposition Liberal Democrats. The proposal will be discussed at one of the first scrutiny meetings of the New Year on January 6th.
“We welcome the proposal for a local fund to help the 7,647 16-19 year olds worst hit by the withdrawal of EMA, 90% of whom qualified for free school meals,” said Cllr Graham Walker, Liberal Democrat shadow cabinet member for schools and education. “But the council has been very vague until now about how such a proposal would work. Now that we have seen the details, we are very disappointed. The Council can and must do better for local students and pupils.”
“The scheme will only help learners at the highest level of study – mainly academic A-levels and AS-levels. Whilst there are many pupils studying at this level who need help, there are many others studying at Further Education colleges who will miss out. We should not be putting forward a scheme which helps only the most academically gifted, particularly given the additional challenges faced by many FE students.”
“The scheme also discriminates against those in the East of Cornwall who study in Devon. There are 500 such students who will be ignored by this proposal. For most, this is not a choice but the only practical option to continue their education. We believe that all students from Cornwall should be considered on an equal basis.”
“The administration appears to have drawn up their scheme without talking to young people about it. This is a crucial omission which perhaps explains why the proposed scheme is so weak. Liberal Democrats will be asking the Cabinet Member to consult properly and come back with a better scheme.”