Education unions reacted positively to the Labour Party’s announcement on 17 August that it will restore the education maintenance allowance and the maintenance grant if it wins power at the next general election.
The education maintenance allowance (EMA) and maintenance grants were introduced to ensure young people from disadvantaged socio-economic households were able to overcome the financial barriers to staying in further and higher education.
NUT: Investment in students would benefit society
“Family financial circumstances should not dictate access to education,” said the National Union of Teachers’ Assistant Secretary for Advice, Policy and Campaigns, Amanda Brown. The abolition of the EMA meant that “many young people had to give up their education or were pushed into choices they did not want to make”, she added.
Restoring the EMA and maintenance grants, she explained, would help pay for essentials like travel, meals and equipment and help to ensure that students achieve their goals in life, “an investment which would benefit all of society”.
NASUWT: Positive step
Chris Keates, the General Secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, went on to stress that “Labour’s promise to reinstate student grants and EMA support would be a positive step in reversing the lack of investment in young people which has been driven by current Government policy”.
It is “scandalous when the Government decided to balance the books at the expense of those on whom the future economic success of this country depends, by scrapping these grants”, Keates said.
A move back to EMA support and maintenance grants is the only way to guarantee that all young people can take advantage of all education opportunities available to them, she added.