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Education Maintenance Allowance

Part of Opposition Day — [9th allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 1:24 pm on 19th January 2011.

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Photo of Andy Burnham Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State (Education and Election Co-ordinator) 1:24 pm, 19th January 2011

All I can say is that I do not think the hon. Gentleman was listening. I said that EMA makes life possible, and makes the calculations that young people have to do to stay in education that bit more doable. Is he seriously arguing that taking it from those young people will help them to make a success of their lives and circumstances? I find that hard to believe.

The vast majority of EMA is spent on travel, as a survey for the Association of Colleges confirmed this week. It states that

"94% of Colleges believe that the abolition of the EMA will affect students' ability to travel to and from College."

The survey also suggests that some students may be at risk of not being able to follow the college course of their choice due to the cost or availability of transport. That goes to the heart of student choice in education. If students do not have the ability to travel, they cannot get on to the courses that they want to study. The Secretary of State needs to come up with a convincing answer to that.

I want the Secretary of State also to think about the effect of the change on the aspirations of young people who are still in secondary school. I want him to reflect on what a young woman from my constituency told me this week-that her 15-year-old brother had already given up at school because, without EMA, he could not see any way that he would be able to go to Wigan and Leigh college to study the motor engineering course that he had planned to do. Is there not a real risk that taking the lifeline of EMA away from young people will lower the aspirations of children in secondary school? Better participation, attendance, retention and results, supporting choice and keeping hope alive for all kids-surely it all adds up to a compelling educational case for keeping EMA.