Tower Hamlets Council launched a new scheme yesterday to fill the gap left by government’s scrapping of the national Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
At a launch event held at Sir John Cass School, in Stepney Green, yesterday the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman unveiled the Mayor’s Education Award.
The award, paid in two £200 instalments, will be available to 16 to 19 year olds who have been Tower Hamlets residents for at least three years and will be dependent on educational attendance and improvement. The first instalment will be given out in January 2012.
Mayor Rahman said: “Scrapping the EMA was a mean and short-sighted move from our government… developing a replacement for it was something I was keen to do. The Mayor’s Education Award is designed to keep dreams alive; it gives students who might otherwise have been forced to abandon their studies a second chance. It is a demonstration of my commitment to ensure that poverty will not hold back our young people’s ambitions.”
Tower Hamlets borough has the highest rate of child poverty in England with 53% living under the poverty line. 76% of local children were on the now scrapped EMA. The new Mayor’s Award will augment the 16-19 bursary, the government’s scaled back EMA replacement.
Hajerah, 17, a sixth form student at Sir John Cass who is hoping to study History at university next year said: “The EMA allowed me to buy my own books and the things I needed such as food and travel, it made a huge difference. A replacement scheme like this will help so much as it’ll stop students from concentrating just on money and allow them to work on their grades instead.”
Speaking at the launch Vanessa Ogden, head teacher of Mulberry School for Girls in Shadwell, said that the Mayor’s Education Award is: “a financial investment symbolic of the community of Tower Hamlets and the importance and value it puts on education.”
Talking directly to the 15 school students from Sir John Cass School who attended the launch she said: “I know you will take advantage of this opportunity and prove to everyone it was the right thing to do.”