Participation by 16-19 year olds in education and training - Education Contents

Annex 1: Note of an informal meeting with students at BSix Brooke House Sixth Form College

The Committee held a meeting on 18 May 2011 with four students from BSix (Brooke House Sixth Form College) in Hackney. Two were in the first year of study; two were in their second year. All were receiving EMA.

The following points were made:

  • Even under the special transitional arrangements for existing EMA claimants, students who would in future receive £20 per week rather than £30 were still worse off
  • There would be a stigma in having to declare poverty to the college
  • EMA might not necessarily lead to A* grades, but it helped to keep young people in education and constructive activity
  • Some people studied at college because it was a stepping-stone to university; others studied in order to make more informed career moves
  • Students had had difficulty in finding jobs, for instance in local shops
  • EMA imposed discipline on students and was a motive to attend college; it also actively attracted students to college
  • EMA allowed students from families which were not well-off to feel parity with those who were better-off financially
  • The replacement bursary fund had indeed been raised to £180 million, but only because of public pressure
  • Travel difficulties for students in rural areas were acknowledged. Although students had the benefit of free bus travel in London, there were students from other more distant parts of London for whom it was more practical to use trains to get to and from the college. These students had to cover the cost of tickets themselves; so removal of EMA would be a deterrent in their case
  • Most of the group believed that education should be compulsory only to 16, although one suggested that it was best to continue to 18 if the right provision was available. It was also said that there should be more Apprenticeships, which offered a way into the workforce
  • For one of the group, careers guidance at school had been "laughable"; another had used the local Connexions office and had tried a number of different courses before knowing "where they were going". Another mentioned that the careers advice on DirectGov was "quite good".

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Prepared 19 July 2011