Finsbury Park teenagers can benefit from bursary scheme to help more stay in education
By poppy_smith | Saturday, October 13, 2012, 18:05
Islington Council is set to launch a bursary scheme that will help more teenagers in the Finsbury Park stay in further education or training.
The council plans to 'top up' the financial support offered through colleges by the Education Funding Agency to students aged 16-19, who might otherwise have to drop out of education due to lack of funds. This follows the Government cutting the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA), which helped many Islington young people to stay on in education.
If the recommendations are agreed at a meeting of Islington Council's Executive next week (18 October), Islington students will be able to claim up to £300 per year to help pay for a range of equipment and activities needed to complete their studies. This might include books, special clothing, residential trips and travel costs to college, university open days and work experience.
The grants will be available to all Islington resident students who were eligible for free school meals in their final year of secondary school. Students must also be moving immediately into post-16 education or training and must be studying full time.
Islington Council was approached to develop the bursary scheme by students at City and Islington College (CANDI) working with organisation Shoreditch Citizens. The group, led by Hannah Eseku, Kehinde Ibrahim, and Josh Garfield, undertook training in community leadership, organised by Shoreditch Citizens, to develop their proposal. Over the last year they have been working with Islington Council to bring to life the local scheme that will support students who otherwise would struggle to continue in education.
Islington Council's executive member for children and families, Cllr Richard Watts, said:
"We're on the side of young people in Islington and want to make the borough a fairer place, where all teenagers can have the chance to continue their education or move into training, regardless of their financial situation.
"While the Government is cutting the EMA that enables poorer students to do this, Islington Council has been working closely with local students to find a way to help. I've been impressed by the commitment of the students I've worked with on this. Jointly we've been able to develop this bursary scheme that will make a real difference to the job opportunities available to young Islington people once they enter the world of work."
Islington students will be able to apply for a bursary either directly through their college if they study in the borough, or through the council. More information will be provided to students through schools and colleges at the end of October.
Dan Firth, Lead Organiser for Shoreditch Citizens, said:
"In the current economic climate we have to ensure young people are given a fighting chance to get work. Getting qualifications is crucial to getting a decent job and if students are forced to leave their college due to a lack of money, it is just going to add to unemployment and rising inequality.
"This bursary scheme will make a real difference to the future job prospects of many young people from Islington. The young leaders, Hannah, Kehinde and Josh to name a few, who led this campaign are a fantastic example of the difference that young people can make in their community if they are actively engaged in politics and democracy and taught how to make change happen."
The recommendations will be presented at Islington Council's executive meeting on Thursday 18 October. The report can be viewed online at http://bit.ly/OThThQ