Posts Tagged ‘Dan Howells’

Think again on EMA: poorer students need it

04/01/2011, 12:30:07 PM

By Dan Howells

1 January saw the closing of new applications for the education maintenance allowance. So what impact has EMA had, and what will be the impact of removing or replacing the scheme with a more “targeted approach”?

First, a few uncomfortable facts.

Only one in twelve of the poorest children lived with a degree-educated parent at nine months, compared with one in five of the richest children (Waldfogel and Washbrook, 2010).

In 2008, 55% of secondary schools in the 10% most deprived parts of England failed to achieve 30% of children getting five good GCSEs including English and maths. This is compared 3% cent in the 10% of least deprived areas.

According to the office of fair access (2010) “Bright children from the poorest homes are 7 times less likely to go to top universities than their wealthier peers”.

Just 16% of students at Russell group universities are from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Compare this to 100 elite schools accounting for one third of admissions to Oxford or Cambridge during the last five years. (more…)

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Browne was wrong. A graduate tax is fair.

18/12/2010, 12:30:22 PM

by Dan Howells

I felt numb last week. As I did in 2005 when “top-up” fees were passed through Parliament under a Labour government. It felt then, as it did last week, that an ever-growing price tag on education presented a much larger barrier for pupils from the poorest backgrounds.

But there is a difference between last week’s reforms and those of 2005. Five years ago, record numbers of young people were attending university. This was coupled with record government investment in higher education institutions (HEIs). Under Tory-Lib Dem plans, record student fees are combined with massive cuts to the teaching budgets of our universities. Bowne says that his “proposals introduce more investment for higher education. HEIs must persuade students that they should ‘pay more’ in order to ‘get more’. The money will follow the student”. With record cuts to teaching budgets, I wonder how exactly will students get more?

I work in schools and have spoken to many pupils who are considering applying to university in the next few years. Not one has said to me that with these reforms they are more likely to go to university.

This begs the question: is there a better way? (more…)

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