Immediately after the TUC anti-cuts demonstration, Tory education secretary Michael Gove announced a concession on the government’s abolition of Education Maintenance Allowances for sixth form students.
The so-called replacement for EMAs was planned to amount to only about 10 percent of the £560 million the old scheme cost. Now Gove has produced funding of £180 million. He also announced that those who began their courses in 2009-10 will receive EMA at full value for their second year, and a more generous “phase out” deal than before for those who began their courses last autumn.
All this is very limited — a 60 percent cut in EMA rather than a 90 percent cut. It is also far more vulnerable to arbitrary decisions and manipulation, with money distributed by college principals. Nonetheless, without the huge protests by school and college students last year, and the protests on Saturday, it is unlikely the Tories would have made even these concessions.
The Save EMA campaign is a very mild, Miliband-Labour, respectable outfit, and played no real role in the wave of action last year. But it drew the right conclusion when it commented: “Tonight we can celebrate but tomorrow the fight continues!”