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Caithness News Bulletins January 2004

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A new scheme aimed at encouraging young people from low-income households to remain in full-time education between the ages of 16 to 19 will be introduced into Highland Schools from August 2004 and is expected to be fully operational by 2006.

Funded by the Scottish Executive, the new 'Education Maintenance Allowances' will be administered by The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Service and will replace the existing system of Higher School Bursaries.

Councillor Andy Anderson, Chairman of The Highland Council's Education, Culture and Sport Committee said: "Any way in which we can encourage our young people to extend their educational opportunities as much as possible is to be welcomed. The new EMA scheme is helping to meet the needs of students from low income households and to keep them included in education."

Through the scheme students could receive up to 30 per week paid directly to them if they live on a household income of 19,000 or less; or 20 on a household income of 19,001 to 23,000; or 10 on a household income from between 23,001 to 30,000. For good progress, pupils may also be eligible for two bonus payments of 150 each paid in January and June or July each year.

Not just aimed at children from low-income households the EMA scheme also focuses on vulnerable young people including those with disabilities, behavioural and mental health problems; students who are teenage parents, homeless or estranged from their parents; are in care or are care leavers and who are or have been young offenders.

Any young person awarded an EMA may still be entitled to other sources of financial support such as travel allowances, however, young people in full time employment or on the New Deal education option, or are on government supported training schemes will not be eligible for EMAs.