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Day of action over education grant

Students, staff and trade unions will hold a day of action on Monday in protest at government plans to axe a grant for the poorest teenagers.

Colleges and sixth forms across England are expected to hold lunchtime protests against the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA).

The EMA is a weekly grant of up to £30 given to 16-18-year-olds from the most disadvantaged homes to help them stay in education.

Protesters claim that receiving the support is often the decisive factor for poor teenagers in deciding whether to continue their studies.

The action comes just days after tens of thousands of demonstrators descended on Parliament to protest at the Government's plans to treble university tuition fees.

There were ugly scenes of violence as police and protesters clashed. Missiles including snooker balls and paint balls were thrown at officers, graffiti was daubed on statues including one of Sir Winston Churchill in Parliament Square, and the Prince of Wales' car was attacked.

The Supreme Court and the Treasury building were also targeted by vandals, along with bus stops, benches, sign posts and shop windows.

Organisers of the EMA protests said the demonstrations were expected to be peaceful.

Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union (UCU) said: "The EMA is a vital lifeline for many students in this country and can be the difference between people being able to study at college or being priced out. Withdrawing the EMA will hit some of the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, as well as the colleges that are there to serve them."

Some of the most deprived areas will be hit if the EMA is scrapped, organisers said. In some areas of Birmingham, Leicester and the North West, up to four fifths of students received the support.


From Belfast Telegraph