Once again, The ConDem government is failing to learn from history and are insisting on reforming everything they can, as quickly as they can. This is what they did in the early 80's. Instead of a gradual withdrawl of support for mines and maunfacturing, which would allow people to adjust, find new jobs, re-train and new businesses to start in a good economy - Thatcher and her chums, decided to do everything in one go and create a state of chaos.
A generation of children grew up with one or both parents out of work, where the only aspiration they ever knew was 'Do what you need to get by'. Many fathers had to find work in other parts of the country or they had to work excessive hours in order to earn a wage.
How is this relevant?
The children that grew up under Thatcher and Major (for Cameron must accept some blame) are now parents themselves. the changes and support that came, came too late and these parents are now setting the same example to todays children. Some of these children need to be encouraged to stay in school at all costs, so that they do not perpetuate the lack of ambition in their children. To remove this payment now would tell these young people that we don't value their education - so why should they.
Many of us will be wishing that we had the chance to go back and re-live a couple of key moments in our education, such as that question in my maths paper that I know I got wrong and could have made it an A - or maybe I should have read 'Pursuation' before sitting my A level on it (I got bored after the first chapter and went rugby training - read the study guide about ten times though). I did not value my education back then - maybe something like an EMA would have helped me - not neccesarily with travel costs (I walked to school) but it would have made it important and that is my point.
Expecting children from the lower end of achievement to value their education is wrong. I agree these should be the people who value it most as it is their route to personal improvement - but believe me that is not a reality for a large section of society.
I would like to change it slightly however. I would like to see an element of effort and behaviour as well as attendance in order to receive the money. This may help to counter act some of the issues in schools today and give these young people a realisation that their education matters to everyone in society. Without it and combined with the 'Change everything quick - before we get voted out again' attitude, will mean that we lose another generation of parents in ten or twenty years time and we will need to find another way to solve their problems.
These are the people who will pay for my retirement and I believe that they should be supported more and not less.