No payback yet from attendance allowances

2nd February 2001 at 00:00
The jury is still out on the only experiment in Scotland which provides a financial incentive to pupils to stay on at school, although mninisters are still determined to extend it to other parts of the country.

The educational maintenance allowance has been running for two school sessions in East Ayrshire, but officials will report to next week's education committee that "firm conclusions cannot be drawn".

The allowance pays up to pound;40 a week to persuade pupils to stay on into fifth year, with a maximum of pound;75 inbonus payments for attendance and achievement. The cost of the East Ayrshire project was nearly pound;800,000 last year. It is also being piloted in 46 education authorities throughout the UK.

The cautious verdict from East Ayrshire at this stage is that, while the 600 pupils who are taking part this session welcome the scheme, the statistics merely "suggest" an improvement in attendance and performance. The Executive is to look at pupil performance in more detail in one of the East Ayrshire secondary schools.

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