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What do they mean?: Education maintenance allowance

This is what schools should get to put right those annoying little glitches which affect the smooth running of the educational process.

The sort of coursework equivalent of a nasty clunking in the big end. It will help pay for a man in a blue coat with a pen behind his ear (which is one more than the school can afford). He will turn up three days late ("Sorry, Luv, got a big job on dahn the CTC"), peer at your lesson plans, shake his head a lot, suck through his teeth, and then tell you the whole thing will have to be scrapped because it doesn't comply with regulation BF29KD.

You have never heard of this regulation, and you hate this man very much.

He will then offer to put it right for you, for a sum far exceeding the meagre maintenance allowance.

By the time he leaves you will feel incompetent, humiliated and miserably aware that you now won't be able to afford any pens next year either.

In fact, the education maintenance allowance is another of the Department for Education and Skill's multi-syllabic euphemisms. It's a bribe.

It means "Hey, Kid, we know you can leave school any time now, but you stay on and we'll make it worth your while, know what I'm saying?"

It means that all those psychopathic layabouts, the ones you thought were finally off to take up crime full time, are going to turn up next term for a lucrative dose of further education, boasting of the pound;30 a week the government is giving them for doing so.

We at St Jude's, appalled by the prospect of several more years of Maurice and his cronies, are now lobbying for a similar sweetener. This we are provisionally calling a Sanity Maintenance Allowance, commonly referred to as a BPG (Bung Per Maurice).

Most of this will go towards riot gear and tranquillisers, but we are hoping there will be enough left over to buy a pen. It is possible that Maurice and co will not like the pen, given that they will have to stay in it for up to eight hours a day (including detention).

Well, that's fine with us. In fact, everything will be fine with us: that's the whole point of mainlining Valium.

Tim Homfray

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