Secondary teachers in an east London borough may see an increase in student numbers next year, following the local authority's announcement that it is to offer grants to students in place of the now scrapped Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA).
Students in Tower Hamlets will now be able to benefit from the Mayor's Education Award (MEA), which will provide 16 to 19-year-olds with the equivalent financial support they would have received under the EMA.
The East End borough has the highest level of child poverty in England and the EMA played a large role in making post-16 education a reality for many living there.
Over three-quarters (76 per cent) of young people living in Tower Hamlets were recipients of the EMA before it was abolished to be replaced by a less comprehensive bursary system.
Launching the MEA, the Mayor of Tower Hamlets Luftur Rahman said that young people in his borough were profoundly affected by the decision to scrap the EMA.
"[The] EMA enabled young people from low income families to stay on in education and training. It allowed them to raise their hopes and aspirations," he said.
"The Mayor’s Education Award is designed to keep those dreams alive; it gives students who might otherwise have been forced to abandon their studies, a second chance."
Now young people who have been living in Tower Hamlets for more than three years will be able to claim the grant, which subsidises the bursary introduced by the government in place of the EMA.
The MEA will be paid in two £200 instalments, though it will be conditional upon attendance as well as educational improvement.
Schools in Tower Hamlets are the third most improved across all local authorities in England.
While in 2006 only 34 per cent of pupils achieved five A* to C GCSE grades, this figure reached 60.4 per cent in the summer of 2011.