Education maintenance allowance for 6th form

My elder daughter's just started 6th form and is entitled to the EMA which any of you with similar aged children will no doubt be aware is an allowance worth up to £30/week paid straight into their bank accounts.

A difference of opinion (OK, sullen row) has emerged whereby we have different ideas of what this allowance is supposed to cover!

She will get the maximum of £30 which in my view should cover:
school dinners
books & equipment
school trips (or contribution towards if expensive)
clothes for school

She already has a (well paid) job and up until now has also had £5/week pocket money.

She is adamant that she shouldn't have to pay for her school food out of the EMA whereas I regard it as being for expenses associated with being at school. If she really wanted to save money she could always make herself a packed lunch! I've always suspected she saw it as basically a supplemental form of pocket money rather than gradually taking financial responsibility for herself, which I think is part of the idea.

What's your view and those of you with 6th formers, how have you agreed finances between you?

Need this one resolving before moving onto my next target - getting her to pay for calls made to all her friends' mobiles from the home landline!


  • What about cutting the pocket money and halving the school lunch allowance.

    My daughter has always needed more money than she gets and my son somehow seems to manage and never asks for any extra money at all.

    Frankly I have sometimes felt a bit mean when insisting they learn to budget but they need to learn to stand on their own two feet and realise money is limited.
  • I'd make her use the money for her meals - that is what it is there for. Once I started working at 16 I didn't get any pocket money.

    The sooner she learns to budget the better especially if she wants to go to uni. It will help her avoid future debts.

    She should count herself lucky - I didn't get bribed to go to 6th form (completely different subjuct)
  • subjuct = subject (maybe if I'd been bribed I would have learnt to type ;-))
  • Before I say anything, I should point out that I don't have kids, or any nieces/nephews so I really know nothing.

    Why not try something like:

    She buys all the stuff on your list out of her allowance.

    If she budgets well and still has money left in her account at the end of the term, you will give her £x as a reward.

    (From which you deduct the cost of the telephone calls, but don't tell her that until payday).

    In effect she is saving, and can use the reward money for something special rather than frittering it away a few pounds a week.
  • The clue is in the title Education Maintenance Allowance.

    My son has just started 6th form and his is used to maintain and fuel his motorcycle which he uses to ride down to the local railwy station to catch the train to Sheffield to get on the tram and the bus to school.

    Leaves at 7am gets back at 6pm.

    Money just about covers it.

    He doesn't get any pocket money, but does work around the place for which I pay him the going rate, which generally funds his social life. Other stuff is by negotiation, the main understanding from my side being that he does some work (school work that is)

    We have the occasional cross word, but not much really - mostly its disagreements about how a certain job should be done.

  • Oh yes, we've had this one. "I can put it towards my holidays mummy." Oh no you can't! Have also told her that, now she has a job (paying £30 per Saturday, btw!) I will no longer give her pocket money. Not an easy conversation...

    EMA is going on her train fare. End of story!
  • You can block calls to mobile numbers from a landline as well.

    Eldest daughter landed me with a £150 + phonebill with this trick - so I went through the itemised phonebill and blocked all the mobile numbers

  • At 6th form I didn't get EMA (2 yrs ago) - parents paid for rail ticket, bicycle & maintenance to get to station, packed lunches, & £20/month for clothes, social life, & non-essentials etc. (also got minimum wage for occasional secretarial work for Dad's small buisness, & occasional babysitting - probably average £5/week in termtime).
    I think being used to not having a huge amount of disposable income (Cambridgeshire's expensive, & living miles out meant transport was expensive too) actually served me well when I got to Uni - as did being in charge of budgeting my monthly allowance for myself.
    I don't think a Saturday job would have been realistic given that travel was theoretically 3 hrs/day (& being on the Hatfield/Potters Bar train line 4-5 wasn't unusual) [travel times aren't as bad as they sound - a lot of that was cycling & I'd have wanted the excercise anyway, & can revise on the train]. I would worry a bit if an all-day Saturday job is necessary to go out at all, as then it's more time taken away from the course - maybe the price of a few drinks or a cinema ticket once a week would be reasonable?

    I think you need to make it clear what she'll be expected to pay for from the EMA (hopefully with a bit left over) - then she can keep anything she doesn't spend - this might encourage her to think about the relative priorities of things like packed/bought lunches, secondhand/trendy clothes, & going out twice a week / holiday with friends in summer.

    The Phone Co-op (sorry, not sure of their website) do a thing where you have to dial an access code to use the phone, & the bill is itemised by access code - this is really useful for student houses (particularly if one housemate spends life on phone to a girlfriend in America!), but also might help if you take daughter's calls out of her budget?

    Incidentally, under the current student loan system she won't have disposable income of anywhere near £30/week.
  • My lad left 6th form last year - he didn't get EMA. Is this a new thing? He got himself a Saturday/Sunday job, but I kept paying him pocket money. The deal was - if you can be bothered to work for yourself, I'll help - if you can't, then I won't. I think the incentive to have a few bob rather than nothing was clear to him.
  • don't know how this EMA thing works but there was only family allowance available when I was in 6th Form (about £10 per week I think).

    My parents basically gave me this and also money for my lunch (£10 per week). I also worked part time in a shop, as well as any other work I could get my hands on.

    I was lucky enough to live in an area far enough from school (about 5 miles) but with enough kids to attend the school to use the free school bus.

    But I got no other money from my parents, so had to pay for all my own clothes, books, entertainment etc...... I obviously lived at home at that time so didn't pay towards that or my food I ate whilst at home.

    The reason my parents gave me the family allowance and dinner money was so that I didn't have to work far too often and it risk effecting my education.

    Didn't have the problem with mobile bills as hardly anyone had one when I was at school!!
  • same thoughts of my parents SnottBox. They could see that I wanted to earn money but didn't want me to leave school (and I didn't want to leave school).

    I somehow managed to earn more in part time jobs than most of my friends who had left school at 16, so it was quite good really!!
  • Hammerite - they sound like very very wise people.............
  • Nah

    Parents are embarrasing, old fashioned, and listen to really uncool music.

    But Wise ?? - never


  • They probably are!!

    6th form isn't the time to be worrying about money though, university is!! I will hopefully finish paying my student loan in March.
  • I'm wounded! But is EMA a new thing?
  • Thanks for your thoughts and experiences, it's helpful to compare notes. Also, duck girl, good point about what she'll be needing to get used to at uni. Obviously travel costs are a major part for most of you; we're hoping she'll get a free bus pass on the basis of the weird and wonderful school transport policy in Cumbria.

    I'm going to stick to my guns on the school dinners.

    I don't have a problem with the Saturday job; and 6th form is not so demanding as to need a whole day at the weekend for homework. She earned a lot of money during the interminably long summer hols since finishing her exams, and appears to have blown the lot so she'll have to live with the consequences.

    Thanks for the tip about blocking mobile calls, I'm on a deal with Toucan which costs £18/month including broadband and free calls evenings/weekends. Blocking most numbers seems easier than arguing over the bill, we have enough arguments already!

  • Young people have got the rest of their lives to work. Will probably not get to retire until they're 70. Spinning out childhood is probably a good thing.

    I don't envy FR jnr. having 7am until 6pm days with some farm labouring on top of that!

    I think 6th formers have to work a lot harder now than 20 years ago as there's far more pressure to get results, both from the school and for University admissions purposes. Maybe a little holiday job but working during term time seems excessive.
  • At college my parent didn't give me pocket money, but paid for my books etc. I had a supermarket job at the same time which helped pay for going out etc, if i was short, but they were satisfied i was doing my best then they would help out

    6th form, college, uni isn't all work, work, work. The social side of things is important as well, so the cost of going out with friends etc should IMO be seen as part of being at 6th form, rather than a luxury.

    Agree she has to learn to stand on her own two feet, but make life to difficult, and any desire for uni etc may go.

    Difficult balance to good luck
  • BR

    I don't force him to work you know. He says he finds it quite refreshing to do something outside and "mindless"

    I just pay him the going rate for what he does.
  • I'm with FR on this one. SnottBox Minor wasn't forced to work at weekends - he wanted to to augment his income, such as it was.
    Yes, children have the rest of their lives to worry about work, but at 17/18/19 they need to be starting to either take responsibility for themselves, or at least learning how to.
    You don't get anything for nothing, and all that. I considered it my duty as a parent to show him how to fend for himself - and all in the comfort of his own home!
  • FR:
    Parents are embarrasing, old fashioned, and listen to really uncool music.'

    Depends on how old they are - Dad gets quite cross that I nick his Pink Floyd albums - for some reason he doesn't understand this great compliment that I'm paying him ;)

    I think Saturday jobs depend on the circumstances.
    My weekends generally looked like this:
    Saturday - am. odd jobs, Aerobics class with Mum, Tesco's. pm coursework.
    Sunday am church, pm help at local special school.

    I didn't get much time at home on weekdays - basically I'd usually get back at 8pm, eat & sleep - & I'd usually go out on Fridays if at all 'cos it saved travelling time.

    - being something of a swot I did actually spend most of my spare time doing coursework, & spent Sunday afternoons volunteering at a local special school - partly 'cos i liked it & it was a great relief from the rest of the week, & partly 'cos it looked good on a UCAS form - & I think that did me a lot more good in the long term than if I'd had to work in Tesco's simply for the cash (I'm now doing a psychology degree, & having stacks of 'work experience' from about age 14 is supposed to be really useful when it comes to looking for a postgrad job). Given I'd also got a really long journey on weekdays, I don't think it would have been possible to sustain a regular part-time job.
    I suppose I'd want to ask what else they'd be doing with their time if they weren't working - if it's something you think is valuable for them (& a certain amount of mucking-about is - i don't think i did nearly enough), then probably best to avoid a p/t job if you can get by without.
    Casual work can be a lot better 'cos then it doesn't have to be done during 'cramming' - I was lucky 'cos Dad's self-employed so there was always work on tap in the hols, but I also did babysitting - I ended up being known as the local 'special needs' babysitter - which again has helped with my Uni course - & I also did the odd bit of facepainting, more-or-less by mistake after being asked to help at the church fete.
  • DG - you're not at Luffbra are you, by any chance? SnottBox Minor is studying Psychology there.....
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