UK Kids to Get £40 a Week to Stay in School.
June 2, 2002 11:15 AM   Subscribe

UK Kids to Get £40 a Week to Stay in School. Schoolchildren are to be paid £40 a week to stay on at school as part of a multi-billion-pound revolution in secondary schools in England and Wales.
posted by ncurley (37 comments total)
This passage is the important one to limit people from flying too far off the handle:

Children of parents earning up to £30,000 are likely to get a share of the money, with those at the top end of the scale getting £5 a week. Those whose parents earn £13,000 or under will get the full £40.

Even with the sliding scale, I still have a bit of bad taste in my mouth. Right now, my school pays me to attend school. I earned it through scholarships and a graduate fellowship [which I have to do research to hold onto]. I see this in a completely different light. Is this like the US 'vouchers" and the like? I think not, it seems a bit more like a bribe. But if the money could be tracked and filtered to school only purchases, I would be a little more at ease with this idea.
posted by plemeljr at 11:23 AM on June 2, 2002

This is, by far, one of the most asinine ideas I've ever seen. Instead of rewarding good students for attending school, they are bribing everyone (read: financially disadvantaged). To make matters worse, instead of establishing seminars on how to become a better parent, or why school is vital for your future (all just thoughts on the fly, I have no real solution to keep kids in school), they'd rather throw money at the problem. Give me a break...(I would love to rant about European socialists, but hey, no need for a flame war this early in the thread)
posted by BlueTrain at 11:38 AM on June 2, 2002

Actually this isn't such a bad idea. Suppose parents use this instead of pocket-money, so effectively the government is replacing money that parents would have given to their children anyway, but making sure that they go to school. Seems reasonable.
posted by Gaz at 11:52 AM on June 2, 2002

I'm speechless.
posted by mikegre at 12:10 PM on June 2, 2002

why do the poor kids get more? i figure that'll really piss off the not poor enough kids.
posted by techgnollogic at 12:18 PM on June 2, 2002

Of course the whole thing will only last a few months before the Daily Mail does an expose on how some kids are using the money to buy drugs...
posted by Gaz at 12:21 PM on June 2, 2002

Market incentives, yo! Actually, there is already something like this in the United States; it's called the Federal School Lunch Program, and apparently it's highly effective. Just goes to show you that people are much more amenable to giving away food than they are to giving away money.
posted by skoosh at 12:27 PM on June 2, 2002

I don't like the idea, but it may work. Consider the average low income family ..£40/week for nothing is good ! But I'd rather pay sudents who get good grades than pay each and every student...wasn't education a-good-thing one
should have ?

It looks like a victorian age with multimedia.
posted by elpapacito at 12:30 PM on June 2, 2002

Bear in mind taht kids are compelled by law to attend school. It's not as though they have a choice. Maybe this will give them a more positive attitude.
posted by davidgentle at 12:39 PM on June 2, 2002

I wonder how £40 X 30 or so students could improve a classroom if it were spent on upgrading materials, equipment and instruction?

I am all for bribes though. Highly effective way to motivate people. My only issue is that the bribes should be contingent on a bit more than simply showing up. Unless the goal is to train future civil servants.
posted by srboisvert at 12:45 PM on June 2, 2002

davidgentle: The money is for children who are over 16. There is no legal obligation for them to attend school.

I'm not sure about it either, and I seem to remember a study on extrinsic and intrinsic motivating factors on learning showed that bribery is not half as motivating as some may think.
posted by crustygeek at 12:52 PM on June 2, 2002

They could save it for college, oh wait, they don't pay for college.

Well, it would be a good thing to have here in the states. As you progress further into high school, you earn money held by Uncle Sam. Upon your graduation and enrollment into college (& signing draft cards for the boys), they dole it out to you for tuition, books, and living expenses.

I would pay more taxes for that, because I'd like to have children one day.
posted by password at 1:28 PM on June 2, 2002

sort of reinforces the notion that schools aren't there so much to educate as create productive (paid) members of society :) they're our future!
posted by kliuless at 1:33 PM on June 2, 2002

If you aren't making that much money, you might be inclined to ask your children to go out into the workforce as soon as they can.

Fouty pounds a week might be enough incentive to stay out of the workforce so that they can get into better jobs later. Schools have always been there to create productive members of society. We just hope some of them choose to learn while they're there.
posted by witchycal at 3:04 PM on June 2, 2002

What a lovely socialist government.
posted by stevridie at 3:29 PM on June 2, 2002

Socialist government? Where?
posted by Summer at 3:47 PM on June 2, 2002

Actually, password, laws have been changed in the last few years basically getting rid of the "free" UK university education. Students now have to pay tuition and are graduating with debt, which is a situation that didn't exist before. (It's not as bad as the US yet, but that's where everybody fears it's going.) If this payout is indeed going to the poorest teenagers, it might well help them afford more of a college education than they could have expected otherwise.

I'm curious about the agreement the kids have to sign. They have to show up AND "complete their courses". Does that mean they have to pass? I'd feel a little better about the system if it rewards them for more than mere attendance.
posted by web-goddess at 5:00 PM on June 2, 2002

Talk about socialism... In the town I live in, people can get paid minimum wage to attend GED courses. Yet another case, like the "digital divide", where those of us that work for what we own subsidize those that won't.

I managed to hack my way through high school, while working part time to boot...

posted by Samizdata at 10:28 PM on June 2, 2002

There are much worse ways to spend money. Even you soulless flinty-eyed bean counters who worry only about what's in it for you should be happy that the kids most likely to drop out and become a financial burden to you as adults might instead, for a relatively cheap carrot, stay in school and become productive little cogs in your cash-hoarding machines. The UK government didn't do this just for the fuck of it. They've tried it in pilot projects and seen that it works well enough, by their calculations, to make it worth the money in the long term.
posted by pracowity at 11:04 PM on June 2, 2002

What's up with all these accusations of "soullessness" against people who work for their living, and enjoy it? "Corporate drone", "bean counters"... How about "competent, hard-working people"?
posted by dagny at 12:54 AM on June 3, 2002

Corporate drone was your idea. And one could be a competent, hard-working, soulless, bean-counting corporate drone. If you see yourself as anything like that, fine, but I didn't accuse you. My point was that, even for the sort of low semi-person who sees children's education as nothing more than a financial investment, this should be good news because it appears to be a good financial investment.
posted by pracowity at 1:08 AM on June 3, 2002

password: we pay for college. Either that or the £1,500 pound invoice for tuition fees I've got here from my college is a terrible, terrible mistake. It's still subsidised (it really costs about £6,000 a year if you come from outside the EU). But we pay.

Note again that you don't pay if your parents don't earn above a certain amount and with sliding scale from then on similar to this.
posted by nedrichards at 4:35 AM on June 3, 2002

this should be good news because it appears to be a good financial investment.

It may be a good investment when viewed solely from the financial angle, but it's a scary one when viewed ethically. The idea that kids have to be bribed to do something that's ultimately to their benefit more than anyone else's is frightening. It's like parents who tie their kids' allowances into things like finishing all their homework, brushing their teeth and not having any bad behaviour -- you're now putting a value on things which ought not have to be bought and paid for.

As Blue Train suggested earlier in the thread, why not spend a bit of money investigating why kids drop out after GCSE's and addressing those problems? Why not spend that money on improvements to facilities, equipment and curricula so that school remains interesting enough to motivate older students to stay and continue to learn?

As someone pointed out, a school with 30 students each receiving the maximum benefit, could use just one week's worth of this handout to purchase a computer. (Maybe two, I'm not sure how educational pricing schemes run in the UK.) What's better, a week's worth of pocket money that can be blown in an hour, or a computer?

And gee, £1,500 annual tuition? Even converted at the highest exchange rates it's about a tenth of the annual tuition at the school I attended -- regardless of how much your parents made -- and I graduated more than 15 years ago. My heart weeps buckets and buckets of tears.
posted by Dreama at 5:39 AM on June 3, 2002

Well, if you want to moralize:

Teenagers are still developing and frequently do not have the long view in mind. Especially when confonted with financial pressures, they frequently make casual decisions about things that will effect the rest of their lives. Drop out and work in a factory for a year and you're almost certainly going to be an overworked flesh robot for the rest of your life; stay in school and get a white collar job and you've got a different life ahead of you. Same kid, just one casual decision different.

The real moral question is whether it is moral to let so many children drop out for short-term financial reasons when it would cost you so little to keep many of them in school and on the way to better lives. It is immoral to not try harder to keep them in school.

(And if anyone's still counting beans, remember that taxes from their increased incomes will go towards paying future generations to stay in school; they aren't getting a free ride, and you're benefitting from the improved workforce in the nation.)
posted by pracowity at 8:06 AM on June 3, 2002

The real moral question is whether it is moral to let so many children drop out for short-term financial reasons when it would cost you so little to keep many of them in school and on the way to better lives. It is immoral to not try harder to keep them in school.

It sounds to me like you're rationalizing the bribe.

It also sounds like you believe that students are so fickle as to stay in school for an extra couple of bucks (pounds) a month. Teenagers aren't idiots, and this legislation supports the theory that they aren't capable of making promising, life decisions on their own.

I work with a bunch of college graduates at my part-time job. They're anywhere from 25-31 years old, all with degrees. They're making $7-11/hour. I'm sorry, but a college education does not make you successful. It definitely puts you in the correct direction, but only you can decide your fate. No bribe will make you think for the future.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:27 AM on June 3, 2002

Dreama: I wasn't saying that it was the end of the world by any means. I understand that after my degree I'm likely to make so much more money than otherwise that it's a stupidly good deal. £1,500 for the ammount of fun I'm having learning at uni is brilliant value. Just trying to correct the 'you guys don't pay for anything at all in your socialist hell' thing.
posted by nedrichards at 10:06 AM on June 3, 2002

I work with a bunch of college graduates at my part-time job. They're anywhere from 25-31 years old, all with degrees.

Heh...obviously they have degrees. Whoops.
posted by BlueTrain at 10:19 AM on June 3, 2002

> It sounds to me like you're rationalizing the bribe.
> It also sounds like you believe...

It sounds to me as if you're perhaps rationalizing greed and indifference. You use the word "bribe" when "incentive" is much more appropriate -- providing incentive for potential dropouts to stay in school and work for their betterment is not a bad thing.

It also sounds as if you didn't quite read the article. They tried it in pilot projects. Sufficient numbers of students are "so fickle as to stay in school for" what converts to nearly 60 US dollars a week for the poorer kids, a pretty good lump of cash for those most needing it. Using the money to instead put computers in schools would be foolish if the kids were leaving to flip burgers.

If this thing turns out not to work on a national scale and over the long term, they can discontinue it. If it works as it appears it will work, however, then it's good for everyone and should be continued.
posted by pracowity at 10:20 AM on June 3, 2002

The nationwide roll-out of the scheme comes after a series of pilot projects revealed that the number of children who stayed on at school increased by 5 per cent if they were paid. In areas of most disadvantage, where teenagers get the highest payments, the figure was 11 per cent.

No, pracowity, I did read the article. I also know to ask questions and make sure that what I've read is truthful. Here are a few questions for you...

1) Did they graduate?
2) Did they goto college?
3) Did they drop out of college because they were no longer given "incentives"?
4) How did they use the cash?
5) Could that money have been used for better books or better sports programs to keep a child in school?
6) Is this thread simply assuming that "incentives" are better than the alternative of allowing teens to make their own choices on life?

It sounds to me as if you're perhaps rationalizing greed and indifference.

Hmm, calling me greedy and indifferent...why? Because I'd rather see the money be used toward students who show promise rather than those who'd rather run away from a difficult situation?
posted by BlueTrain at 10:36 AM on June 3, 2002

> Did they? ... Did they? [etc.]

I don't know. It doesn't say. As to whether the money could have been spent on other things, no one said the program will take money away from sports programs or books. Based on the article we are discussing, I must suppose that the results of pilot programs were promising enough to continue with the full program. If you have better information, you should have presented it. Otherwise, you questions are at best premature.

> Is this thread simply assuming that "incentives" are
> better than the alternative of allowing teens to make
> their own choices on life?

Until they're out of the house and out of school and old enough to vote and almost not teens, teens rarely make choices with any sort of independence, and even then life is one big series of pressures to do what others want them to do. There is always pressure. This happens to be very good pressure, pressure that is good for the child and the child's family and the place in which the child lives. It promises to be especially beneficial to poorer children and their families, a factor that I hope does not influence your distaste for it.

> Hmm, calling me greedy and indifferent

Nope. I said that perhaps you were justifying greed and indifference, perhaps in others. Your repeated misuse of "bribe" suggested that I and everyone everyone else in favor of the program perhaps condones the sort of illegal payments made to corrupt official behavior. I answered with some rhetorical noise of my own. If you don't like language abuse, don't abuse it.
posted by pracowity at 11:22 AM on June 3, 2002

I don't know. It doesn't say.

EXACTLY. You are supporting a program that has not been fully researched, and are further supporting it at a national level. Until these questions can be answered, and until tougher questions still are asked, how can you support this program at a national level?

If you don't like language abuse, don't abuse it.

I hate dictionary definitions, but since you bring up abuse:

1 : money or favor given or promised in order to influence the judgment or conduct of a person in a position of trust
2 : something that serves to induce or influence

found @

This is a bribe.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:12 PM on June 3, 2002

You are supporting a program that has not been fully researched, and are further supporting it at a national level. Until these questions can be answered, and until tougher questions still are asked, how can you support this program at a national level?

That slavery lark in the US in the early 1860s: its abolition hadn't been fully researched, especially in the areas where slaves were most important to the economy. Obviously, wanting to abolish it before the really tough questions had been asked, answered, submitted to a committee, signed in triplicate and proclaimed by men on horseback was rather premature.

That civil rights thing in the 60s. That 'allowing women the vote' thing. That legalisation of abortion. Heh, that US Constitution was a hacked-up committee-room job. Untried anywhere, inadequately tested, obviously flawed because of it.

Apples and oranges, yes. But the foolish way you're arguing deserves an answer that embraces a hint of foolishness. You're essentially arguing for no change, because it takes time to measure change. And you're utterly ignorant of the UK's education system(s), which means that you're applying orange-grove standards to an apple orchard. (Number one: the university drop-out rate in the UK is more or less half that of the US from a similar percentage of enrollments: 19% as opposed to 37%. Of course, correlation ain't cause, but the word 'fees' comes to mind.)

So, some facts. Kids who leave school at 16 aren't normally allowed to claim unemployment benefit, so the question is how to get them into jobs with decent prospects, vocational training or further education, particularly when they're from poorer families and the pressure is on them to bring money into the household as soon as they're able. And particularly to prevent kids from leaving home in order to be in a position to claim benefit.

Anyway, this is a moot point. The decentralisation of control over state-funded FE colleges about six or seven years ago meant that they've been allowed to offer enrollment 'incentives' (or, if you like, bribes) to students for a while -- if you call a £500 signing-on bonus to buy books and equipment a bribe -- but not necessarily on a consistent basis, putting the more academic sixth-forms at a disadvantage over FE colleges.This rationalises things. And I'm all in favour of it, and not just because it gives heartburn to the usual wingnutted suspects.
posted by riviera at 3:38 PM on June 3, 2002

> EXACTLY. You are supporting...

Don't be purposely thick. The newspaper article doesn't say what cannot be said. The research says as much as can be said at this point. As I said, your (money-clutching, reactionary complaints masked as) questions are premature. You claim to demand more research but you really demand that the program be shut down, the early phases of which are in fact the research you say is needed. You don't get research for free; the government have to try it to see if it works as well as it has worked in trials.

The next time you pick up your bribe pay check from work, the next time you get your annual bribe bonus from work, think about how you could better spend just a little of that money to make the world better. Good works of this sort are not very expensive.
posted by pracowity at 10:50 PM on June 3, 2002

The next time you pick up your bribe pay check from work, the next time you get your annual bribe bonus from work,

Now who's talking apples and oranges? Being a student is not employment. The pay for being a student is education, not money. When the two are confused, the value of education is no longer "what will I learn?" It becomes "how much are they paying me to learn?" Education stops becoming a virtue in and of itself, and such an idea has a way of spreading pervasively. How long before every kid over ten has to be paid a weekly education wage? Then every kid in school, down to the kindergarteners?
posted by Dreama at 6:04 AM on June 4, 2002

In my usage, a bribe comes before an action, a reward comes after. However, thats not the whole story, and the words are in close proximity, semantically...
bribe, n.
....Something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person's views or conduct.
Something serving to influence or persuade.

... 2. A price, reward, gift, or favor bestowed or promised with a view to prevent the judgment or corrupt the conduct of a judge, witness, voter, or other person in a position of trust.

- These kids are not yet in a position of trust, nor is the reward/bribe to corrupt the conduct, it is to encourage that which we (most of us) want to see, i.e., higher school attendances AND achievements.
- I would have thought that financial inducements are not the hallmark of a 'Socialist' society ( but are the hallmarks of 'New' Labour). I would also argue that whatever we need to do to get disadvantaged kids to connect study and rewards is a good thing. It would have made a difference to my life.
- Please can we get over this 'Europe = Socialism' fallacy: the European Union has, at present, 15 independent member states, placed at different points along any presumed socialist/capitalist continuum paradigm. Many socialists in (e.g.) France would guffaw at any one who thought Tiny Blair was a socialist. Really.
posted by dash_slot- at 6:36 AM on June 4, 2002

> Then every kid in school, down to the kindergarteners?

Oh, dear. What a dangerously slippery slope. Whatever came over me?

The value of education has long been, has always been, "what will I earn?" If this weren’t the case, almost everybody you and I know would have studied something else at college, or not gone to college at all. If the monetary rewards were the same, doctors might be dogcatchers, lawyers might be bricklayers, and bookkeepers might be beekeepers. I would have been a professional lie-on-the-couch-and-read-random-books-and-drink-tea-all-day guy.

This need to make something of oneself monetarily starts right from the beginning with parents pushing their kids instead of letting them be kids (as discussed in another recent thread).

Poor kids often need a little more help in this area, a push to help make up for what they frequently don't have: professionally successful role models at home, plenty of educational material at home, nice schools with dedicated teachers, no need to work to help out at home, friends dropping out, and so on.

This cash is incentive to stay focused on the books and do right for themselves despite whatever they might see around them. It is intended to help get them through a couple of years when they are given the option to drop out and may not be mature enough to understand the consequences of doing so.

It's a new program. If it doesn't work, it can be canceled. If it works, that's great.
posted by pracowity at 7:01 AM on June 4, 2002

UK Kids to Get £40 a Week to Stay in School.

US kids, meanwhile, continue to gain approximately 40 pounds a week.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 8:27 AM on June 4, 2002

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