Stalham High School pupils question top government ministers over education cuts

Pupils from a Norfolk school have made an impassioned plea to top government ministers and county council officers asking them to explain why some children's services are facing the axe.

Stalham High School's student council have written to Michael Gove, the secretary of state for education, North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb and Lisa Christensen, director of children's services at Norfolk County Council, voicing their concerns about areas in education facing the axe or a reduction in funding.

Abbie Everett, 14, and Gemma Grimmer, year nine pupils who are both on the school council, composed the letter.

Abbie, who is looking to go to college after finishing school and eventually take up nursing, said they decided to take action after hearing from some of the year 11s at the school who are worried what their future will be if the cuts go ahead.

She said; 'If we have to pay for things such as books at college as well as transport, we are not going to have any money to support us in our studies, and because of the recession, parents are not going to be in a position to lend their children money either.'

The students are concerned about the scrapping of the Educational Maintenance Allowance, (EMA) which used to provide monetary support for youngsters continuing education after high school, but after this year will no longer available.

They also outline their worries about the possible axing of the post-16 education transport subsidy, one of the proposals in Norfolk County Council's 'Big Conversation' consultation.

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Speaking about plans to end youth services, again part of the Big Conversation proposals, they said: 'Youth clubs provide a safety net for vulnerable young people who may be otherwise tempted into crime.'

Mr Lamb said: 'Students should be involved in the debate about funding of education, and I applaud them for doing this.'

He said in terms of the EMA, that would be replaced with another fund available locally aimed at targeting those most in need. He added: 'In terms of the cuts to college transport I totally agree with the students, in a rural area transport is critical and I have opposed the ending of the transport subsidy.'

Alison Thomas, cabinet Member for children's services at Norfolk County Council, added: 'I would like thank Stalham's students for their comments. The views of Norfolk's young people are very important to us and they will be fed into our consultation as we look at how to address the �155m gap in finances we are facing.'