Supporting young parents and parents-to-be
The way in which a school/education/training provider responds to the disclosure of a school age pregnancy will have a significant impact on the response of that new parent to their baby.
Like all parents, teenage parents want the best for their children and some manage very well. The demands of caring for a baby at a time when young people themselves are going through the transition from adolescence to adulthood are significant. As a consequence, teenage parents need additional support if they and their children are to avoid the poor outcomes many of them currently experience
(Department for Children Schools and Families (DCSF) and Department of Health (DH), 2007).
The ‘support package’ offered to young parents/parents-to-be needs to include all of these individuals and agencies to provide holistic support that is focussed on the individual needs of each young person (mother and father) and their child.
Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, penetrative sex with a child under 13 is classed as rape and a referral should be made to children’s social work services and the police.
Sexual activity with a child aged under 16 years is also an offence. Where it is consensual it may be less serious than if the child were aged under 13 years but may, nevertheless, have serious consequences for the welfare of the young person. Consideration should be given in every case of sexual activity involving a child or young person aged 13 to 15 as to whether there should be a discussion with other agencies and whether a referral should be made to children’s social work services. Within this age range the younger the child the stronger the presumption must be that sexual activity will be a matter of concern. Anyone concerned about such sexual activity should initially discuss this with the designated person in their agency or organisation responsible for safeguarding and subsequently with other agencies if required. Where confidentiality needs to be preserved a discussion can still take place as long as it does not identify the child (directly or indirectly). Where there is reasonable cause to suspect that significant harm to a child has occurred, or is likely to occur, the case should be referred to children’s social work services using the multi-agency referral. All discussions should be recorded, including where a decision is taken not to share information, giving reasons for action taken and who was spoken to.
Sexual activity involving a 16 or 17 year old, even if it does not involve an offence, may still involve harm or the likelihood of harm being suffered. Professionals should still bear in mind assessing whether harm is being suffered, and should share information as appropriate. It is an offence for a person to have a sexual relationship with a 16 or 17 year old if they hold a position of trust or authority in relation to them. Please see page 6 for further information on Child Sexual Exploitation and page 49 for Teenage Relationship Abuse.
Confidentiality and the rights of a young person should be central when supporting young parents/parents-to-be. Consideration should be given to supporting young people, their families and children in line with the school/education/training provider’s confidentiality policy. Further information and advice related to confidentiality can be found on the health and wellbeing website.
The starting point in supporting a young parent/parent-to-be is that the school/education/training provider should aim to enable the young person to remain in education/training wherever possible before and after the birth.
Pregnancy/parenthood should never be a reason for exclusion, whether formal or informal: Health and safety or insurance should not be used as a reason to prevent a pregnant young woman attending school/education/training, in the same way that this does not prevent a pregnant member of staff continuing in the workplace.
Appointments should where possible be made outside of school/college/training. However where this is not possible the provider should support the pupil to attend appointments by arranging opportunities to catch up on work/learning missed. Absence as a result of a pregnant pupil attending necessary medical appointments should be recorded as M.
Young women can continue attending school/college/training with medical approval for as long as they are physically and emotionally able prior to the birth. No more than 18 calendar weeks authorised absence period can be negotiated to cover the period immediately before and after the birth of the child. Due consideration should always be given to the emotional health and wellbeing of the young person.
In exceptional circumstances a pupil may be unable to attend their mainstream school due to a medical reason during pregnancy and immediately after the birth. Please contact the education for children with health needs team (Tel: 0121 7046620, email: email@example.com) to discuss any potential referrals on medical grounds.
Young parents (both mother and father) will require support to reintegrate into school/college/training after the birth of their child. The level of support will depend on the individual and their circumstances, both in terms of their position now as a parent and also their previous experience of education/training.
For all parents (mothers and fathers) the school/education/training provider should work with the pupil, their family and other relevant agencies/providers to create a support package/plan including consideration of the following:
- Ante and post natal care
- Post natal depression
- Sex and relationships education / contraception
- Bullying (including siblings in the same school)
- Child protection/ safeguarding
- Parenting skills
- Relationship abuse
- Sexual exploitation
- Child care
- Previous experience in education
- Support of family
- Pupil’s parents and carers
- Finance / benefits
- Careers / further education
This is not an exhaustive list and will vary with each individual. It is not necessarily the responsibility of the school/education/training provider to provide for, nor address all of these issues. However they need to be considered and the school/education/training provider should offer support to address these issues or access the services/resources as they will all impact on a young parent’s learning. The information on pages 55 and 56 may be of relevance.
An early help assessment may be appropriate for some young people in order to meet need.
Updates and changes
These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information. Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.