||Monitoring of the DfES Standards Fund Teenage Pregnancy Grant
Dr Peter Selman
Professor Diane Richardson
Dr Alison Hosie
October 2000 - October 2001
The issue of supporting teenage parents to return to education
was raised as an issue of policy concern within the SEU
report (PDF - 2.02 MB - external link) on
Teenage pregnancy. The Standards Fund is the Government’s
main channel for targeting funds towards national priorities
to be delivered by LEAs and schools and the Teenage Pregnancy
section of The Grant has two key aims, of which the former
is covered within this summary:
- To reintegrate school age mothers back into education
and provide support to pregnant teenagers and school-age
parents in education.
- To support age-appropriate Action Research Projects in
schools aimed at reducing the rate of conceptions to under-18s.
Richardson, Selman, Speak and Hosie monitored six areas
in receipt of the Standards Fund Teenage Pregnancy Grant,
(Durham, Leeds, Newham, Northumberland, Sandwell and Southwark),
in order to explore each LEAs use of The Grant and the
developing role and effectiveness of the Reintegration
A central objective of the Standards Fund Teenage Pregnancy
Grant was intended to be the ‘reintegration’ of
young women conceiving whilst of statutory school age,
back into education. The appointment of a Reintegration
Officer for each of the 48 LEAs provided with The Grant
who would; co-ordinate local provision, help to break
down any barriers to reintegration and provide support
for pregnant schoolgirls and school-age mothers, was
seen as a key element in achieving this goal. Six areas
were monitored in-depth by the research team in order
to explore: the process of development and the effectiveness
of Reintegration Officers; the experiences of young women
who were pregnant or mothers before and after the introduction
of The Grant; the value of different types of educational
provisions for young mothers of compulsory school-age
and to highlight evidence of good practice in breaking
down barriers to education.
Prior to the existence of The Grant, pregnant schoolgirls
and young mothers within the six LEAs had a limited range
of approaches available to them regarding their continued
education. In Sandwell almost all pregnant schoolgirls
would attend a specialist Pupil Referral Unit (PRU), whilst
in Durham three part-time units were available for the
maternity-leave period of a young woman’s pregnancy.
In the remaining four areas, the main options were either
mainstream school or home tuition. A number of key issues
of concern were raised by the Reintegration Officers regarding
the policy and processes in operation, prior to their arrival:
Key points prior to Standards Fund Grant
- LEAs knew very little about the numbers, educational activities
and/or needs of pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers.
- Many young women would fail to receive home tuition because
their schools were unaware of correct procedure or trying
to conceal that there was a pregnancy at their school.
- A significant proportion of young women in all areas had
effectively disengaged themselves from school education
or were erratic attendees prior to pregnancy, therefore:
- Without adequate follow-up on non-attendance, most LEAs
did not respond to a young woman’s need regarding
pregnancy, because they were unaware the need existed.
- Reintegration efforts would often fail, as previous non-attendees
did not wish to return to a school that they had already
- Evidence of bad practice in the following areas was found
in a number of LEAs:
- Off-rolling of pregnant schoolgirls
- Incorrect attendance records at school
- Forced 29 week maternity leave
- Admissions refusals for Year 11 mothers who had missed
a substantial amount of Year 10
- Pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers being made to feel
unwelcome and hence choosing to leave of their own accord
- Pregnant schoolgirls being told, that on health and safety
grounds, school was not the best place for them.
Many schools did not see it as their duty to make sure
that pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers were comfortable
at school, nor to facilitate flexible or alternative provision
to encourage their continued engagement.
“I think this idea of blanket reintegration is wrong. There
are distinct categories - you’ve got good attendees,
erratic attendees and you’ve got non-attendees, you’ve
got people who’ve disengaged long before pregnancy
and people who’ve disengaged around pregnancy, people
who haven’t disengaged… it’s much more
complex” (Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood Initiative
The term ‘reintegration’ assumes that a young
woman was integrated prior to pregnancy. This was often
found not to be the case, which is a key point to acknowledge
as it seriously affects the type of educational provision,
which may be appropriate for a young mother on reintegration.
Whilst some young mothers felt well supported by their
school, more often negative experiences arose from a school’s
unwillingness to be flexible on timetabling and in the
lack of personal support offered by teachers. Generally
those in receipt of education at a specialist provision
commented very favourably on the education received and
the social support provided, reflected by exceptionally
high attendance rates. However some noted limitations in
the range of subjects that a specialist unit could provide
in comparison to mainstream school. Most often home tuition
was not viewed favourably due to its poor quality, but
in practice it was often the only viable option particularly
in large geographical areas or for those young mothers
wishing to remain at home for the first few months to bond
with their child.
The Reintegration Officer: establishment, development
Despite a relatively short time in post, all Reintegration
Officers have made significant achievements in their LEAs.
Each Officer has adopted a different approach dependent
on what systems were/ were not in place prior to their
arrival. The achievements across all 6 LEAs can be summarised
Raising awareness: Within the LEA of the broader issues
and in individual schools of their obligations towards
pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers.
Establishing procedures: For the referral
of pregnant schoolgirls and school age mothers to the Reintegration
Officer and other education providers and monitoring of
Many schools noted relief that there was now a named officer
to whom they could refer young women or ask advice and
Data collection: On individual pregnant schoolgirls and
young mothers, the outcome of their pregnancy and their
education progress and achievements.
Overcoming barriers to reintegration: Into
mainstream and alternative provision and post-16 options.
One of the largest barriers to overcome was that of prevailing
negative perceptions of pregnant schoolgirls at an institutional
Many teachers noted the direct effect that The Grant was
having on positively changing attitudes of staff towards
pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers.
Altering negative routes through education: By establishing
new forms of provision as alternatives to mainstream school
and home tuition (i.e. FE college) or by changing attitudes
and behaviour of young women and/or educational establishments
to encourage new positive routes.
Improving attendance: Within both mainstream
and alternative provision and both before and after the
birth. Improvements were most noted amongst those young
women who were poor / erratic / non-attendees or permanently
prior to becoming pregnant.
General support: Including advocacy,
parenting and relationship support.
Supporting pregnant schoolgirls by facilitating an atmosphere
where they are allowed to enjoy their pregnancy and the
prospect of motherhood, instead of continually being condemned
for having done something wrong, is crucial to the ongoing
development of self-esteem.
Changing mothers’ perceptions of education: In many
cases successfully capitalising on renewed motivation to
succeed for the sake of the child, although this was often
dependant on other factors including local context, a mother’s
pre-conception experience of education and the different
forms of education on offer in any LEA.
Improvement in educational attainment: For those already
engaged prior to pregnancy remained high, the greatest
improvement was seen in the proportions of previous erratic/
non-attendees entered for and passing qualifications.
Improvement in non-education attainment: This was noted
amongst many young women, in particular, in relation to
improved post-birth contraceptive use, raised self-esteem
and the development of sound parenting skills.
How else could the LEA perform the Reintegration function?
Many initiatives have been launched in recent years to
help support young people in education; the Standards
Fund Teenage Pregnancy Grant is the first to have had
a specific remit to work solely with teenage parents.
The value of having a named person with the specific
task of raising awareness, establishing procedures and
changing attitudes at LEA and school level, whilst at
the same time working directly with young women, cannot
be made explicit enough.
The non-educational role played by the Reintegration Officer
is, in many cases, as important for encouraging the engagement
of pregnant schoolgirls and young mothers with education
as is the local support and educational provision context.
What would improve the Reintegration Officer’s
In order for a Reintegration Officer to be effective in
encouraging young women post-conception to continue engagement
or to re-engage with education, there must be a range
of suitable forms of provision available to offer. ‘Flexible
provision’ has been highlighted as a key issue
of importance, particularly for those dis-engaged from
mainstream school prior to pregnancy.
The insecure nature of short-term posts does not help
Reintegration Officers to plan their future work effectively.
The negative impact this has, especially when working with
young people, cannot be overstated. If Reintegration Officers
posts are not confirmed for several years at a time, it
is very likely that when the posts are removed, the work
of Reintegration Officers will be undone within a year
What can be learned from the process?
Two key lessons have been highlighted: first, role development
and evolution based on local context highlights the need
for flexibility and the fact that no one model suits
all areas. Second, uncertainty over the future of Reintegration
Officers has meant that they could not plan effectively
and in some cases were making promises to young mothers
for example - over childcare provision - which could
not actually be guaranteed. Encouraging young women to
trust in an institution that has often already failed
them, only to be let down by the short-notice discontinuation
of The Grant would effectively undo, any progress that
had been made.
Therefore, if The Grant is to be discontinued, clear and
early notification must be given, if effective exit-strategies
are to be developed and successfully implemented.
The findings have been disseminated via health and education
professional local networks, conferences and seminars
and other academic outlets.
The final report is available in hard copy.
Papers already presented on this research can be found
on the Conferences & Seminar
Presentations and Esteem
Indicators pages and
an online copy of the report can be found on the Publications page.
For further details about the project please contact:
Dr Alison Hosie
Tel: 07931 164111