The shock of discovering a baby is on its way – followed by the practical demands of looking after a young child – means many teenage parents feel they have no choice but to put their own academic aspirations on hold, sometimes forever.
There’s no doubt it can be challenging (and exhausting) to juggle childcare and study; however, with support, young parents who wish to complete their education can do so. In fact, many teenage parents find they are even more motivated to get a college or university education and plan for the future now their baby has arrived.
Like all young people, teenage parents have a right to impartial, high-quality advice on career choices and courses and education from Careers Wales advisers.
Missing Year 11
When a young person gets pregnant or has a baby in Year 11, they can find themselves a ‘year behind’ in terms of compulsory education. If this is the case, and the young person has previously shown a high-level of commitment, the local council will normally arrange for them to study for a further year to complete examination courses, e.g. GCSEs, or Welsh Baccalaureate. This extra year could take place in school or at a college of further education.
This refers to post-16 study and usually starts with vocational courses like BTEC, City and Guilds and NVQs, or A levels taken at school or at further education colleges.
There is funding available to help young parents make the most of further education opportunities. Contact your local college for more information.
Good numeracy, literacy and ICT (information and communications technology) skills are essential in most jobs so if a young person missed out on their earlier education they might want to spend time improving their basic maths and English before embarking on further education or training.
Pathway to a Degree Courses
These courses – also called Access to Higher Education courses – are for students with no previous qualifications who would like to study at university. They are ideal for young parents who might have missed out on doing A levels at school. Concessionary fees may apply.
Paying for your course
Young people aged between 16 and 18 don’t usually have to pay any course fees and (depending on household income) might be eligible for an Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA). Some local authorities provide additional support to young learners.
Full-time students aged 19 or over might be charged tuition fees. Most further education colleges offer free or discounted tuition to learners from low-income families, disabled learners or for learners on benefits. They might also be eligible for a Welsh Government Learning Grant (FE) of up to £1,500.
Many colleges also provide financial help with things like bus passes, childcare, equipment and meals to eligible students.
When money is tight, it’s important to make sure you are claiming any benefits you are entitled to. Gingerbread has lots of benefits information for single teenage parents (you must register first but it’s free).
Studying at home
Young parents who aren’t ready to go back to college might consider enrolling for free online courses on websites like Future Learn and Alison.