Education while and after pregnancy

Study options for young mums

Having a baby while you're still a student doesn't mean the end of your education. There's plenty of support available if you wanted to continue with your education.

It becomes even more important to have some qualifications when you have a child and yourself to support, but it’s all seems too easy to just drop out. Fortunately more and more teen mums are determined to get their qualifications. Continuing education allows you to focus on other things than being a parent and it can be fun to mix with people your age who are equally ambitious so they boost your confidence too, then you can go home to be a responsible mother. A lot of young mums choose to take some time out to care for their baby on the first year and then go back. Having a child doesn’t mean your life has ended. Your life has just started.


What you can do if you fall pregnant while on your course?

If you get pregnant while on a course, your school, college or university will help you plan your studies around the birth. Sandra, 19, took her teacher’s advice and decided to take a year out to care for her newborn and she returned to finish her A-levels. “My school was very supportive and allowed me more time for my essays when I needed it,” she says.


Help with childcare?

Financial help is available provided you use a registered childcare service, not family or friends. Entitlement depends on your individual circumstances – your student welfare service will be able to advise you.

You can get childcare support from Care to Learn scheme, which pays up to £160 per week (£175 in London) towards childcare if you’re on a further education course at school or college. To qualify, you must be under 20 at the beginning of your course, or when you return to it after a break.
If you’re over 19, you could be entitled to a similar amount via the Discretionary Learner Support. Higher education students can qualify for a Childcare Grant, which can cover as much as 85 per cent of childcare costs during term-time and holidays. If you are on a full-time undergraduate course you may also be able to get a Parent’s Learning Allowance on top of your student loan so there is help out there find the one that suit you best.


Other financial help

There are also various other sources of financial help for parents in education.

Student parents may also be entitled to Income Support. You can find out more about benefits from your student adviser, Jobcentre Plus, or Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB).


Living in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland?

Much of the above information only relates to England, but there are similar schemes in other parts of the UK. It’s best to speak to your student advisory service. The National Union of Students (NUS) website gives a useful overview of how financial support for student parents differs in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


Struggling to make friends after having a baby?

Being a student parent can be lonely. “I remember at university after class my friends would go out to have fun and but I had to run to pick up my son from nursery and go home and be responsible,” says Juvin. However, you’ll probably find that you’re not the only student in this situation – ask your college or university if there’s a student parents’ support group in the area and if there isn’t one why not create a student parents’ group in your school or university?
It might be hard but it gets better, and really it isn’t as bad as people make it out to be. You can have friends over, and if possible allow your parents to help you with babysitting duties to allow you to go out with your friends as well.
Do you have a question about being a student mum? Or you just want to share your experience with the other mothers thinking about returning to education? Why not visit our Facebook page? See you there.

Photo of woman graduating from Shutterstock. Taken from thesite.org

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