(81 young mums have completed the survey so far. See previous post for more info!)

...As well as asking  young mums about the right time to return to education we also asked about how much time they spent in education (class time) a week when they did return and how much they thought was right. For those who returned to education, 18% initially studied for 18 hours a week or more (this is classed as full time education), 39% studied for less than 6 hours a week. 20% studied between 6 and 12 hours a week and 32% studied between 12 and 18 hours a week.

"My course was work based but coursework was completed at home or I was given some time during the work day to complete tasks."

"I chose to study 3 Highers (equivalent to A Levels), which took me up to 17 hours per week. It wasn't too much, wasn't too little - I got to spend time with my son, at the same time as building a future. It was a good balance."

"Access course was part time - I was also working so could not study more."

"I tried several times to return to education, but it just isn't geared up to support young parents. There are no allowances made in consideration of your responsibilities outside of the classroom. It is not reasonable to expect a single, still-at-home 18yr old and a single, mum-of-two (for example) to be able to dedicate the same time, effort and energy to coursework. It just isn't possible."

"I wanted to complete the course at a good level and ASAP if I went to college part time my course would have been 6 years so I did 3 years instead."

"My lecturers were very supportive and let me go in for just 2/3 of my lectures, so I only had to do 3 days per week"

"I had to go back full time to finish my A-levels and did two A-levels in just one year. I had to go into college full-time in order to complete the subjects."

"I was very lucky and was offered the opportunity to become a peer adviser. I gained free childcare and learned some great skills and confidence. it was these stepping stones that encouraged and supported me to become a teenage parent support adviser."

"I stuck to my timetable. I went home to breastfeed in between as there were no facilities available. It was right for me at the time."


"It was too much because my boy was young"

"That was the hours of 2 A level classes."

"My daughter was still very young so I studied when she slept. It was extremely tiring but I wouldn't change it"

"It was normal timetable hours, however it was set out for early mornings and late evenings which was difficult as the bus takes 40 minutes to get to the college (and I have to drop my son off to the childminders - 10 mins in the opposite direction), and I didn't drive which made it even harder."


When asked what they thought the minimum number of hours in education a week for young parents should be, 33% stated that there should be no minimum number of hours. 16% suggested a minimum between 2 and 6 hours, 28% suggested a minimum between 6 and 12 hours. 14% suggested that the minimum should be between 12 and 18 hours (although only 3% actually stated it should be 18). This strongly suggests that young mums do not feel that young parents should be 'required' to be in full time (i.e. more than 18 hours) education and that young parents should be able to choose the hours that are right for them.

"However many they feel is right for them"

"Education is very important but so is being a parent. A balance needs to be found but 10 hours is a good starting point."

"I think 8 hours per week is a good starting point for getting back into education after having a child."

"a couple of hours a day should keep them on track with their peers"

"10 hours a week is 2 hours per working day - this should be manageable together with other responsibilites without creating so much pressure that they are "set up to fail"

"With support, I think an evening class would be a good idea. 3-4 hours of study one night a week would probably be possible, as long as the homework was not too in depth or time consuming."

"I think some young mothers find it difficult and this should be taken into consideration but I also think they should be encouraged to go back full time"

"So they still have time with their child/ren. People need to remember that they are a parent and cant be doing school work all the time, otherwise the child/ren will get neglected."

"Spending time with your newborn, developing an attachment and raising them is most important. Education can be continued anytime but your child won't stop developing while you go to school"

"the mother should be gradually bought back into education. Being a first mother is a very strenuous job so you don't want to bombard them and make them feel overwhelmed and want to give up. Even with studying 8 hours a week they would still need additional support with making sure they were up to date with work. etc."

"Ideally there would be support allowing young parents to return to studying full time when they are ready. However, as this is not always available and as I regard any contact with education as preferable to none, I think it is appropriate to set no minimum on a young parent's study hours; however, this must be matched to an ultimate expectation that they will return to doing enough hours to gain the experience and qualifications they need."

"It needs to be doable, otherwise people will be put off."

"Parents over 18 are not forced to go back to work in any time frame why should young mothers be made to do so."

"Some young parents are not in a position to study, and it is not up to anyone to force extra pressure on them. The support mechanisms should, however, be there to enable them to return to study."

"2 hours a day is enough as well as caring for a child."

"No one should be stressed over studies and exams. Being a new parent is stressful for all mothers whatever their age. However, for some mums study and the companionship it brings may be a relief from parenting stress. Everyone is different."

"At least a 1/2 day each day helps keep up"

"Everyone is different, education may not be right for that young mum, she may be better off giving her child 100% of her time until they are older? It worked for me! By forcing some it may cause more damage than good."

Young mums were asked how important different types of support were in helping parents return to education. Young mums ordered the support as follows:

1. Free Childcare
2. Childcare close to education provider
3. Part time courses
4. Support and advice
5. Flexible time tables
6. Maternity leave from school/college
5 (joint). Home learning and Flexible start dates
6. Groups just for young mums

Other support that young mums suggested would be useful included:

"Someone to help with giving advice about housing/money they can claim/ and about courses they want to do."

"It took me over 3 months to sort out child care funding when I first went back to college, due to a ridiculous amount of forms and phonecalls - which was very daunting and stressful at 19 years old, when I was nervous about starting and didn't quite know what I was doing. There needs to be more support for younger parents when trying to sort out child care. It needs to be done quicker."

"regular goal setting with and monitoring by a supervisor/coach/mentor"

"I believe child development should be taught to both sexes in secondary school, to help children understand how babies brains grow and develop, then society needs to stop expecting parents to hand over their young children to strangers - I believe forcing that seperation to be quite damaging."

"Financial support and training for teaching staff to understand the demands of being a young parents - parents are protected by law in a work environment but not in education"

"Help with driving lessons"

"Support from staff members or maybe youth workers that have been hired specifically to work with young mothers. This is to help them with their work but also support to with things such as parenting. One of the biggest things i appreciated when attending a young mothers group was having a staff member to ask questions about parenting, benefits and receive non judgemental advice."

"Speacialist support networks for young parents to help them along their journey, seperate to that offered from the learning provider, and unbiased advice"

"Support such as provided by the PIPS team In Leicester now disbanded; providing emotional support, financial advice, housing advice, advocacy, contraception advice, relationship support, peer support, encouragement, careers advice, child care support......."

"A good network of friends and other parents is the best support. Family is important too. It's important not to be treated differently to other mothers so you can be part of a network."

"Personal advisors for Mothers"

"Tutoring. It was essential throughout my educational success."

"Councellors trained specifically with young parents to help them with any financial or emotional difficult that they may encounter. Maybe an officer per college/school that can "be in charge" of the young parents there - could be integrated in with LSA's or SENCO's somehow."

"You just need people to understand and not be judgemental. When I found out I was pregnant one of my A level tutors asked me how I expected to be able to look after a baby when I couldn't even hand my coursework in on time. Not v. understanding!"

So far the responses show a range of experiences and views but a common theme is one about respecting individual choice.  Young parents clearly are capable of making responsible decisions based on what they feel is right for their family. It's about time society stopped stereotyping and started listening.....

More to follow.....