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«The Invisible Students Young Parents in Education By Sinéad Riordan, The Centre for Social and Educational Research, Dublin Institute of Technology ...»

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Northern Ireland Dawson’s (1995) survey of policy and procedure in the local educational authorities of Northern Ireland with regard to provision for young school age mothers in the 1990s found that responsibility for provision lay with Special Education. On average, more hours of Home Tuition were available in Northern Ireland than in England and Wales. There did not appear to be any 64 group provision devoted solely to school age mothers at this time. However, Dawson noted that Northern Ireland’s small size and lack of urbanisation may reduce the practicality of group provision, particularly where there is more family support. Concerns with providing a full curriculum and comments about adverse attitudes at school were observed.

Young parents in Barnardos Young Parents Network in Northern Ireland, cited difficulties ranging from negative staff attitudes, to a lack of home tuition. The study found that less than half of those mothers surveyed received any home tuition before their baby was born, whilst 75% received no home tuition after the birth of their child (Working Group on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood, 2000).

Box 7. The Next Steps Project, Northern Ireland

–  –  –

A Gingerbread based project called Next Steps offers home based support to teenage mothers who are referred to the project, currently available in two HSS Trust areas, by their Health Visitor.

The programme aims to empower participants to reach personal goals. A wide range of support and information is offered, including access to welfare advice, training and help with childcare. It also provides opportunities to meet with other young mothers (Working Group on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood, 2000:70).

In 1998, a framework was agreed on the development of policy and support services for pregnant schoolgirls and school age mothers in Northern Ireland. This framework emerged from a Save the Children research study called ‘Pregnant Schoolgirls and School Age Mothers: Access to Education’ (Davies et al., 1996). The starting point of the framework is that every pregnant

schoolgirl or school age mother should be supported:

–  –  –

The School Aged Mothers Project (SAM) in Northern Ireland offers what the Working Group on Teenage Pregnancy and Parenthood described as an "innovative response to the needs of school age mothers" (2000: 33).

The purpose of SAM is to support young women who are pregnant or who have had a baby while still of compulsory school going age, to continue their formal education and to address personal development, antenatal and health issues in a supportive environment.

The initial pilot of SAM was ran by Barnardo’s in partnership with the North Eastern Education and Library Board, Causeway Health & Social Services Trust and Ballysally Youth and Community Centre. Of those who participated in the pilot, 75% sat their exams. This is a very significant outcome when compared to the findings of Davies et al’s (1996) study which showed that two-thirds of young mothers felt they missed out on opportunities to sit exams.

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70

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Notes 71 72 Notes

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