Contact us

Alison Hadley OBE
Teenage Pregnancy Knowledge Exchange
Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
University of Bedfordshire
University Square
Luton, LU1 3JU

m: 07449 905073

Current policies

The Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, which ran from 1999-2010, reduced the under-18 conception rate to the lowest level for over 40 years.

However, at a national level England's teenage birth rate remains higher than levels in comparable Western European countries and progress in reducing rates varies considerably between local areas. The Government has asked local areas to maintain their focus as part of tackling inequalities and maximising the life chances for young people and giving every child the best start in life.

Continuing to reduce the rate of under-16 and under-18 conceptions is one of four priority areas in the Department of Health's Sexual Health Improvement Framework. The under-18 conception rate is an indicator in the Public Health Outcomes Framework (PHOF) which sets the context for improving health and reducing inequalities at national and local level.

Progress on reducing teenage pregnancy - and improving support for young parents - will also help local government improve at least 25% of the wider PHOF indicators which disproportionately affect teenage parents and their children. These include child poverty, infant mortality, poor maternal mental health and levels of young people not in education, employment or training.

Public Health England and the Local Government Association have published two pieces of national guidance to support local areas continue their progress.

The Teenage Pregnancy Prevention Framework and the Framework for Supporting Teenage Mothers and Young Fathers are designed to:

  • help local areas assess their local programmes to see what’s working well
  • identify and address any gaps in services
  • strengthen the prevention and support pathways for young people, young parents and their children, and maximise all the assets in the local area.

Both frameworks provide an evidence-based structure for a collaborative whole system approach to prevent teenage pregnancies and support teenage parents.

The Local Government Association has also published a briefing for councillors, highlighting the importance of a continued focus on teenage pregnancy and young parents, with case studies illustrating effective local practice.

PHE's teenage pregnancy narrative reports bring together key data and information for local authorities to help inform commissioning decisions with their partner agencies, to reduce unplanned teenage conceptions and improve outcomes for young parents. The PHE local Sexual and Reproductive Health Profiles are also very helpful for monitoring progress and informing commissioning.

Other helpful resources for teenage pregnancy prevention and support work include:

Making it work: a guide to whole system commissioning of sexual health, reproductive health and HIV services [PDF] is designed to help commissioners ensure integrated and responsive services within the complex landscape of local government and clinical commissioning groups. The guide is co-branded with NHS England, the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health.

C-card condom distribution schemes: why, what and how – has been published by Brook and PHE to support local areas establish and maintain effective c-card schemes. A national report on condom schemes by PHE, published in 2017 provides an assessment of the number and types of condom distribution schemes in England and a knowledge base from which to develop a standardised framework for the evaluation and benchmarking of C-Card schemes.

Getting maternity services right for pregnant teenagers and young fathers - has been published by PHE, DH and Royal College of Midwives.
Despite the significant reduction in the under-18 conception rate, young parents and their children continue to experience disproportionately poor outcomes, so are a key group for PHE and local councils' priorities of narrowing inequalities and giving every child the best start in life. This short guide gives practical tips to non-specialist midwives and maternity support staff to help increase pregnant teenagers and young fathers' early uptake and engagement with maternity services.

Moving to statutory relationships and sex education

In March 2017, Government laid an amendment via the Children and Social Work Act (2017) to introduce compulsory relationships education in primary schools and compulsory relationships and sex education in all secondary schools from September 2019. The Act also provides a power for the Secretary of State to make PSHE mandatory in all schools through regulations at a later date if wished. The Department for Education's policy statement sets out Government's rationale, approach and timeline for the proposed statutory changes and highlights the overwhelming support from parents and young people for high quality statutory RSE. Consultation on the content of the new statutory guidance for schools closed on 12 February 2018. The draft guidance is will be published for consultation later this year.

In February 2018, LGA, PHE, the Sex Education Forum and the RSE Hub published an RSE briefing for councillors. The briefing [PDF] sets out: the statutory requirements – and the contribution of RSE to schools statutory duties on safeguarding, wellbeing and equality; the evidence: on RSE’s protective benefits for children and young people and the ingredients for effective delivery; the views of children, young people and parents; what is RSE? explaining content at different ages and stages; case study examples of partnership approaches in and out of school settings; the contribution of RSE to other council priorities; and actions that can councillors take

To keep up to date with progress towards statutory RSE, and have access to the latest evidence and good practice, visit the Sex Education Forum

Bedfordshire University

Current policies