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Teenage Pregnancy

Volume 462: debated on Thursday 28 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills, if he will examine the relationship between trends in teenage pregnancy rates and trends in educational attainment over the last four years; and if he will make a statement. (145763)

[holding answer 26 June 2007]: The likelihood of teenage pregnancy is far higher among young women with poor educational attainment. 29 per cent. of girls leaving school at 16 without qualifications will have a birth under 18, and 12 per cent. an abortion under 18, compared with 1 per cent. and 4 per cent. respectively for girls leaving school at 17 or over. This association between teenage pregnancy and low attainment is evident even after accounting for the effects of deprivation. On average, among the 20 per cent. most deprived wards in England, those with poor levels of educational attainment (less than 40 per cent. of young women achieving 5 GCSE's A-C) have under 18 conception rates twice as high as similarly deprived wards with better levels of educational attainment (more than 60 per cent. of young women achieving 5 GCSE's A-C). Consequently, the teenage pregnancy strategy focuses on raising aspirations and attainment as well as on delaying first sex and better contraception use—giving young people the motivation as well as the means to prevent early pregnancy.

However, while there is a strong association between absolute teenage pregnancy and educational attainment rates, the association between changes in rates over time is less strong and more difficult to interpret. In large part, this is because teenage pregnancy and educational attainment rates are independently influenced by a wide range of factors. Accounting for how these factors impact on the relationship between changing teenage pregnancy and educational attainment rates is problematic as many are not captured by routinely collected statistics.