Department for Education
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Dawn Primarolo: Areas must continue to reduce Teenage Pregnancy rates further

Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo today called on local authorities and health trusts to continue to prioritise the Government’s successful teenage pregnancy strategy, to further bring down teenage conceptions.

The call to action comes as the Government publishes its response to the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG) 2007/08 annual report. The Government has taken forward all the major recommendations including making sex and relationship education statutory from 2011, and investing more than £45 million in improving young people’s access to contraception.

Children’s Minister Dawn Primarolo said:

“We know what works to bring down teenage conceptions – giving young people the knowledge and confidence to resist pressure to have early sex, and to prevent early pregnancy when they do become sexually active. This concept underpins our teenage pregnancy strategy, which has seen a reversal of the previous upward trend in teenage conceptions and has seen teenage births fall to their lowest level in 15 years.

“This progress reflects the hard work of senior leaders and front line practitioners across the country, but there is much more we need to do to reach our ambition. As we plan for the next phase of the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, I urge local areas to continue prioritising and investing in implementing the strategy next year. Teenage pregnancy is a cause and consequence of health inequalities, child poverty and social exclusion. Reducing rates and improving outcomes for teenage parents and their children saves money and, most importantly, helps young people and future generations fulfil their potential.

“I would like to thank the Independent Advisory Group for their commitment and hard work advising the Government and helping local areas implement the strategy. I am pleased to say that we are taking forward all of their major recommendations, which will improve the strategy and its implementation across the country.

“One of the key recommendations was to make sex and relationship education statutory as part of PSHE, and we have recently announced that this will be implemented from 2011. This will provide young people with age appropriate information so that they can make the right choices about when to start having sex.

“But it is also important that young people are given the best quality information which is why we are producing new guidance to help teachers engage young people about the issue in the classroom.

“We are also taking forward other recommendations to improve the ways that local services work together with better coordination between education, children’s and health services. Schools now have a duty to promote pupils’ wellbeing and the Child Health Strategy and Healthy Child Programme set out our commitments to provide more intensive support for young people most in need.”

Public Health Minister Gillian Merron said:

“It is vital that work continues to reduce the teenage pregnancy rate and prevent young people becoming pregnant earlier than they would choose to. That is why the Government has already invested £20.5 million to improve access to long acting reversible (LARC) methods such as the implant and injection – which are very effective and easy to use.

“We are also supporting colleges to develop on-site contraception and sexual health services so they are accessible to young people at the most convenient times and places.

“The Government is about to launch a new national campaign on contraceptive choices, which will raise awareness of the different options available to young people to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy.”

Since the launch of the Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, between 1999 and 2007, the under-18 conception rate has fallen by 10.7 per cent and teenage conceptions leading to births have fallen by 23.3 per cent. Areas that prioritise teenage pregnancy and fully implement the strategy have seen far bigger decreases in their teenage conception rates - for example Southend (26.1 per cent), Oldham (29.4 per cent), Calderdale (29.9 per cent) and Hackney (25.9 per cent).

The under-18 conception data for the first two quarters of 2008, combined with the annual abortion data for 2008, show encouraging signs that we are on track to see further reductions, continuing the overall downward trend.

Gill Frances, Chair of the Teenage Pregnancy Independent Advisory Group (TPIAG) said:

“TPIAG is very pleased the Government has accepted our recommendations and has stated that reducing teenage pregnancy remains a priority. We look forward to continued close working with the Government to develop the next phase of the strategy.”

Editor's Notes
This press notice relates to 'England'
1. The Government’s response to the TPIAG fifth annual report is published today at
2. PSHE (and SRE) will become a statutory part of the national curriculum at primary and secondary level for all young people for the first time in 2011. This builds on the recommendations of an independent review by Sir Alasdair Macdonald and follows extensive public consultations.
3. Parents currently have the right to withdraw their children from SRE up until the age of 19. The Government supports this right but believes that the age should be lowered. Following discussions with parents, young people and faith groups, the Government will bring forward legislation to lower the age to 15. A majority of parents polled on this subject supported a lower age.
4. Generally countries with more comprehensive sex and relationships programmes in schools and easier access to contraception for sexually active teenagers have lower rates of teenage pregnancy, not higher.
5. The Government has committed over £26.8 million in 2008/09 and £20 million in 2009/10 to improve young people’s access to effective contraception.

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