‘I spend my whole life worrying’: The experiences of student mothers working in the Early Childhood Sector



This study was designed to explore the experiences of student-mothers in higher education, with participants drawn from undergraduate and postgraduate programmes within the discipline of Education and Childhood at a UK University. The study utilised a mixed open- and closed-question questionnaire in order to capture student’s reflections on their experiences. Responses were considered in light of feminist perspectives, specifically the concerns raised by recent campaigns (Pregnant Then Screwed, 2022) regarding the social and economic pressures on women with young children. The research discovered that many student mothers are balancing the demands of academic work with childcare, financial pressures, and household responsibilities, often with limited or negligible support. The current cost of living crisis has further exacerbated problems, with students often working in poorly paid early childhood roles, whilst paying a premium to have their own children cared for when they attend lectures. We conclude that the failure of Higher Education Institutions to recognise the additional and specific needs of this group is inequitable and increases the pressures on student mothers.


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How to Cite

Owen, K., & Simmons, H. (2024). ‘I spend my whole life worrying’: The experiences of student mothers working in the Early Childhood Sector. Student Engagement in Higher Education Journal, 5(3), 86–102. Retrieved from https://sehej.raise-network.com/raise/article/view/1198