ERO report finds room for improvement in teen parent units

The Education Review Office | Te Tari Arotake Mātauranga has today released its evaluation on Teen Parent Units, which looks at the quality of education provided and the extent to which positive student outcomes were achieved.

Teen Parent Units (TPU) are educational units specifically set up to cater to the needs of pregnant teenagers or teen parents, to enable them to continue their secondary schooling with additional support. TPUs are governed by and usually situated within a mainstream secondary school (host school) and have links to an early learning service either onsite or adjacent to the school.

Chief Review Officer of the Education Review Office, Nicholas Pole said: "This report highlights that while most TPUs are performing well and demonstrating strong practices that lead to better educational, social, health and wellbeing outcomes for students and their children, there is still significant room for improvement."

The less effective TPUs (5 of 24 reviewed) need to address issues across all facets, including leadership. Partnerships are critical and stronger relationships with host schools, early learning services, external agencies, staff and whānau would contribute to a positive and welcoming environment for students, help with their transition and career development, and ensure their children are safe and learning too.

The poorly performing TPUs also need to work on aspects of their teaching practice and curriculum - by improving the quality of learning programmes and increasing teachers’ access to appropriate professional learning and development. Identification of student pathways and solid careers advice are also areas of development for a number of TPUs.

"Young parents are a diverse student group who face different challenges to other students at secondary school. They have to deal with the changes of having and caring for a child at a young age, and the associated cost and commitment - in addition to normal teenage pursuits. We need to support teen parents to continue their education and achieve what they want in terms of study and a career."

The purpose of TPUs is to provide a personalised educational journey for teen parents, supporting them to grow and achieve in the context of being a parent, student, and member of a wider whānau.

ERO review TPUs on a three year cycle. For this report, it reviewed 24 of the 25 TPUs. Overall, almost half of the TPUs demonstrated highly effective practices that had positive impacts on student outcomes. These TPUs had strong leadership, clear induction processes and transition processes, and supported students to engage in their learning and carry out their parenting responsibilities. They worked well with the host school leaders and teachers, early learning services and external agencies to ensure that the students were provided with the best advice and support for themselves and their child.

Nicholas Pole said: "We are hopeful that this evaluation and the recommendations made in it have some impact. Our findings show that is really important for TPUs and host schools to work together and collaborate with others to ensure their learning programmes are specific to the strengths, interests and career pathways identified by their students - supporting them to improve the education, health and wellbeing of those young parents and their children."

Link to report: http://www.ero.govt.nz/publications/teen-parent-units/