Northland College Teen Parent Unit - 21/06/2017


Hiwa i te rangi TPU is setting up appropriate systems to support and mentor teen parents in the Kaikohe and Northland communities. They are establishing procedures aligned to the host school and an annual plan to guide developments. Tikānga Māori underpins the vision and all TPU operations. Students are appreciative of opportunities to develop positive parenting skills, re-engage in learning and gain formal qualifications.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

1 Background

Northland College Teen Parent Unit, also known as Hiwa i te rangi is an attached unit of Northland College. There are currently 24 Ministry of Education funded TPUs operating across New Zealand. TPUs provide a flexible and supportive environment for teenagers who are parents or are about to become parents. Attendance at a TPU gives students an opportunity to continue their education and develop the best possible pathway for their future and the future of their children.

ERO reviews all of the TPUs every three years. Each unit receives an individual report outlining areas of good performance and areas for further development. The terms of reference for these reviews are set out below. The findings across each of the TPUs contribute to a national report by ERO which presents findings about the overall quality of all TPUs.

Terms of Reference

The evaluation focus for ERO’s review of Teen Parent Units is:

How effective are the TPUs in promoting and supporting positive outcomes for students?

In the context of this review, student outcomes include their educational, social, health and wellbeing outcomes. It also includes student destination outcomes, and the success students have in transitioning from the TPU to further education, training or employment.

The terms of reference for the evaluation of TPUs are the:

  1. quality of individual support for each student (including IEPs and educational, pastoral and careers processes)
  2. educational and social outcomes for each student (including the quality of the teaching and the TPU’s self review)
  3. relationship with the base school (including the governance and management of the TPU)
  4. transitions of students into and out of the TPU.

2 Findings


What are the important features of this TPU that have an impact on student outcomes?

Hiwa i te rangi is a Teen Parent Unit hosted by Northland College in Kaikohe. The unit opened in February 2016 in temporary premises with support from the host school Board of Trustees and Ministry of Education regional support services. Named after a star in the constellation Matariki, inspiring hope and aspiration, Hiwa i te rangi is the only TPU north of Whangarei.

Hiwa i te rangi moved to new purpose-built premises that were formally opened in early 2017. The spacious facilities, located between the college, primary school and adjacent early learning centre (ELC) are well situated. They consist of two large classrooms, a technology/kitchen area, administration area, meeting room and offices, and wide covered decks. The outdoor area has a landscaping plan due for completion.

Hiwa i te rangi is designed to accommodate up to 30 students. There are currently 9 students enrolled, two of whom returned from 2016. The host school board of trustees (BoT) has been closely involved in the establishment of the unit since it opened in 2016. Trustees at that time, appointed an experienced primary school teacher to manage the unit and have since appointed a full time teacher, two part-time teaching staff, and an office administrator.

The board chair and principal of the host school consider the unit to be an integral and valued asset of the educational community in Kaikohe. They have been supported by Ministry of Education (MoE) advisers, and are currently working with the TPU manager to develop operational systems and to align the TPU vision to the college charter. The Memorandum of Understanding with the MOE is ready to be formally adopted.

It is expected that with the opening of the new premises and the expansion of the adjacent early learning centre, the roll Hiwa i te rangi will grow. This is the TPU’s first ERO review.

Student outcomes

What does this TPU know about outcomes for individual students?

Stated outcomes that are valued by the TPU staff and management committee relate to the MoE TPU Indicator Framework, prioritising health and wellbeing indicators. For some students, regular attendance, engagement in learning, personal health, and parenting skills are significant achievements.

The TPU also values academic gains, although 2016 information indicates these were limited, as the unit was not fully functioning and roll numbers and attendance fluctuated. Very positive relationships were formed between the staff and with students and whānau. One student gained Level 4 NZQA nursing qualifications that have progressed their personal career goals.

Teachers have developed an Individual Learning Plan (ILP) template to help students to set measurable learning outcomes related to their academic, social and careers goals. Students are supported individually to complete their ILPs after they settle into routines and expectations for learning. There is a clear focus on setting long-term goals, and on enhancing social and personal outcomes.

Teachers identify attendance and retention as key challenges. Of the 12 students enrolled in 2016, most left for unknown destinations. After only one year of operation, there is insufficient data to identify longer term achievement or leaver destination patterns or trends.

Leadership, management and organisation

How effective is the leadership, management and organisation of this TPU?

The staff of Hiwa i te rangi work together collegially and are well supported by the host school and members of the establishment committee. They have had some opportunities for professional development and are developing useful contacts with teachers at the host school.

The manager of Hiwa i te rangi has built a positive team culture, and reports regularly to the host school board and to the MoE. Consultation with staff contributed to the 2017 TPU annual plan that is aligned to the host school’s charter, and sets out clear goals for the year.

Staff are making good progress in developing TPU procedures related to the host school policy framework. There are still a number to complete, and those related to health and safety should be developed as a priority.

A process for internal evaluation is being developed, based on the annual goals. Teachers and students continually discuss how the programme and learning outcomes can be improved. There is insufficient information at this stage to evaluate patterns and trends in student learning outcomes over time.

The manager and the host school principal have made useful contact with a well-established TPU and its host school in Whangarei to assist them establish management and governance systems. It would be beneficial for the manager and staff for this support to continue, and for them to join the national TPU network, and attend the annual TPU conference.

The management committee was very supportive in setting up the TPU during 2016. The involvement of the ELC manager is important to maintain so that procedures for transitioning babies into the ELC are clearly understood. The host school principal agrees that meetings of the management committee should be rescheduled to assist the manager maintain these contacts.


What is the quality of the curriculum at this TPU?

The curriculum offers academic learning opportunities for national qualifications, as well as social and personal development and parenting skills. The curriculum meets the needs of individual students currently enrolled. Managers agree that the curriculum could be further developed with the addition of formal careers education, and health and physical wellbeing programmes.

Most students are currently working towards National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) at Level 1 or 2 in literacy, numeracy, te reo Māori, social studies, and media studies. Teachers provide regular feedback and encouragement and assist students to complete learning activities provided through Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu, the Correspondence School (Te Kura).

Teachers respond to the learning needs of students individually. They update each student’s National Qualifications (NZQA) Record of Learning and design a programme to build on these achievements. They also explore individual career interests to ensure the programme matches students’ long term goals.

Students proudly identify as Māori. There is a strong focus on recognizing Māori language culture and iwi and hāpu affiliations. This is evident in the use of te reo Māori, and in the lived values of aroha, wairuatānga, whanaungatānga and manaākitānga. The programme is relevant to students’ interests. They particularly enjoy the focus in social studies on the Treaty of Waitangi and the opportunities to extend their knowledge of te reo and tikānga Māori.

Students also appreciate the learning opportunities offered in media studies and have made a video based on their personal aspirations. They like the emphasis on developing critical thinking and social problem-solving skills. Students engage positively in the learning activities teachers provide, both in small groups and individually.

Career education programmes have not yet been formalised. Teachers plan to explore with the host school how Gateway programmes, career education and work experience could further enrich students’ learning and vocational pathways.

Student support, engagement and transitions

How well does this TPU support and promote student engagement and success?

The manager and staff provide a very supportive environment. They arrange daily transport to the TPU and understand the issues that impact on attendance and wellbeing. They use digital technologies, including Facebook, to communicate with students. Their strong connections with community agencies enable them to provide students and their families with specific health, welfare and personal support.

Some of the students have whānau support, but others are living independently. Teachers assist mothers and babies at enrolment. They go with the mothers to the ELC when babies are six months or older, and stay with them as they both adjust to the early childhood environment. Students enjoy seeing their babies developing and appreciate the benefits of early childhood care and education.

Many students had been out of school for over a year when they first enrol. Some have found the five-day-week school expectations too difficult to manage, but others have successfully re-engaged in learning. When regular attendance is a challenge, students and staff reset goals and find ways to support each other to overcome the difficulties.

Students set long term personal goals through their individual learning plans. It could be useful for these goals to have short term measurable outcomes and for students to have a set time to reflect on progress with their weekly goals. Currently there is little information about leaver destinations but the manager is looking at ways to keep in touch with students when they leave the TPU.

Relationships with external partners

How well does this TPU work within their educational and community context to promote student outcomes?

The staff make good use of partnerships with local service providers. Relationships with social agencies, in particular with WINZ, health services, doctors, dentists, social workers and whānau networks are well used. The ELC is ideally located near the TPU and the ELC manager works closely with the staff and students to support their goals. Parenting information is shared and children’s progress and development is documented and celebrated.

Te Kura provides mathematics programmes at NCEA Level 1 and 2 for all students. Courses through Northland’s tertiary colleges and the Open Polytechnic are also available to support the learning programmes and meet students’ individual needs. Although STAR and Gateway placements are not currently used, the manager understands the potential of using these resources in the future. 

3 Recommendations

What are the key next steps for this TPU?

ERO, the manager and the host school principal and trustees agree on the following next steps.

The manager and the host school principal should:

  • re-establish the TPU management committee

  • complete the development of TPU procedures aligned to BOT policies

  • implement a hazard management system, including lock-down procedures for the safety of staff and students.

The manager agrees that the learning programme could be strengthened by:

  • establishing a reflective weekly diary system for students to record short term goals

  • conducting a survey to find out what students want to learn about wellbeing, including sexuality education and relationships.

ERO also recommends that the manager:

  • continues to network with other TPUs and considers the need for professional supervision

  • considers ways to increase student retention through making provision for students to attend with their babies from 6 weeks.

4 Conclusion

Hiwa i te rangi TPU is setting up appropriate systems to support and mentor teen parents in the Kaikohe and Northland communities. They are establishing procedures aligned to the host school and an annual plan to guide developments. Tikānga Māori underpins the vision and all TPU operations. Students are appreciative of opportunities to develop positive parenting skills, re-engage in learning and gain formal qualifications.

ERO is likely to carry out the next review in three years.

Violet Tu’uga Stevenson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Northern (Acting)

21 June 2017

About the Teen Parent Unit 


Kaikohe, Northland

Ministry of Education profile number


Teen Parent Unit roll


Gender composition

Girls 9

Ethnic composition



Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

21 June 2017

Most recent ERO reports

First ERO review