Pa Harakeke Teen Parent Unit - 13/06/2017


Students are learning in an attractive and well-resourced environment. There is a need for the board of trustees, principal and TPU leaders to seek support from the Ministry of Education to address the areas for development identified in this report.

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

1 Background

Pa Harakeke Teen Parent Unit is an attached unit of Tokoroa High School. 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 


Pa Harakeke is located near the Tokoroa High School campus in Tokoroa. It provides education and support for teenage parents and adult students with children. The unit was established in 2011 and is governed by the board of trustees at Tokoroa High School. At the time of this review there were 10 young parents on the roll, 9 of whom were of Māori descent, from a variety of rohe and places.

Since the 2015 ERO review there has been a change in leadership. One staff member continues to provide continuity of learning for students. The teacher-in-charge has a focus on sustainability and initiated a vegetable composting garden which provides opportunities for students to gain related credits.

Leaders and management have made good progress in addressing the areas for improvement identified in the 2015 ERO report related to:

  • reviewing and updating policies and procedures
  • regular reporting to the board of trustees on student progress and achievement

The Memorandum of Understanding between the host school and the TPU needs to be current and up to date. There is also significant need to review aspects of the quality of education provided by the TPU so that more young parents in the local area and wider community benefit from the service.

Student outcomes

A small number of students achieve National Certificate Educational Achievement (NCEA) Levels 1, 2, 3 and UE literacy, and continue onto tertiary or employment opportunities. The data also shows that students who remain in the unit over time make good progress and gain higher levels of achievement and employment. This student achievement information shows an urgent need to review educational outcomes and expectations and career pathways for students.

Good use is made of the student management system to track and monitor student achievement information. A recent initiative was displaying this information for individual students to support them in setting their individual learning goals and tracking their progress.

Leadership, management and organisation

Leadership, management and organisation is not yet effectively meeting the expectations of Ministry of Education (MoE) Guidelines. To improve practice, it is now important to:

  • document a memorandum of understanding between the TPU and the host school which sets clear expectations for roles and responsibilities of the management committee and the teacher-in-charge

  • implement internal evaluation systems and processes linked to the MoE Guidelines and expectations for best practice

  • develop strategic and annual planning aligned to Tokoroa High School’s strategic direction, identifying appropriate personnel, responsibilities, budgeting and resourcing, timeframes and expected outcomes, that support the unit to meet its goals

  • implement robust appraisal systems and professional learning and development opportunities that provide staff with opportunities to continually build their capability in teaching and learning in a TPU setting

  • integrate culturally responsive practices that promote success for Māori as Māori, including the teaching and learning of te reo and tikanga Māori

  • provide students with access to a rich, well planned curriculum which is diverse, engaging and intellectually stimulating.


The Pa Harakeke curriculum plan 2017 requires strengthening to include the outcomes developed by the MoE for teen parent units. The majority of students are studying through Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura), The Correspondence School. Some students gain credits and participate in authentic learning through the TPU sustainability gardening project with a subject teacher. Students are able to gain credits and qualifications through a Barista course.

Students would benefit from further opportunities to learn from specialist subject teachers and pursue higher educational pathways. Student placements for Gateway were implemented in 2017. Students need opportunities to explore and participate in the wider community for sporting, cultural and educational experiences. Students with strengths and interests in Te Reo Māori need to access specialist subject teachers who can support their continued development and success as Māori.

Individual learning plans would be improved by including the strengths, aspirations and interests of students. While students document their goals, teachers are yet to show how they will support students to achieve these goals through deliberate daily and long term planning, evaluation and assessment.

Leaders and teachers acknowledge the need to integrate culturally responsive programmes into daily practices. There is a need for teachers to formally document and respond to student voice.

The TPU unit has not yet effectively analysed how the programme is improving student attendance, engagement and educational achievement.

It is now important for teachers to co-construct, document and provide feedback to students about their progress towards meeting:

  • key and career management competencies
  • the TPU cultural values
  • the intent of their philosophy to ‘nurture parents in their life journey and education and ensure the continual life and growth of Te Rito’.

Student support, engagement and transitions

Student engagement and success would be enhanced by strengthening induction and transition processes. Some students expressed appreciation of the support they receive as teen parent students. It is important for leaders and teachers to review how well students are able to experience equitable opportunities, wellbeing and belonging that promote their engagement and success.

A helpful initiative is the transportation provided for young parents to and from the unit and a drop- off service for children to several early childhood centres. An incentive to encourage attendance is the opportunity for students to gain credits through acquiring a driver’s license.

A next step for the TPU is to strengthen careers and vocational pathways to assist transition for students into further employment and higher education.

Relationships with external partners

The TPU currently has four students in GATEWAY placements in the local community. Through the principal’s leadership, the relationship with Waikato University has been strengthened. A recently revitalised community group that includes whānau and Pacific parents meets regularly, and has expressed an interest in supporting the TPU.

Students would benefit from planned and timetabled opportunities for external agencies to visit the centre to strengthen and support student wellbeing.

3 Recommendations

ERO, the TPU manager, and the host school principal and board agree that there is an urgent need to improve the quality of education provided in the TPU. ERO recommends that the Ministry of Education provides support to address the following key priorities:

  • leadership and management systems that are aligned with Ministry operational guidelines
  • student engagement, progress and achievement
  • effective teaching and learning practices in a TPU setting
  • internal evaluation processes
  • culturally responsive practices that value the language, culture and identity of all students.

4 Conclusion

Students are learning in an attractive and well-resourced environment. There is a need for the board of trustees, principal and TPU leaders to seek support from the Ministry of Education to address the areas for development identified in this report.

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato and Bay of Plenty

13 June 2017

About the Teen Parent Unit 



Ministry of Education profile number


Teen Parent Unit roll


Gender composition

Female 9 Male 1

Ethnic composition


Number of students





Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

13 June 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Special Review

Special Review

March 2015

October 2013