Stratford High School Teen Parent Unit - 30/06/2017


Stratford High School TPU provides high quality teaching and learning for students who are also parents through individually tailored programmes, diverse opportunities and comprehensive support systems. Committed, experienced teachers and a well-resourced, well organised environment enable students to achieve valuable skills and qualifications for the next steps in their lives. 

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

1 Background

Stratford High School Teen Parent Unit is an attached unit of Stratford High School. There are currently 24 Ministry of Education funded Teen Parent Units (TPUs) operating across New Zealand. TPUs provide a flexible and supportive environment for students 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


Stratford High School TPU is a purpose-built facility located in the grounds of Stratford High School, providing education and support for high school students who are parents. There is an attached early learning centre (ELC) catering for the children of these students and children from the wider community. The TPU is licensed to accommodate up to 25 students and at the time of the review 11 students were enrolled from the greater Taranaki area, 6 of whom were Māori.

The current Unit head of Whaimana Ako was previously one of the co-heads and has continued to develop the positive aspects noted in the 2013 report. Significant progress has been made in tracking, improving and reporting student achievement against goals and in using data to inform decision making. There has also been considerable progress in embedding Māori perspectives and practices into all aspects of the Unit, as part of the development and implementation of the Unit’s values.

There is a strong and respectful relationship with the host school.

Student outcomes

Leaders and staff have established transparent and effective practices for gathering and analysing information about individual students. This includes academic, health and wellbeing, family and social, cultural and aspirational information which enables the staff to ensure that the holistic needs of each student are met. All students co-construct with staff and whānau academic and wellbeing goals which are monitored and discussed regularly.

The target for achievement in 2016 was that all students would achieve their next qualification within 40 weeks of enrolling and this was met with 100% success. The majority of students are achieving NCEA and other valued qualifications. All students who left in 2016 achieved Level 3 NCEA and most went on to employment or tertiary education.

Leadership, management and organisation

This Unit benefits from strong, highly effective leadership based on a clear vision for positive outcomes for all students. Respectful relationships and transparent, consistent processes and structures provide an environment in which students feel safe, supported, valued and empowered. Students see the staff as role models.

The Unit operates under the Memorandum of Understanding with the host school and there is a constructive and cooperative relationship supported by:

  • monthly formal reporting to the Principal and board, and regular informal communication
  • a Deputy Principal who provides effective liaison with the host school
  • clear delegation of operational decisions to the Unit Head
  • alignment of the Unit’s and school’s strategic framework, within which the Unit develops specific goals
  • collaboration around key processes and procedures, such as moderation and appraisal.

There is a strong reciprocal relationship with the connected ELC based on:

  • effective and open communication
  • sharing of information and collaborative approach to planning and initiatives
  • ongoing parenting assistance provided by the ELC on both an informal and formal basis.

The Unit has a planned approach to internal evaluation at both a strategic and an operational level. The outcomes of reviews and data analysis are used to assess all aspects of the Unit’s operations and to inform future decisions aimed at ongoing improvement.


Stratford High School TPU offers a wide curriculum tailored to meet individual interests, abilities and needs. Students access NCEA courses, other national certificates, tertiary courses and parenting and personal development programmes.

High expectations are explicit and are consistently implemented. Most students achieve an NCEA level within a year. There is a strong focus on acknowledging and celebrating academic, behavioural or personal success with students and whānau.

The Unit is staffed to provide experienced and skilled teachers who are able to adapt to the differing requirements of individual learning, small classes and whole group sessions. Learning is further effectively supported through:

  • use of digital technology, especially to access courses through Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura), the Correspondence School, and other on-line providers
  • access to the host school facilities
  • good use of STAR funding and Gateway to explore career pathways
  • maximising daily operations, such as preparing lunch as rich learning opportunities
  • integration of Māori concepts in Unit values, practices and programmes.

Students are well supported through the use of their individual learning plans (ILPs) to understand and take responsibility for their own learning. As part of their ILP, students assess their progress against their personal goals, the TPU’s values and key competencies. They work on a daily basis with staff to analyse and address barriers and monitor academic, personal and leadership development. There are also formal weekly and termly meetings and twice-yearly reporting.

Unit information shows, as a result of a range of strategies, considerable improvement over time in attendance, engagement, achievement and retention. In 2016, 75% of students achieved 70% attendance or higher, an increase from 2015. This improvement has continued in the first part of 2017.

There are clear guidelines for teaching and learning that are regularly reviewed. Staff work with the host school on aspects of teaching practice, curriculum development, assessment and moderation. The Unit has clear, well-documented systems for appraisal, aligned with the host school. Teachers have a sound understanding of appraisal and inquiry and have developed a culture of ongoing reflection.

Student support, engagement and transitions

Stratford High School TPU is very effective in supporting and promoting student engagement. Staff are highly motivated and committed to the young women in the unit and intentionally create an environment where the students feel valued, supported, and empowered.

Well-considered processes and documentation enable students and whānau to feel welcome, understand the culture and expectations of the TPU, and enable staff to assess learning and wellbeing needs prior to entry.

The alignment of TPU and ELC, through transparent systems and ongoing communication, ensures the smooth transition of both the student and their children.

Staff work to promote engagement by:

  • ensuring comprehensive and sustainable pastoral and other specialist support for the students and their children
  • providing transport to and from the unit and to courses and appointments
  • encouraging whānau engagement through planned activities and home visits
  • allowing flexibility around learning in order to accommodate the needs of the students, especially those on maternity leave
  • including students in decision making and the running of the Unit and creating a sense of belonging and skill development in an authentic context
  • celebrating success and creating fun activities that build a sense of team
  • setting high expectations of attendance and achievement
  • valuing student feedback and voice.

Considerable progress has been made to embed culturally responsive values, practices and understandings. A carefully-planned approach has led to a greater involvement of whānau and there has been an increase in the number of Māori students enrolling in the unit.

As a result of internal evaluation, planning and follow-up processes have been strengthened to better support students’ transition to work and further learning. Students are now very well supported and have an extensive range of opportunities. A comprehensive planning process involving the student and her child ensures readiness for future steps. Staff maintain active formal contact for a year after a student leaves.

Relationships with external partners

The TPU is very effective at building and maintaining strong relationships and networks to support positive outcomes for the students. They have very sound working relationships with key tertiary, careers and workplace training providers. This enables a wide range of courses to meet the diverse needs of the students. Students requiring work experience and other workplace learning are very well supported by local employers.

Effective relationships have been developed with an extensive range of health and other specialist services to ensure that students and their children are well supported.

A number of community organisations are involved with the unit to support learning opportunities.

3 Recommendations

The unit head and ERO agree that the TPU needs to:

  • continue to develop a reciprocal relationship with local iwi
  • continue to embed bicultural practices and understandings in all aspects of the Unit to promote successful outcomes for Māori and young parents.

4 Conclusion

Stratford High School TPU provides high quality teaching and learning for students who are also parents through individually tailored programmes, diverse opportunities and comprehensive support systems. Committed, experienced teachers and a well-resourced, well organised environment enable students to achieve valuable skills and qualifications for the next steps in their lives. 

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

30 June 2017

About the Teen Parent Unit 



Ministry of Education profile number


Teen Parent Unit roll


Gender composition

100 % female

Ethnic composition


Number of students





Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

30 June 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Special Review

November 2013

Special Review

September 2010