Tangaroa College Teen Parent Unit - 31/10/2013

1 Background

The Connected Learning Centre is an attached unit of Tangaroa College. There are currently 21 Ministry of Education funded teen parent units (TPUs) operating across New Zealand. TPUs provide a flexible and supportive environment for teenagers who are pregnant or who have given birth. 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:

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

2 Findings


The Connected Learning Centre is the name of the teen parent unit (TPU) located on the grounds of its host school, Tangaroa College, in Otara, Auckland. The TPU operates out of an attractive and purpose built facility. The management team, including the board of trustee’s chairperson, the school principal and the TPU director, has been in place since the TPU’s establishment in 2005. An early childhood education centre is located directly across the road from the TPU and provides care and education for the students’ children if they choose. Most students at this teen parent unit are either Pacific or Māori.

At the time of the 2010 ERO review and until the start of 2013, the teen parent unit operated with its own staff to run teaching and learning programmes, with a strong focus on literacy and numeracy. Due to the resignation of TPU teachers, staffing arrangements for the TPU have changed.

At the time of this 2013 ERO review, teaching staff from the host school are timetabled to teach or tutor in subjects such as maths, computing, health, and sciences. A part-time TPU staff member offers support and teaching in English and other subjects as needed. The director continues to teach home economics and oversees the early childhood education course. Since 2012 the host school principal has aligned the TPU operation more closely with Tangaroa College’s strategic direction, including increasing expectations for student achievement.

ERO’s 2010 report suggested that students would benefit from having greater responsibility and more leadership opportunities in making course decisions, and in the day-to-day operation of the unit.

The TPU is currently operating without a Memorandum of Understanding. The lack of Ministry of Education guidelines and expectations for teen parent units is creating issues for the host school and the TPU.

Student outcomes

Student achievement is well tracked and monitored by the TPU director. Priority is placed on students achieving literacy and numeracy requirements to gain University Entrance. The TPU data indicates that student attendance and retention has improved over the last two years.

Student achievement information from the Connected Learning Centre indicates that students are achieving very well at National Certificates of Educational Achievement (NCEA) levels 1, 2 and 3, and in University Entrance. Students are well supported to gain appropriate qualifications and transition into further study and/or work when they leave the teen parent unit.

Students have a strong sense of belonging in their learning space. They develop friendships with each other, and are supported to be effective learners and good mothers.

Leadership, management and organisation

The Connected Learning Centre continues to benefit from the commitment of the host school board of trustees, school leaders and TPU director to support the unit and promote positive outcomes for students. The TPU director places the wellbeing, education and care of teen mothers at the centre of decision making for teaching and learning and the operation of the unit.

Changes in staffing arrangements for 2013 have created challenges for the director and school leaders. The school has recently engaged a facilitator to support the school and TPU leaders to work in partnership, and to promote ongoing change and development in the teen parent unit.

Host school leaders and the TPU director recognise that key next steps for the future direction of the teen parent unit include them working in partnership to:

  • identify teachers from the host school to support students in the teen parent unit
  • provide induction and training opportunities for teachers who are new to teen parent education
  • establish a clear framework to trial and review changes made
  • review the funding provision for student meals in the teen parent unit.

Teaching and Learning

Teachers within the teen parent unit are enthusiastic and committed to promoting student success. They have positive relationships with students and promote student learning. A volunteer from the local community is currently providing students with good support with science and biology.

Te Kura correspondence school units of work provide the basis for most learning programmes in the teen parent unit. This approach means that students have access to a variety of subjects. Students receive most of their personalised support and tutorial learning from a combination of host school teachers and TPU staff. Students appreciate the personalised learning approaches that support their engagement and promote their progress and achievement.

The director acknowledges that it is timely to review the way the curriculum is designed and delivered. It could be useful to include students in this review and consider other ways that students can contribute to learning partnerships with their peers and teachers.

Student transitions and engagement

Students are well supported to enrol and settle into learning at the teen parent unit. They contribute to the development of their individual learning plans and are provided with access to services that support their overall wellbeing.

One of the mechanisms used to strengthen the TPU’s focus on learning and achievement is for students to sit an initial test to identify their level of achievement. Teachers are careful to make sure that students are comfortable with and understand the procedure. However, the director agrees that it could be useful to review the effectiveness of this testing initiative in engaging students in learning.

Increasingly, students are being better supported to explore career pathways and destinations as part of their individual learning plans. Currently, the director accesses careers advice and guidance informally through the host school. To further strengthen the way students plan their futures, she should now access the support of Careers NZ and plan more formally for student careers advice and guidance.

Relationships with external partners

The TPU has good partnerships with external agencies and services that support students in their roles as parents and learners, and promote their overall wellbeing. The director acknowledges that there is a need to further utilise these services so that students have access to a wider network to support their continued success. This approach is also likely to ease the director’s work load.

Young mothers have positive and purposeful relationships with managers and staff at the adjacent early childhood centre where their children receive care and education. Students report they are consulted about the aspirations and care needs they have for their children.

3 Future Action

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

Dale Bailey

National Manager Review Services

Northern Region

31 October 2013

About the Teen Parent Unit


Otara South, Auckland

Ministry of Education profile number


Teen Parent Unit roll


Gender composition

Girls 21

Ethnic composition


NZ European/Pākehā





Review team on site

August 2013

Date of this report

31 October 2013

Most recent ERO reports

Special Review

Special Review

June 2010

September 2006