Te Whakatipuranga (Otumoetai TPU) - 19/06/2017


Te Whakatipuranga TPU provides high-quality, inclusive and respectful education for young parents in an appropriate and well-resourced adult learning environment. Sound systems and practices promote student learning, safety and wellbeing. Students have individual programmes that respond to their identified aspirations and abilities and have the potential to lead to higher learning qualifications and opportunities. 

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

1 Background

Te Whakatipuranga (Otumoetai TPU) is an attached unit of Otumoetai 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


Te Whakatipuranga (Otumoetai TPU) is located on the Windermere campus of the Toi-Ohomai Polytechnic in Tauranga. It provides education and support for teenage parents until they are nineteen years of age. The TPU was established in 2001 and is governed by its host school Otumoetai College. Currently, 27 young parents from the wider Bay of Plenty area are enrolled, 20 of whom are Māori. Toi-Ohomai Polytechnic Childcare centre, situated near to the unit, provides education and care for many of the parents’ children.

Since the 2013 ERO review a new teacher in charge (TiC) was appointed at the end of 2016. Many staff remain involved with the unit for many years, providing stability of relationships and continuity of learning for young parents.

A significant upgrade to the building provides an attractive and well-resourced space for parents to care for young babies while they are continuing their studies. In addition, a private gym facility has been established in response to young parents’ interest in healthy exercise.

Teachers have made good progress with addressing the areas for improvement identified in the 2013 ERO review by maintaining and strengthening meaningful relationships with iwi and improving exit transitions in relation to career pathways.

Student outcomes

Leaders, teachers and staff gather comprehensive and meaningful information about outcomes for individual students. This information provides a holistic basis to respond to individual students:

  • language, culture and identity
  • attendance, engagement and academic progress and achievement
  • financial, health and wellbeing needs
  • social and destination outcomes.

This knowledge is well used to plan personalised learning goals and pathways that promote a strong sense of empowerment for students in their learning journey. Comprehensive and responsive pastoral care results in appropriate programmes and specialist support. These initiatives enhance participation and raise the quality of students’ health, finances, transportation and housing.

Young parents expressed appreciation for the positive and affirming relationships they have with teachers and staff. Many are motivated to pursue higher levels of learning and gain qualifications for the future in a culturally appropriate learning environment. There is a strong sense of whanaungatanga for students at Te Whakatipuranga.

Leadership, management and organisation

This TPU continues to benefit from highly effective leadership, management and organisation. The long standing, foundation members and previous teacher in charge (TiC) continue to provide significant support and role modelling for young parents and staff. They foster emergent leadership amongst students and teachers. A well-planned transition and mentoring of the newly appointed TiC has led to a smooth and positive change in leadership responsibilities. 

The unit continues to operate under the Memorandum of Understanding. Well-established and meaningful relationships with the host school promote:

  • regular and professional dialogue with college leaders and teachers
  • professional development for teachers and leaders in the unit
  • sharing of assessment and moderation processes
  • regular contact with the school nurse.

In addition the unit benefits from clear direction through close alignment with the host school’s strategic plan and robust appraisal process.

Leaders make highly effective use of strategically planned and emergent internal evaluation processes to improve practice and promote positive outcomes for students. The philosophy aims to place priority on developing learning pathways that provide a transition for young parents into tertiary education or employment.

Leaders and teachers enhance internal evaluation through maintaining meaningful relationships with the wider educational community that include:

  • external curriculum providers
  • participating in the regional Waikato, Bay of Plenty cluster group
  • attendance at national TPU conferences
  • Toi-Ohomai Polytechnic and Waikato University
  • early childhood centres where children of young parents are attending.

This participation is keeping teachers conversant with current best practice in teen parent education.


Teachers have implemented an interesting and holistic curriculum that responds to the intent of The New Zealand Curriculum. An emphasis is placed on building student competencies as self-managing, life-long learners. The values are well known and articulated by students. Key competencies have been integrated into the curriculum through a student responsibilities agreement. Consideration should now be given to engaging teachers, students and peers in assessing their progress against these clearly documented criteria. A feature of the TPU is the continuity and kaupapa of staff resulting in a highly regarded service that benefits from the confidence of the community.

Students benefit from learning in a home-like environment appropriate for young adults that incorporates real-life contexts for learning. Teachers, students and whānau develop and document individual learning plans that recognise and respond to the strengths, needs, interests and aspirations of each student. Comprehensive tracking and monitoring systems make the progress and achievement of students visible to them. A useful framework has been established that documents vocational learning pathways to support students to set high expectations for their achievement and goal setting. Teachers are flexible to respond to the changing needs of young parents. Students are empowered to take responsibility for managing their learning programme. This is contributing to the confidence and motivation of students as they prepare for transition to higher learning.

Students spoken to by ERO expressed appreciation and enthusiasm for the educational and pastoral support they receive through the programme. Many students show improving attendance and engagement as they participate in ongoing learning and achieve success. They experience opportunities to explore and document their whakapapa. Literacy and numeracy learning is integrated into the curriculum.

Students achieve at National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA) (Levels 1, 2, 3) and University Entrance. Some continue on to tertiary and higher qualifications and many find employment as a result of their learning. Overall results at the unit fluctuate with changing rolls as students enter and leave. Many students currently on the roll have been in the centre for a short time, making it difficult to report on trends and patterns. Students are able to access courses through the correspondence school, Te Kura, as appropriate.

Student support, engagement and transitions

The TPU is effectively supporting students to continue their learning in a responsive and respectful environment. Teachers continue to implement a well-planned and focused approach to induction into the unit. Each student develops a comprehensive individual learning plan and career pathway that is monitored by teachers. Teachers have established affirmative and respectful relationships with teen parents. They are positive and motivational role models who hold high expectations for success for young women. Students are engaged in their studies and experiencing success.

A useful matrix to record student career progressions has been developed. The matrix uses Ministry of Education career management competencies as well as a learning process taxonomy. Teachers now have a reliable and sound means to measure student progress in career competencies.

Teachers at the TPU are experienced at identifying and responding to students’ strengths, needs, interests and aspirations. A high proportion of parents identify as Māori from a number of iwi. These students benefit from:

  • leaders and staff with knowledge and understanding of Te Ao Māori
  • a skilled kuia who is a registered teacher, regularly shares her knowledge of te reo and tikanga and enhances the mana and hauora of young parents
  • culturally appropriate support for maternity and ante natal care and practices
  • tuakana-teina relationships and wananga.

A feature of this unit is the embedded, culturally responsive practice at every level of operation as a result of focused and ongoing internal review. This is promoting engagement and success for young Māori and Pacific Island parents. Leaders, teachers and staff know whānau and the community well, and maintain strong links with iwi.

Teachers and staff work to identify and remove barriers to student participation. This includes:

  • providing transportation to and from the unit with a drop-off service to early childhood centres

  • comprehensive pastoral care and specialist support tailored to individual needs

  • flexible learning that enables students to complete assignments and achieve qualifications in condensed timeframes

  • daily goal setting and feedback from teachers

  • an ongoing review of ways to support parents to continue learning during maternity leave through providing relevant and meaningful courses that respond to their current needs. 

There are good systems and processes in place to support students to successfully transition to further education, training and employment. The TPU is situated on the Toi-Ohomai Polytechnic campus. Students are familiar with the polytechnic environment and resources, which helps them to transition successfully. Tutors from the polytechnic visit students in the unit and talk about the different learning pathways available to them. They give advice to help the students understand tertiary expectations for presenting their work. Students are supported during transition by having a mentor.

Teachers maintain relationships with a wide range of providers, including university. Students are able to access courses of their choice and make use of distance education if needed. Many students undertake practical training with local businesses which enhances their employment opportunities.

Relationships with external partners

The TPU continues to maintain and build positive relationships and networks in the local and wider educational community to benefit young parents. A particular strength is the established and meaningful relationship with the Polytechnic. A key liaison person is a member of the District Health Board who has developed a Hapu Mama Curriculum being run through the Waikato to support and engage young parents. The unit maintains contact with providers of social and health services to meet the needs of the students.

The nearby early childhood centre maintains long-term and positive relationships with the TPU. There are well-planned transitions into the centre. Students benefit from a teacher at the centre who is a graduate of the TPU, with iwi connections in the community. TPU students are comfortable to settle their children in a vibrant centre practising calm and respectful practice.

3 Recommendations

ERO recommends that leaders and teachers consider further ways to

  • make greater use of digital technology for more effectively sharing and managing communication amongst all stakeholders
  • ensure all students receive regular, quality feedback about their progress and next steps for learning.

In addition, leaders recognise the importance of accessing a student management system that responds to the unique needs and settings of a TPU.

4 Conclusion

Te Whakatipuranga TPU provides high-quality, inclusive and respectful education for young parents in an appropriate and well-resourced adult learning environment. Sound systems and practices promote student learning, safety and wellbeing. Students have individual programmes that respond to their identified aspirations and abilities and have the potential to lead to higher learning qualifications and opportunities. 

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

Lynda Pura-Watson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Waikato / Bay of Plenty

19 June 2017

About the Teen Parent Unit 



Ministry of Education profile number


Teen Parent Unit roll


Gender composition

Female 27

Ethnic composition


Number of students







Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

19 June 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Report type

Report date

Special Review

Special Review

October 2013

June 2010