Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit - 28/07/2017


The Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit provides excellent learning opportunities for teenage parents in a responsive, supportive and respectful environment. The highly skilled staff are committed to   achieving the best possible outcomes for their students, enabling them to achieve meaningful qualifications and develop life-long skills. 

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

1 Background

Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit is an attached unit of Makoura 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


The Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit is based in the grounds of Makoura College. It provides education and support for teenage parents from the Masterton area and beyond. At the time of the review 21 students were enrolled, 15 of whom were Maori.

The unit enjoys a strong, collaborative and positive relationship with the host school and with the attached early learning centre (ELC).

The unit, now under a new director, previously received a very positive ERO report and the good practices identified have been sustained. There is an ongoing culture of reflection and review with a view to constant improvement.

Student outcomes

Leaders and staff have ongoing thorough and transparent practices for gathering and analysing data on individual students’ progress and outcomes. This includes data on academic progress, health and wellbeing, family, social and cultural contexts and aspirations. Staff monitor all of these areas closely and work with students to overcome barriers and ensure positive outcomes.

Students know there are expectations for them to achieve their goals and that they will be supported to do so. Unit data shows that during their time at the TPU most students increase their NCEA credits and their qualifications. Reporting for 2016 shows there was a 100% pass of both numeracy and literacy and more than half the students achieved all their learning targets.

The unit closely tracks leavers and their destinations. A number go on to further education or employment. The unit has identified the shortage of appropriate housing in the area as a major factor in retention and is actively working to find suitable solutions that will enable more students to continue their education in the unit.

Leadership, management and organisation

The unit is very effectively managed, based on a philosophy and commitment to teenage parents which is shared across governance, leadership and teaching staff. The vision is embedded in the practice and the values, which are extrapolated clearly into practical behaviours and are well known by staff and students.

Unit goals and targets, based on internal evaluation and data analysis, are decided on collaboratively and form part of the annual plan.

Processes and practices are collaboratively constructed, consistent, clearly documented and transparent. Staffing is done in a considered manner to meet the needs of the students.

The unit operates under a Memorandum of Understanding with the host school. This is supported by:

  • thorough understanding by host school leadership and governance of the vision and operation of the unit
  • annual reporting to the Board
  • regular meetings between principal and director
  • alignment of strategic goals with the strategic framework of the host school
  • clear delegation of operational decisions to the unit director
  • staff and student access to resources and facilities.

The unit has a comprehensive, multi-layered and thorough approach to self-review. Major strategic internal evaluation as part of ongoing improvement is carried out annually. Teachers’ inquiry projects and a series of spontaneous reviews of programmes and processes form part of the cycle of ongoing review and improvement. The appraisal system, which is thorough and reflective, is carried out in line with the host school appraisal system, and staff share professional development around this and other key areas of teaching and learning with the host school staff.

The culture of reflection is seen not only in the staff but also in the students through the ways in which they are encouraged to reflect and analyse on a daily basis. Student feedback is sought frequently as part of the ongoing self-review cycle.

The relationship with the attached ELC is very positive and collaborative. The director of the TPU is on the management committee of the ELC.


The Wairarapa TPU offers a broad range of learning programmes individually tailored to the students and using a variety of specialist providers. Students can achieve NCEA and other qualifications such as Level 4 courses, drivers' licence and national certificates.

The unit has a structured timetable which provides clear expectations and a sense of framework. This is part of an overall belief in providing clarity and purpose.

The programme has been carefully constructed to provide a holistic balance. Students experience a blend of individual, small group and class tuition and a range of providers. There is a deliberate, well planned approach to supporting student wellbeing through the mana wahine programme which covers social, emotional and physical wellbeing.

All students participate in a parenting programme, a tikanga programme and a comprehensive careers programme, based around the careers benchmarks. Programmes, practices and the environment reflect a developing bicultural perspective.

Students are involved in many aspects of the unit's organisation and there are clearly defined leadership roles. These opportunities enable the development of valuable key competencies and create a sense of belonging, pride and tuakana-teina.

Teachers display a high level of commitment and expertise. They know the students well, make the learning relevant for each and encourage critical thinking, student agency and perseverance.

Learning is actively supported by close and transparent monitoring of attendance by the students themselves and by staff. A range of strategies is used to encourage regular attendance.

Students expressed a sense of belonging to the unit. They engaged well with their peers, and their learning, and were planning their future learning and life pathways.

Student support, engagement and transitions

The unit is very effective at promoting student engagement and success.

Transition practices ensure students enrolling are thoroughly assessed, well informed and warmly welcomed to the unit in a flexible and personalised time frame.

The unit works with a wide range of outside specialist and voluntary agencies so that each student receives the support she requires for herself and her child. Unit and ELC staff work with the whānau to ensure the child is well settled.

The unit has intentionally created opportunities for whānau to become more involved. These are reviewed and adjusted as necessary as part of the ongoing operational reflective process. 

Students’ strengths, needs, interests and aspirations are assessed by staff using a wide range of methods. This information enables programmes to be constructed with the student. Close, regular monitoring and the open, respectful relationships between staff and students allow barriers to be identified, explored and addressed.

Student achievement, progress and attendance are tracked and monitored by staff and students through the ILPs, which are thorough, well used and reflective. Staff are highly skilled at ensuring students maintain positive pathways.

There is a strong culture within the unit of celebrating successes and milestones and students take pride in their own and others’ accomplishments.

Transition beyond the unit is carefully structured, planned and documented to ensure readiness. Opportunities to hear visiting speakers, have work and training experience and explore options are made available. Former students regularly visit. The unit follows up with those who have left to ensure a smooth transition and continue to assist if required.

Relationships with external partners

The director has established useful relationships with a wide range of key educational providers and community agencies in order to meet the needs of the individual students and supplement the expertise and resources of the unit staff and the host school staff. Te Kura courses enable students to access a wide curriculum and students achieve a range of useful qualifications through tertiary providers. 

Local business are supportive in providing work experience and training and local voluntary groups provide additional support. 

The unit director and staff have a clear understanding of their roles as educators. They are proactive in accessing resources and services in the immediate community and lower North Island. These support the psychological, emotional, physical and practical needs of the students in order to ensure they are able to concentrate on their studies and their children.

The relationship between the unit and the ELC is one of collaboration, communication and respect and is focused on positive outcomes for mothers and their children. The ELC is community-based and this is seen as an advantage by both unit and centre, with valued reciprocal relationships occurring between the community and TPU parents.

3 Recommendations

ERO recommends that leaders and teachers:

  • continue to develop relationships with local iwi and further embed bicultural perspectives in the curriculum to support the learning and wellbeing of the young parents.

4 Conclusion

The Wairarapa Teen Parent Unit provides excellent learning opportunities for teenage parents in a responsive, supportive and respectful environment. The highly skilled staff are committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for their students, enabling them to achieve meaningful qualifications and develop life-long skills.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

28 July 2017

About the Teen Parent Unit 



Ministry of Education profile number


Teen Parent Unit roll


Gender composition

Female: 100%

Ethnic composition


Number of students





Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

28 July 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Report type

Report date

Special Review

Special Review

November 2013

August 2010