Whakatipuria Teen Parent Unit - 26/06/2017


This TPU is effectively promoting and supporting positive outcomes for students. Key practices effectively support student engagement and success. Students benefit from individualised learning programmes that respond well to their interests, strengths, needs and aspirations. Student health and wellbeing needs are also well supported through targeted programmes and regular access to relevant specialists. 

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

1 Background

Whakatipuria Teen Parent Unit (TPU) is an attached unit of Freyberg 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


The Whakatipuria Teen Parent Unit is located next to the host school, Freyberg High School, in a purpose-built facility with an early learning service (ELS) attached. The ELS is managed by a community trust and has tagged places for children of the young parents. There are currently 22 young parents enrolled in the unit. Students mainly come from Palmerston North city. Free transport is provided to enable students and their children to attend the unit and ELS. 

Governance is undertaken by the board of trustees of the host school. The unit is led by an experienced director and is staffed by one full-time and two part-time teachers, including specialist teachers in mathematics, English and technology (including visual arts). A social worker employed by the ELS governing trust supports students to access a range of government and community services.

Good progress has been made on the areas identified for development in the last ERO education review in 2013.

Student outcomes

Achievement of educational outcomes is closely monitored. Unit information for 2016 shows that about 50% of students achieved or exceeded their personal learning goals for that year. A high proportion of those students who attend for two years or more successfully achieve at NCEA Level 2 and 3. Many students are also gaining other national certificates (for example in retail, early childhood education and hospitality) and qualifications (driver’s licence and first aid certificate).

The director and teachers have identified a need to prioritise student learning and achievement in core literacy and numeracy areas and university entrance-approved subjects to ensure students are well prepared for tertiary learning pathways.

Student attendance is closely monitored. There has been limited improvement in attendance levels since the last review. The unit’s internal evaluation has shown that most students have justifiable reasons for their absences.

There is limited analysis or reporting on patterns of student retention over time and/or how this is related to achievement.

There is little documented information about how well students are progressing or achieving against other learning, such as personal, health and wellbeing goals.

Unit information shows that most students who remain with the unit for two years or more transition on to work and further learning.

Leadership, management and organisation

Aspects of the leadership, management and organisation of this TPU are effective.

The board of trustees of the host school receives good quality achievement information from the unit. However, it receives limited analysis of outcome information or reporting against strategic and annual plans. The principal meets regularly with the director of the unit and is well informed about the unit’s activities.

Some processes and systems for allocating resourcing lack rigour and transparency. The director has limited input into a range of resourcing decisions for the unit which has at times negatively impacted on the quality and responsiveness of unit programmes.

There is a need for improved collaboration and communication between the unit and the ELS at both the governance and operational levels. This would contribute to strengthened wrap-around support for students and their children.

The director works collaboratively with unit staff to develop the unit strategic and annual plans. These reflect aspects of the host school plans and priorities. The director works constructively with staff and students to facilitate and implement a shared vision and values for the unit.

The director leads and models a reflective culture and involves teachers and students in reviewing many aspects of the unit’s operations. These lead to changes and improvements in unit practices and structures. Internal evaluation could be strengthened through a more planned approach that is well aligned to the unit’s vision, values and strategic priorities. There is also a need to improve assurance to the board that key policies and procedures are being implemented consistently in the unit, or as appropriate to the setting.


The curriculum at this TPU effectively responds to students’ strengths, needs, interests and aspirations. Students are offered a broad range of courses. Good use is made of other training providers, the host school and Te Kura (Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu – the Correspondence School) to offer courses not taught by the unit’s teachers.

Students benefit from being able to follow individualised learning programmes and receiving one-to-one support from teachers. Those students not making expected progress are given additional support and mentoring to help them succeed.

Teachers and students are making more use of digital technology to access and enhance learning. However, this is being hampered by limited access to reliable equipment and infrastructure.

Bicultural perspectives are well integrated in some learning areas and unit practices. There could be a more planned approach to building culturally responsive practices and curriculum across unit operations.

Some use is made of external specialists and organisations to deliver a range of wellbeing, life skills and personal development programmes. These are planned on an as-needed basis. They could be better integrated in regular routines and evaluated for effectiveness in promoting positive outcomes for students.

Opportunities to participate in regular physical activities, such as swimming and netball, are well supported by the unit and appreciated by students.

Teachers take responsibility for building their own professional capability. They attend relevant professional development at the host school and at the attached early learning service and undertake planned inquiries into the effectiveness of their teaching.

Student support, engagement and transitions

This TPU has many processes and practices that effectively support student engagement and success.

The physical, emotional and social wellbeing of students are very well supported through the work of the associated social worker and regular access to specialists including a counselling psychologist, and public health and Plunket nurses.

Students are regularly consulted about many aspects of unit operations. They initiate and lead many shared activities and strongly agree that the director and teachers listen to and act on their ideas.

Reward programmes and celebrations of success are appreciated by students and effective in lifting motivation and engagement.

Students are well supported to set specific and personalised learning goals. Weekly goal-setting and review activities help students to stay focused on what they need to achieve. Students told ERO they appreciate the way teachers follow up with them about their progress, attendance and achievement.

The unit has reviewed and improved the way it supports students to set personal goals using the Te Whare Tapa Whā framework. The next step is to ensure these goals have associated action plans and are regularly reviewed along with learning goals.

Daily routines are purposefully designed to help students maximise their learning in core areas. Teachers have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for mentoring specific students.

Support for transitions to further training or work is improving. The unit has strengthened its transition planning processes, is developing its transition programme, and is building the capability of the unit’s career specialist. Students are supported to explore training and work settings they are interested in.

Relationships with external partners

How well does this TPU work within their educational and community context to promote student outcomes?

This TPU has mostly effective relationships with other educational and community organisations to promote positive student outcomes.

The social worker provides strong links to a wide range of social, health, government and community services. Students have regular access onsite to a range of health and wellbeing specialists.

Students visit local tertiary training providers and participate in training programmes in other education settings.

There is limited communication between the host school and other local secondary schools regarding transitions into the unit, unit activities and outcomes.

3 Recommendations

Leaders and teachers should:

  • expand reporting to the board of trustees – including the outcomes of strategic and planned review

  • clarify processes for making resourcing decisions

  • improve ways of knowing about students’ progress and achievement against their personal and wellbeing goals

  • strengthen communication and collaboration with the attached early learning service to more effectively support positive outcomes for students and their children. 

4 Conclusion

This TPU is effectively promoting and supporting positive outcomes for students. Key practices effectively support student engagement and success. Students benefit from individualised learning programmes that respond well to their interests, strengths, needs and aspirations. Student health and wellbeing needs are also well supported through targeted programmes and regular access to relevant specialists.

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

Dr Lesley Patterson

Deputy Chief Review Officer Southern (Te Waipounamu)

26 June 2017

About the Teen Parent Unit 


Palmerston North

Ministry of Education profile number


Teen Parent Unit roll


Gender composition

Girls: 22

Ethnic composition


Number of students



Review team on site

March 2017

Date of this report

26 June 2017

Most recent ERO reports

Report type

Report date

Special Review

Special Review

Special Review

November 2013

August 2010

August 2006