Education can take a back foot when a teen becomes a parent. Teen Parent Units are schools for young mums and dads.

What is a Teen Parent Unit?

A teen parent unit, or TPU, is a ‘young parents school’ usually attached to a regular school. It is a centre that teen parents attend when they are having difficulty accessing education and may be at risk of educational failure because they are parents. This means it may be too difficult for them to attend a mainstream, or face-to-face school, because of their duties as a parent.

In brief, a TPU is a school that teenagers attend to further their education if they cannot attend a mainstream school because of parental responsibilities.

How does it work?

A TPU is basically a ‘school within a school’. What this means is that they exist as part of a mainstream secondary school but are run independently of that school.

In terms of the management and overseeing of the TPU, the mainstream or normal school becomes the ‘host school’. The Board of Trustees of the ‘host school’ is also responsible for the TPU including the employment of staff, reporting and providing resources for the TPU. The Principal of the ‘host school’ is responsible for the management of the TPU.

There is a teacher in charge appointed to a TPU who develops learning and teaching programmes that meet the needs of the teen parents who attend the unit.

As far as the teaching and learning go, TPUs offer students an informal environment within which they can complete studies. The units provide learning programmes to students through a range of education providers including TPU teachers, host school teachers, The Correspondence School, polytechnics, and the STAR (Secondary Tertiary Alignment Resource) scheme.

Students in TPUs have a wide range of learning and personal support needs. Some students need assistance to develop basic literacy and numeracy skills, while others need more advanced individual programmes. Teen parents’ education consists of a combination of academic life and practical skills — all designed to enable them to make a better future for themselves and their children.

TPUs provide tutors and teachers for the teaching and learning of academic courses. Students are often required to take pre-tests and, once they have completed their studies at the unit, a post-test in order to measure their progress. They are encouraged to take responsibility for their own learning and the learning of others by setting goals and keeping logs of daily activities. Together with a teacher the student develops an Individual Education Plan (IEP) for themselves, which details educational goals and a plan for how to attain them.

The creation of programmes at TPUs is guided by The New Zealand Education Curriculum document, from the Ministry of Education.

TPUs work in a flexible manner, which is the way parents need to work when young children are involved. They also work alongside many community groups and support agencies to provide all support possible for the young parents who attend the centre. It may be that they have budgeting, health, self-defense, or legal needs and they may not know how to access help or support.


The expectation is that students attend TPUs on a full-time basis. Students under 16 years of age are legally required to attend a unit full-time. Full-time enrolment is a minimum of 20 contact class hours per week. A medical certificate is required for absences of more than five days.

Who looks after the children?

One of the specifications for setting up a TPU as set down by The Ministry of Education is that they are located as close as possible to a licensed and chartered Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centre. (For more info on this click here). This is so young parents are able to focus and work on their education knowing that their children are close to hand so that they can continue to breastfeed and care for their children in the manner they wish.

Who is eligible to attend a TPU?

TPUs provide for particular educational needs of students –

  • where barriers to learning in a mainstream situation have resulted from pregnancy and child rearing responsibilities (of their own children); and
  • who have enrolled in the TPU within the age range to receive free education (i.e. up to 1 January following their 19th birthday)

To be eligible the teen parent must also be the primary caregiver of the child.

There are cases where eligibility may change, for example where primary care responsibility changes or the child dies. In these cases the student’s eligibility will continue for the year in which he or she was enrolled.

If you do enroll in a TPU you will first need to enroll with the host school. There will be several bits of information and documents you’ll need to provide:

  • date of first enrolment at the TPU
  • eligibility – copies of your own birth certificate and those of your child/children or a signed verification from a medical practitioner of expected delivery date and a declaration that you are the primary care giver
  • names and ages of children
  • contact details of GP
  • Community Services Customer Number
  • Details of types of benefits being received
  • The date you last attended a mainstream school
  • A copy of the last credits you achieved at school

For more detailed info the best option is for you to visit your local school.

What are other educational options for teen parents?

Teen parents do have other education options. These include attending the local mainstream secondary school or completing study via The Correspondence School.

For more information about these options, including the pros and cons of each, read our Teen Parent Education Options article.

Where are there TPUs?

The Ministry of Education currently funds 17 TPUs throughout New Zealand, 15 in the North Island and 2 in the South.

Here is a list of the units and the host schools they are attached to –

Teen Parent Unit

Host School


He Mataariki School for Teen Parents Kamo High School Whangarei
Eden Campus Teen Parent School Auckland Girls Grammar School Mt Eden, Auckland
Tangaroa TPU Tangaroa College East Tamaki, Auckland
Clendon TPU James Cook High School Manurewa, Auckland
Fraser High School TPU Hamilton’s Fraser High School Hamilton
Te Whakatupuranga School for Young Parents Otumoetai College Tauranga
Kawerau Teen Parent Education Centre Kawerau College Kawerau, Eastern BOP
Rotorua School for Young Parents Rotorua Girls’ High School Rotorua
Te Whare Whai Hua Lytton High School Gisborne
Hawkes Bay School for Teenage Parents William Colenso College Napier
Second Chance Education Stratford High School Stratford, Central Taranaki
Whakatipuria Teen Parent Unit Freyberg High School Palmerston North
Wairarapa TPU Makoura College Masterton, Wairarapa
Titiro Whakamua Heretaunga College Upper Hutt
He Huarahi Tamariki Wellington East Girls’ College Tawa, Wellington
Karanga Mai Young Parents College Kaiapoi High School Kaiapoi, North Canterbury
Kimihia Parent’s College Linwood College Christchurch

Related Website

Website of the Association of Teen Parent Educators of New Zealand (ATPENZ), which includes contact details for each TPU.

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Kylie Valentine is a qualified secondary school teacher, trained journalist, and the mum of two fabulous children.

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I turn 23 in a couple weeks and have been out of school since i was age 14 due to having a baby i had another when i was 18. im now really down about my poor education i have problems with english and maths and alot of other things. I want to be able to better my learnig so im able to help my little ones learn. Am i able to still get help with education?

Rochelle Gribble

Hi there – good on you for thinking about getting back into education. You’re too old for a teen parent unit but they may be able to suggest some suitable paths for you. There are lots of places around where people can start from where they are 🙂 Good luck with this!

Sandy Good

Hi, can you tell me if the students have to attend parenting classes as well? I have undertaken a training programme, based on the Pikler method of gentle and respectful parenting and am keen to offer my services to new parents. In particular teenage parents. I am a trained primary teacher who had a former life as a nurse. I have 6 of my own children and 6 grandchildren.

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Sandy, the best thing to do would be to contact your local TPU. You can find them here: Good luck!


Hi there I am an Early childhood teacher, just inquiring about a support system that educates teen parents to learn about child development, teaches respect and helps them become the best parent they can be. Is there a program like this in South Auckland?

Sally @ Kiwi Families

Hi Laraine, here is some information from our Facebook friends about possible programmes for you to check out: – hope you find what you’re after.


what is the ages of the teenage mothers that attend TPU

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Jamie,

The ages vary but the schools typically take students up to 18 or 19.



Alena Ladeda

I attended eden campus and was one of the first students to attend. I will never forget the opportunities now granted to me as I was given another chance to obtain the qualifications I took for granted

Marama Reiri

Hi there I am 19 so I can’t enroll at Kimihia I’ve got 1 child and I really want to finish my NCEA what other options do I have?

Rochelle Gribble

HI Marama,

Depending on what you want to study, you may be better to take a bridging course at a tertiary provider. They often have care facilities for children as well. Good luck with your future studies!


Marama Reiri

Hi there I am 19 so I can’t enroll at Kimihia I’ve got 1 child and I really want to finish my NCEA what other options do I have?

John Tindall

What fees are payable by the students ?

Rochelle Gribble

Hi John,

This varies between units so you’d be best to contact your local unit directly.

Kind regards,



Hi – I am a secondary school teacher who would like to work in a TPU. I see that the teachers required for these schools are ‘TPU trained’. Can you tell me how one becomes TPU trained please? What courses are there? I am mid-PostGradDip Education, and have two more papers to do … are there any specific papers I should take to help me to be successful in being appointed to a TPU?

Rochelle @ Kiwi Families

Hi ChchTeacher,

I’m afraid I don’t know anything about TPU training – the best thing to do would be to contact your local TPU – and they should be able to help you out.

Good luck!


Cynthia Smylie

Hey I was just wondering if you can do Correspondence their ? Also I was wondering if your babies go in a daycare thing next to where we would do our work ? Thanks

Cynthia Smylie

Hey I was just wondering if their is a daycare thing next to where the students do their school work ? Also I was wondering if you can do your Correspondence their too ? Thanks

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Cynthia,

The units all vary but most have daycare attached. Although the units are staffed by teachers, many also offer correspondence courses as well. The best thing to do is to contact the unit that you would like to study with.

Good luck!



im 19 btw


hi there im wanting to do my education but ive got two kids 🙂 do u have any schools in auckland

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Montana,

There’s a list of teen parents units here: so that you can find one near you. You may be too old for a TPU but they should be able to help you find something. Otherwise, WINZ should be able to help find a suitable course.




I myself was blessed with the help of TPU. Both my partner and I attended the teen parent unit. They help us both gain our license as well as helped me pass my NCEA Levels. They helped my friends find finacial support as well as housing. I owe alot to the TPU and the support they have. I recommend it to all teenage parents who choose to continue in school.

Rochelle Gribble

Thanks for that Nagemngatai72- what a lovely recommendation!

chrissie williams

is this for both young new parents, or just for the mums

Rochelle Gribble

Hi Chrissie,

It varies between units but many accept both parents. 



Jayne Watt

I cannot believe only one person likes this or agrees with this support.
Jayne Watt studying at Canterbury University but grew up with poor education opportunities  

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