Becoming a teen parent can interrupt your education and you often have to reassess your options. Find out more in this article on Teen Parent Education Options.

Sometimes young teenage women, and men, have their lives interrupted by pregnancy. This interruption can impact on their education, one of the single most important things to any teenager…even though at the time they may not realize it.

If you’ve found out you’re pregnant or have recently had a child and you’re a teenager, you do have education options. Every New Zealander is entitled to free enrolment and free education at any state school during the period beginning on the person’s fifth birthday and ending on the 1st day of January after that person’s 19th birthday. And being pregnant or having a wee child doesn’t change that. What it may change are your options and where and how your education takes place.

So what are the options for teenage parents?

Young mums and dads have three main options when it comes to continuing their education, and remember that it is not only Mums who are affected by the birth of a baby. Sometimes a dads’ education is interrupted also.

The three main options are:

  1. Continuing to attend the mainstream secondary school you did previously, or another,
  2. Learning via correspondence school, or
  3. Enrolling at a school with a Teen Parents Unit.

Different options suit different people and different situations and there are pros and cons to each of the options.

Continue at a mainstream secondary school

While it may not be the easiest option, this is a choice made by many teen parents. However, there are a great deal of factors to consider if a young parent wants to continue attending a mainstream secondary school.

The school must be prepared to work with the young person/people involved. They need to be first of all open to the idea that this young person is now a student with special educational needs – these needs being those of a young baby or child. They will need to be flexible about attendance and homework and assessment guidelines.

To make this option work, family support will also be of great importance. The teen parent will need time-out to complete homework and assessments and to attend school. There may be the need for the child of the teen parent to be enrolled in childcare of one sort or another. (For more info about child care options visit our ECE section). This then becomes another cost that needs to become a part of the equation.

This option is probably the more difficult of the three. While mainstream schools will not actively discourage young parents from attending school ‘face-to-face’ they may not actively encourage them either. Instead they may suggest that it would be a better option to enroll with the correspondence school.

Pros –

  • Consistency of education
  • Focussed learning
  • A system the teen parent already knows and understands

Cons –

  • The unpredictable nature of young children making attendance difficult
  • Schools may not be flexible enough for the parent of a young one
  • Stigma of being a young parent
  • The cost of child care that would be needed
  • Having to make up for missed time

Te Kura (The Correspondence School)

Enrolling in Te Kura can be a good option for many young parents. This is a popular option for parents who cannot return to their own school or are unable to make child care arrangements.

Secondary schools are obliged to enrol the teen parent with Te Kura and usually do so.

Te Kura enables a teen parent to continue with their education, at their own pace, and in their own place. This means they can organise study around a young one and the extra duties and responsibilities that come with being a parent. In this respect it can also be a better option financially as there is not necessarily a need for child care.

Te Kura also allows the student to arrange a study programme that suits them and what they want to achieve.

Studying at home can have its own problems though. It is not always easy to motivate yourself and a teen parent may lack the discipline it takes to complete studies.

Pros –

  • No need for childcare
  • Study can be slotted around baby’s needs and parental commitments
  • Tutors ‘on tap’ – available on the phone or online as needed
  • The ability to create a learning programme that suits the individual student and his or her needs

Cons –

  • A huge amount of motivation is required
  • It can be a lonely way to learn, especially for a social teenager
  • Work must continue to be completed and submitted to keep a student’s enrolment current
  • Communication skills are very important when learning from a distance
  • Lots of form filling
  • A good study area, separate from distractions is important

For more information about Te Kura click here.

Teen Parent Units

A teen parent unit or TPU is a ‘school’ attached to a school. A TPU 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.

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.

A TPU caters for not only the parent but also the child involved. Programmes are worked around the care of children, usually have a very relaxed informal atmosphere and are very flexible. All TPUs must be situated close to an Early Childhood Education (ECE) Centre that is licensed and chartered. The children of teens attending the TPU will be cared for at the ECE Centre for some of the time to enable parents to focus on studies. The idea being that the ECE Centre is close enough for parents to breastfeed and be available to their children should they need to be.

(For more info on ECE’s and licensed and chartered centres click here).

Teens learn through the Correspondence School, but with ‘hands on’ help from tutors/teachers who are employed to assist them. This means also that individualized learning programmes can be developed to suit each person.

Students’ studies will focus on the essential learning areas according to the New Zealand Curriculum document. These are Health and Physical Education, The Arts, Social Sciences, Technology, Science, Maths, and English.

There also tends to be a strong focus in these centres on the teaching and learning of life and practical skills that complement the academic skills learned by the young parents.

For a more detailed information about how TPUs work and eligibility criteria read our Teen Parent Units article.

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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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Maple Kongdan

Useful information, I have been looking at ways to get people to find out about it. So definitely gonna this out. Thank you


hi im 18 nd have a 4month baby boy…my parents are in a theological
college nd dont really hve time too look after my son while i go back to
school i was wondering if thea is any type og school for young mothers
like me wea i could be a mother and also a student?

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