Circular 2004/01 - Teen Parent Units (TPUs) attached to secondary schools

This circular is about  defining the establishment, management, resourcing, and property provision of Teen Parent Units (TPUs) attached to secondary schools.

Date: 30 January 2004
Circular Number: 2004/01
Category: National Operations

Teen Parent Units (TPUs) attached to secondary schools

This circular is about: The establishment, management, resourcing, and property provision of Teen Parent Units (TPUs) attached to secondary schools. This Circular relates to the establishment, management, resourcing and property provision of Teen Parent Units. The ministry is currently undertaking a review of the Teen Parent Unit policy, which is due to be completed in July 2006. The Minister of Education will not be approving new units pending the outcomes of the review. The Circular still applies for the purpose of management and monitoring of existing units.

The action required is: Note information and various actions required.

It is intended for: Chairpersons of boards of trustees and principals of host schools of TPUs and teachers-in-charge of TPUs.

For further information:

  • Early Childhood Funding Handbook
  • Contact your local Ministry of Education office


Teenage parents have been identified as a category of secondary students who may experience difficulties accessing education and who may be at risk of education failure. These students may be disadvantaged through a lack of prior learning and socio-economic factors as well as parenting obligations.

Teen parents are at high risk of under-participation and under-achievement in education. Without specifically tailored educational support they may drop out of education at a critical time. Factors contributing to this include difficulties in arranging suitable early childhood education (ECE) provision, reluctance to use ECE services, unsupportive school/classroom environments, transport difficulties, financial constraints and time constraints. The loss of education at this point has implications for the future of the students' children as well as the students themselves.

This Circular provides information for schools to assist with and explain the establishment, resourcing, management, and property provision of TPUs.



A TPU is an attached unit in a host secondary school and is established by the school board with the approval of the Minister of Education. A Memorandum of Understanding between the host school board of trustees and the Ministry of Education documents the responsibilities and accountabilities of each party with regard to the TPU.


The board of trustees of the host school is responsible for management including employment, reporting and resourcing for the TPU. Policies and procedures to ensure effective and efficient functioning should be developed, or where appropriate the TPU should be included in other school policies.

The principal of the host school is responsible for the management of the TPU, working in association with the management team. A TPU management team consists of the teacher-in-charge of the TPU and appropriate senior staff of the host school plus representatives of any other relevant organisations approved by the board of trustees.

The teacher-in-charge develops learning and teaching programmes to meet the educational needs of each student and administers the TPU on a daily basis in a manner similar to a head of department.

School type and unique number

TPUs have their own institution type (41) and unique institutional number for ministry data management purposes. This allows for separation between the TPU and its host school for the purposes of roll collection and resourcing entitlement generation, even though all students in the TPU are legally on the roll of the host school and the resourcing is delivered to the host school.

Student Eligibility

TPUs provide for the particular educational needs of students:

  • where verified 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) according to s 3 of the Education Act 1989 ("eligible students").

Students who became parents while teenagers, but who are now no longer eligible for free education (i.e. they have passed the 1st day of January following their 19th birthday) are not eligible to be enrolled in a TPU for enhanced resourcing purposes. These adult students (Returning Adult Student: Refer Appendix 1) may be on the roll of the host school, to which a TPU is attached. They will generate standard secondary school resourcing for adult students. Attendance at the TPU, and conditions under which they can be accommodated, will be at the discretion of the host school and the TPU's Management Committee.

There are times when a student's eligibility may change eg they are no longer the primary caregiver; or their baby dies. In such circumstances it is reasonable for the student to remain on the roll as an eligible student for the remainder of that academic year. As the resourcing is for a full year this will not be affected. It is important that students who have serious barriers to education are not disrupted part way through their year's programme.


When students enrol in a TPU they should complete the usual host school's enrolment form and the TPU supplementary enrolment form. Information that needs to be recorded (if not already on the host school's form) includes:

  • date of first enrolment at this TPU
  • eligibility - copies of student's birth certificate; their child's birth certificate or a signed verification by a medical practitioner of expected delivery date; and a declaration that the student has the primary care responsibility for the child
  • names and ages of child(ren)
  • contacts: midwife/GP; dentist
  • Community Services Customer Number
  • NSI Number
  • types of benefits being received
  • their last year level in a regular school
  • a copy of credits from last school attended.

Enrolment Schemes

If the host school operates an enrolment scheme, the TPU needs to be designated as a special programme within the enrolment scheme. This is to ensure that out of zone applicants for places in the TPU can be dealt with separately from all other out of zone applicants for places at the school. This can be done by way of the minor amendment process provided in Section 11MA of the Education Act. Local ministry staff can advise on the process for amending an enrolment scheme to include reference to a TPU.


Attendance means the physical attendance of a student at the TPU. Attendance must be recorded in a formal attendance register. The ministry's Circular 1997/24: Register of Daily Attendance of All Students details the requirements for marking attendance registers. For absences over 5 days a medical certificate from a registered medical practitioner or a registered counsellor is required and should be kept on file.

The Ministry of Education does not recognise the notion of "Outreach" students. If a student has the appropriate medical certificate the TPU staff and the student may negotiate for work to be continued under supervision at home. This is between the staff and the individual student who cannot be marked as present.

A student aged under 16 must be entered as full-time because a student under 16 cannot be part-time since they are legally required to attend school unless they have an exemption under s21 and s22 of the Education Act 1989. A part-time student is one with fewer than 20 class contact hours per week. Therefore, a full-time student would be one whose class contact hours, i.e. physical attendance at the TPU, are 20 or more per week.

Roll Returns

Secondary schools with attached Teen Parent Units (TPU) will receive supplementary forms from the Ministry of Education for these units in their roll returns packages, in both March and July.

The supplementary TPU forms must be completed and signed by the principal of the host school and must be checked and signed by the teacher in charge of the TPU. The chairperson of the host school board of trustees must also check and sign these forms.

Although Teen Parent Units will be resourced on their maximum rolls the ministry also requires information on actual number of students attending the TPUs to assist in identifying where changes to maximum rolls may be necessary, and for audit and statistical reporting purposes.

Thus students attending TPUs have been categorised into two main types:

  • Eligible and Enrolled Students
    These are students eligible and enrolled in the TPU, within the maximum roll total. This may include both Teen Parent Regular and Teen Parent Regular Adult students.
  • Other Students
    These students may include Teen Parent Regular and Teen Parent Regular Adult students who meet the eligibility criteria but whose enrolment exceeds the maximum roll total. The `Other Students' category also includes any Returning Adult students attending the TPU.

These student types are further categorised and defined in the table in the Appendix. This table gives details of which students to count in which roll return (host school or TPU supplementary). Please read it carefully. It is vital for resourcing purposes that the correct student types are included in each of the questions in the supplementary TPU roll return, AND that the correct student types are included in the host school's roll return. In particular, please note that all students in the `Other' category must be counted not only in parts of the supplementary TPU form, but also in the host school's roll return, in order to generate the appropriate resourcing.

From 2004, SMSs will incorporate the new student type codes as detailed in Appendix 1 of this circular.

Year of Schooling

For roll return purposes students in TPUs should be assigned a Year of Schooling in the same way as for other secondary school students. See Guidelines for Completing Roll Returns page 9 and 10. The Year of Schooling is intended to measure the number of years of schooling a student has received and is not intended to indicate the level of study. Therefore, students aged under 16 (like those aged over 16) who have been away from school for a considerable period of time, should be given the same Year of Schooling as they had when they last attended school. The Learning Zones in the subject data collected on the July return will give an indication of the academic level at which students are studying.

Roll Audit

The primary aim of a roll audit is to verify the accuracy of a school's roll return. Documentation must be retained by the by the host school to support the claim that each student meets the criteria for eligibility to enrol and attend a TPU. (Documentation may physically be kept in the TPU). Circulars 1998/48 Roll Returns: 1 March and 1 July and 2003/01: Alternative Attendance Registers detail the requirements every school must meet in order to provide a clear audit trail.

Maximum Rolls

Each TPU has a maximum roll, negotiated by the ministry with the group or school wishing to establish a TPU, and approved by the Minister of Education. An appropriate initial maximum roll for a unit will depend on: likely sustainability of numbers of eligible student places; judgement around an optimal size for a unit in accordance with best teaching practice; the property available for the unit to occupy; and the availability and accessibility of early childhood service provision.

Where space and other circumstances permit, a host school may choose to enrol eligible or adult students, in excess of the maximum roll, to attend the TPU. These students will be on the host school roll and will generate regular school resourcing. They will not generate TPU resourcing. A school enrolling students above the maximum roll will need to transfer resources to the TPU to support the additional students.

TPUs are resourced on the approved maximum roll. Where a TPU's actual roll is well below its maximum, or the ministry has reason to be concerned about the unit's viability, the unit may be resourced, at least for a time, on its actual, rather than its maximum roll, to reduce the risk of over-resourcing.



Notification of funding entitlements

TPUs receive separately identified formula-based operational funding entitlement notices. The formula produces resourcing levels that are enhanced when compared with regular secondary school resourcing. The enhanced resourcing recognises the particular educational needs of the teenage parents and the small size of the units.

An operational funding instalment notice showing the amount to be paid to the TPU is issued prior to each payment.

The operational funding entitlement and instalment notices are sent to the principal of the host school. Copies of the operational funding entitlement and instalment notices are also sent to the teacher-in-charge of the TPU.

TPUs staffing allocation is shown separately on the host schools staffing entitlement notice. The staffing notice is not copied to the TPU.

Staffing entitlement

The TPU staffing entitlement is generated on a ratio of 1 FTTE for every 10 eligible students up to the unit's approved maximum roll number. One salary unit is also allocated for each full FTTE. Salary units are not allocated for part FTTEs.

The TPU's teachers are employed by the unit's host school and are centrally resourced through the teachers' payroll.

The staffing generated by the TPU maximum rolls is listed in the schedule, "Teen Parent Unit Allowance", in the Education (Secondary School and Form 1 to 7 Staffing) Order.

Principal's salary grade and supplementary grant

The grading roll for the principal of a school with an attached TPU includes the TPU's maximum roll. The combined (host school and TPU) staffing entitlement will be used to calculate the principal's supplementary grant.

Where changes to a TPU's maximum roll or the detachment of a TPU from a particular host school affect a principal's U-grade, the terms of the Secondary Teachers' Collective Agreement relating to "Changes to Base Salary Grading" will apply.

The appropriate grading roll and U-grade will show on the host school's staffing entitlement notice.

Operational Funding

The following funding components, at the identified rate levels, will form the basis of the TPU operational funding allocation. The rates applying recognise the additional educational needs of teen parent students.

  • Base funding @ Activity Centre/Teen Parent Unit rate
  • Per pupil @ Year 11 to Year 15 pupil rate regardless of year of teaching or student age. This is the highest per-pupil funding rate.
  • Relief teacher funding @ secondary schools: rate 2 by number of FTTEs. Funding appears on the operational funding entitlement notice of the host school. It is not separated from the relief teacher funding of the host school.
  • Vandalism @ host school rate
  • TFEA @ Decile 1 A
  • SEG @ Decile 1 plus base rate
  • CIG @ Decile 1
  • HLW - initially estimated for TPU on a per pupil basis - may be reviewed when actual cost data is available.
  • Maintenance (incl Minor Capital Works) - estimate (allocation dependent on property occupied and ownership)
  • STAR - STAR funding is based on STAR funding units. Funding units are calculated by multiplying the roll by a weighted factor. TPUs receive the highest weighting. The formula is fully described in the Funding, Staffing and Allowances Handbook.
  • TFI - if host school is eligible for this component, TPU will be funded @ host school rate.

The Correspondence School

The TPUs are eligible for support from The Correspondence School as extraordinary dual enrolments. Each student may access up to three subjects through The Correspondence School, regardless of whether these subjects are also offered by the TPU's host school. The Correspondence School EFTS are provided according to the following formula:

TPU roll (eligible students)EFTS allocation
Up to 19 9
20 to 24 12
25 to 30 18

The Resourcing Division's Contracts Section advises The Correspondence School of each TPU's entitlement following approval for its establishment and its maximum roll.


Property Provision

Accommodation options

Accommodation for a TPU may be provided by either a host school, as part of the school's total accommodation entitlement, or a different (base) school which has the available capacity, or on leased land.

Accommodation in a host school

The TPU Property needs must be considered as part of the host school's total accommodation entitlement, including availability and suitability of surplus space. Square metres generate capital and maintenance funding and the TPU must be included in the host school's 10-Year Property Plan.

The host school must be able to demonstrate that there is a viable and sustainable roll of eligible students over the next four to five years. A TPU of less than 15 students will only be considered in exceptional circumstances.

Accommodation in a base school or in leased accommodation

In some cases the TPU could be physically sited at another school (base school), or occupy leased accommodation.

If sited at a base school:

  • Memorandum of Understanding: Teen Parent Unit is required to be signed between both the host and base schools. A template is available in ministry's Third Party Occupancy Policy
  • the unit is included in the base school's POD
  • square metres generate capital and maintenance funding
  • the TPU must be included in the base school's 10-Year Property Plan
  • the management of the TPU is the responsibility of the host school
  • If the TPU is in leasehold accommodation:
    • the lease must be agreed to by all parties, including the ministry, prior to signing
    • if an integrated school, the Integration Agreement will require changes
    • the management of the TPU is the responsibility of the host school.

Accessibility to an ECE

A TPU must have easily accessible ECE facilities. Therefore availability and location of suitable ECE facilities must be considered in the planning stage, not as an after thought.

The first option must be to use existing ECE services, through using their capacity and/or improving their capability.

Only where there are no other options will the ministry consider funding the capital cost of a new ECE service. This will be subject to financial viability and capability being proven first and must take into account the impact a new service might have on the viability of existing centres. For ministry funded services, the property solution must be either:

  1. to modify existing school accommodation (first option), or
  2. provide a purpose-built ECE (second option).

A cost benefit analysis should be undertaken - it may be cheaper to provide a combined TPU/ECE Design and Build facility, rather than modifying existing space. The capital cost is charged to the school works programme, as it is caused by the need to establish a TPU.

Need for forward planning

The Ministry needs to know in advance of planned TPUs for capital budgeting purposes and to ensure the ECE solution fits current policy settings.


Early Childhood Education (ECE) Requirements

Note that all ECE services attached to TPUs must be licensed and chartered. The requirements to achieve and maintain licensed and chartered status are set out in the Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998 and the Desirable Objectives and Practices 1998. Information on licensing and chartering is also available from the local office of the Ministry.

ECE Governance and Management

The governance and management of an ECE service provided to support the teen parent unit may not be under the control of either the host school's principal or board of trustees. However it is acceptable for either the TPU or host school to have a representative on the ECE management committee or governing body.

ECE Resourcing

An ECE service attached to a TPU will receive Government resourcing through the early childhood subsidy funding (bulk grant funding). This funding is based on the attendance, as opposed to the enrolment, of the child over a four month period.

In addition to the bulk grant some ECE services are able to apply for Equity Funding.

Information on the funding of ECE services is set out in the Early Childhood Funding Handbook.

It is important to note the early childhood funding is a grant in aid and does not cover all operational costs. The ECE service will need to generate income, to meet the full costs of the operation. Most services generate additional through parental fees, fund raising and grants. TPU ECE services are able to enrol children from the wider community to assist in ensuring the service remains financially viable. However, as the primary focus of these services is to support the TPU, such community enrolments must be treated as conditional enrolments – the enrolment is conditional on a place not being currently required by the child of an enrolling teen parent.


Issued by

Kathy Phillips
Senior Manager National Operations

National Office
45 - 47 Pipitea Street, Thorndon
P O Box 1666, Wellington, New Zealand
Phone: 0-4-463 8000
Fax: 0-4-463 8001

Appendix 1 - Student types for roll returns

Student typeCodeDefinition and descriptionWhere counted
Teen Parent Eligible and Enrolled Regular Student TPRE A regular eligible and enrolled teen parent student must be aged under 19 years at 1 January of the year in which they first enrolled in the Teen Parent Unit (TPU).
These students may continue to be enrolled in the TPU after the end of the year in which they reach age 19. However at the beginning of the new school year following their 19th birthday their student type must be changed to Teen Parent Regular Adult Student - see definition below.
Host school SMS roll return tables will exclude students coded TPRE.
TPU form only
Teen Parent Eligible and Enrolled Regular Adult Student TPRAE A Teen Parent Eligible and Enrolled Regular Adult Student is a regular student whose enrolment in the TPU has continued beyond the end of the year in which the student reached the age of 19 years.
Host school SMS roll return tables will exclude students coded TPRAE
TPU form only
Teen Parent Regular Student over maximum roll TPREOM A Regular student (ie a student aged under 19 years at 1 January of the roll count year) who meets the eligibility criteria, but whose enrolment would cause the roll of the TPU to exceed the set maximum.
Host school SMS roll return tables will include students coded TPREOM along with other regular students on their roll.
Host School Form (for resourcing purposes) and `Other Students' and `Total' tables on TPU form.
Teen Parent Regular Adult Student over maximum roll TPRAOM A Regular Adult Student (ie a student who has continued attending school beyond the end of the year in which she/he reached the age of 19 years) who meets the eligibility criteria but whose enrolment would cause the roll of the TPU to exceed the set maximum.
Host school SMS roll return tables will include students coded TPRAOM along with any other adult students on their roll.
Host School Form (for resourcing purposes) and `Other Students' and `Total' tables on TPU form.
Returning Adult Student attending Teen Parent Unit TPAD A Returning Adult student is a student aged 19 years or over on 1 January of the roll count year who has returned to school following a break of one year or more. If space permits, and where these students meet the other criteria for inclusion, they may attend a TPU.
Host school SMS roll return tables will include students coded TPAD along with any other adult students on their roll.
Host School Form (for resourcing purposes) and `Other Students' and `Total' tables on TPU form.

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