Teen Parent Schools in New Zealand

ATPENZ

He Wero o nga Wahine

 

It Started with a Vision

The Vision for He Wero O Ngaa Wahine was born out of frustration felt by pregnant teenagers who wanted to continue their education but no state facility was available. A site was rented at the Henderson Baptist Church, with Henderson High and a coordinator employed and the school started through community fundraising efforts.

As funding was not available for Early Childhood Education, the school was run with the babies in the classroom. This was both rewarding and difficult as relationships with the babies was supported, but completing work tasks with constant distraction was extremely hard.

 

Growing Up

In 2008 the Ministry of Education picked up the responsibility for the funding of He Wero O Nga Wahine and planned to build a facility on Henderson High School site. In 2009 an increasing role demanded we move to temporary rented premises. This warm house provided a larger healthy environment for our babies.

With more students we were able to establish a Playgroup, whereby the mothers took turns caring for the babies so half the group could have uninterrupted study time. This improved the learning outcomes for the students and raised the level of expertise of the mothers in entertaining groups of babies.

 

Purpose-built Facilities

Finally in July 2011 we moved into purpose-built facilities on the back of Henderson High School. Our separate entrance leads to a beautiful Early Learning Centre, run by Barnardos, where babies are cared for while mothers are able to do full-time study. Being so close to the children enables the mothers to spend time with their children during breaks and if the child needs the mother for reassurance or breast feeding.

 

Dads’ Programme

In 2009 a Teen Dad’s programme was trialled in our community. We felt it was vital to support both teen mothers and fathers and this programme has provided support for the fathers of our babies (and others in the community) whether they are fully involved with their child or not.  The feedback through the mothers was helpful in the development of the programme.

 

Looking into the Future

Now that we are on-site at a secondary school our students are able to attend specialist classes within the school. Core subjects such as English, Maths, Computing and Employment Skills are taught within the Unit. We aim for all our students to leave with at least NCEA Level 2. Life Skill programmes that strengthen self-esteem, parenting skills, budgeting, barista and road safety are available. We support our pregnant students to attend teen focused antenatal classes run in our community.

 

There is enormous benefit to mixing daily with other people in similar circumstance and sharing the highs and lows of teen parenting and we welcome any young parent under 18 to take the opportunity to complete their secondary education.

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