Joanna Mitchell does not think she would have continued with education if it was not for Whangarei's teen parent school.

She was 17 when she fell pregnant in 2013, had a handful of NCEA level 1 credits and was a "high school dropout". So she enrolled at He Matariki School for Teen Parents in Whangarei.

"I was having a kid, I had no qualifications, I was a high school dropout. It would have been hard for me to get into the work force, or even carrying on further studies,'' she said.

"Without this school I don't think I would have carried on with education, to be honest."


The school has been placed on a three-year Education Review Office cycle which is given to schools where the curriculum is effective in promoting student learning, engagement, progress and achievement.

The positive report acknowledged the high-quality education at He Matariki that prepares students for future study and career pathways; and said the personalised learning programmes met students' needs and aspirations.

Ms Mitchell is an example of one of the school's past students who is doing well.

During her two years at He Matariki she had a baby girl named Aylah and gained NCEA level 1, 2 and 3 and University Entrance.

Now aged 21, Ms Mitchell is on her way to achieving a national certificate in early childhood education via correspondence from Open Polytech, and is in the process of enrolling in the bachelor's degree programme.

Because of He Matariki's memorandum of understanding with Open Polytech she is able to study without paying fees. This is offered to the students, graduates, and their partners.

"He Matariki helped me get on the track I wanted to get on to be able to succeed as an early childhood teacher."

Terri Cunningham, He Matariki School for Teen Parents manager, was "delighted" after reading the ERO report.

"I think it's a great thing for Whangarei. It's a great resource in the community and it recognises the quality of what's happening."

Ms Cunningham said the personalised learning programmes, mentioned in the report, were a point of difference from other secondary schools and a major part of student success.

"All [students] have different schooling experiences and diverse needs. I look at their record of achievement to date, identify any gaps in learning and find out about their interests and aspirations."