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New Zealand Transport Agency case studies

These case studies illustrate how three schools have explored road safety aligned with the New Zealand Curriculum and are intended for both primary and junior secondary students (years 9 and 10).

NZTA: Guidelines for assessing road safety education for young people

This document provides schools with useful questions to interrogate the efficacy of road safety education initiatives/interventions and programmes being offered to their school and community.

Onehunga Primary School - Choice lessons in staying safe

Primary students learned the skills to be safe road users in a unit that crossed the curriculum.

Hawera Primary School - Smart planning leads a learning journey

A primary school tied earth science and safe travel together in an inquiry unit that also strengthened its teachers' pedagogical knowledge.

Northcross Intermediate School - Young thinkers tackle road risks

Health lessons get intermediate students thinking about road safety in relation to current events.

Northcross Intermediate - Young thinkers tackle road risks

Northcross students.

A class of year 7 students were to identify and explain risks to road users attending an event when suddenly real events captured their attention.

Right around that time, rugby's big opening night took place, and amid the festivities were stories about closed roads, big crowds, public transport pressures, and drivers breaking road rules.

The Northcross Intermediate School students could spot a juicy topic to investigate, and what would be a worthy lesson at any time took on added colour.

The class was working through a health lesson that teacher Suzanne Hodgins adapted from the the Big Event educational resource, issued by the NZ Transport Agency. Educators Pam Hook and Julie Mills created the flexible units around the key concept that when you travel smart, you travel safe.

In this case, being smart meant reflecting on risks and safe road use. The lessons were a good fit with a New Zealand Curriculum achievement objective to 'identify risks and their causes and describe safe practices to manage these'.

Northcross students.

According to the curriculum, health lessons help students to take increasing responsibility for themselves and to contribute to the well-being of society. It notes intermediate-age children are more socially aware and benefit from authentic learning experiences.

Given that, linking lessons to real-life events may provoke deeper thinking at this critical age, when students grow in competence at managing their own relationship with the world, roading system included.

Suzanne initially got her class to candidly discuss their personal awareness of staying safe when walking; some admitted to crossing roads at unsafe places under peer pressure.

'They could give clear examples of the risks they take out on the road. It hooked them in at the initial stages,' she says.

When examining the rugby opening night, groups identified risk to pedestrians and public transport passengers. They searched through news reports for specific incidents and gathered evidence about possible causes.

Other classes took a similar analytical approach to using the Big Event. Joanne Frith asked her year 7 students to use part-whole maps to analyse road safety, through the function of its parts, ranging from road markings to bicycle lanes. They then wrote an essay to persuade readers what was important.

'It's getting them to really understand the significance of road safety, because they are pre-teens; in three or four years some of them will have a licence,' says Joanne.

As well, using the Big Event let her students reformulate what they understood from a visit by a police education officer.

'This capitalised on what she spoke about, we wanted them to really think about it.'

Bernie McGinley’s year 8 students showed how they used specific analytical techniques to take their thinking further.

“It gave us a deeper insight into our learning,” says Cassidy as she explains her evaluation map, a type of flow-chart presenting evidence for and against her claim that road hazards were caused by both people and the natural environment.

Amara shows a part-whole map in which she looked at consequences if an aspect of safe cycling or driving practice were absent. She says this got her thinking more about the specifics like checking a bicycle's gears.

So how well did Northcross students progress in their learning? That was for them to figure out too by reflecting on their learning.

Suzanne says her students assessed their ability to formulate questions about risks and their causes. They were guided by the learning model SOLO Taxonomy, and she asked them for an explanation of their assessment – with pleasing results.

'They can not only articulate their self-assessment but justify it,' says Suzanne. 'That's what you want to see. You want to see these outcomes where the children are discussing what they have achieved and are able to confidently self-assess their work.'

As the term drew to a close, her class were writing reports to explain the transport issues around opening night, including suggestions for improvement. To add authenticity, she asked them to write the report as if it were for the NZ Transport Agency itself.

'They can zero in on an aspect of the evening in terms of road safety and look at the causes and look at the knock-on effects. They put together their own understanding and show that in the report, and they have to consider who their audience is.'

Meanwhile, two students in Joanne's class agree that after the lessons they are thinking more about their own safety when out on the streets. If their thinking skills stick, that should continue.

Published on: 01 Nov 2011