Pupils are exposed to the dangers of the road on a daily basis when they travel to and from school, therefore educating them on road safety is important. Schools are in an advantageous position to teach their pupils about how to be safe on the roads.
Safety education is included in the non-statutory curriculum for PSHE education, and road safety should be taught at both primary and secondary levels.
This guidance document outlines how schools could incorporate road safety messages into their curriculum and the approach schools could take in raising road safety awareness.
Road safety awareness should be promoted by the whole-school community and should be underpinned by a curriculum that educates pupils about how to stay safe on the road. All members of staff should act as role models for their pupils, encouraging safer behaviour by adopting these attitudes themselves.
Schools should ensure that there is staff presence at the entrance to the school at the start and the end of the day. This would help to ensure that pupils enter and leave school safely, whilst also deterring pupils from acting unsafely on the road outside school.
It may not be necessary for schools to have a dedicated road safety policy; however, such policies are encouraged. A Travelling to and from School Safely Policy ensures that there are measures in place which protect pupils from the dangers of the road to the school’s best ability. Other relevant school policies should also make reference to road safety, such as a school’s Health and Safety policy. This, alongside educating pupils about road safety, ensures that schools are doing their upmost to ensure the safety of their pupils on the road.
In order to effectively educate pupils about road safety, schools should assess their specific circumstances. Things to consider include the following:
- Is the school located on a busy road, or in a particularly hazardous location?
- Do pupils have a particularly dangerous route into school that would make them more vulnerable to a road accident?
- What are the most common types of road incidents that occur in the school’s surrounding area?
- Are there any pupils, or someone close to them, that have experienced a road accident who may need to be dealt with sensitively?
The above should be used to cater road safety education to specific school circumstances to make that education is the most effective for pupils.
Whether the school educates pupils of primary or secondary age should also be considered. Whilst road safety is often thought of as being a subject taught to younger pupils, road safety at secondary level is also vital. As pupils get older and begin to travel to school independently, behaviour on the road becomes even more pertinent. Therefore, using a variety of age-appropriate approaches, road safety messages should be taught to pupils of all ages.
Before pupils can be educated in road safety, it is important to assess what they already know and understand about the topic. For younger pupils, in primary school, this could be done by asking them to draw a picture of their journey to school. Looking at these images allows teachers to assess what dangers pupils are perceiving and if they are already aware of any road safety behaviours, e.g. wearing a high visibility jacket. Secondary school pupils could complete an initial questionnaire assessing their prior road safety knowledge. These initial assessments can be used to target certain areas for concern in regards to the road safety curriculum.
Age-appropriate methods of teaching should be employed by schools; however, research has shown that road safety at any level is effective if:
- It is taught in a practical and active way.
- It is part of a whole-school approach.
- It is part of a comprehensive PSHE curriculum.
- It involves pupils making real life decisions to help them stay safe.
- It is based on the needs and concerns of the pupils in the school.
- It is taught in collaboration with external agencies.
- It is positive and rewards safer behaviour.
- It builds on pupils’ prior knowledge.
- It explores the dangers of risk taking on the road, e.g. dangerous driving (this is particularly important to pupils in key stage 4 as some of them may be beginning to think about learning to drive when they reach 17).
There is no superior mode of delivery for road safety education; schools should choose methods that best suit their school. Assemblies offer schools the opportunity to deliver general road safety education, whilst class lessons could focus on discussions between teachers and pupils about more specific aspects of road safety, e.g. issues that are particularly relevant to that group of pupils.
Road safety charity, Brake, recommends that road safety education adopts an ABC approach:
- Choice and campaigning
Pupils should be taught about the dangers of the road, the rules they should follow to stay safe and how making safer choices can prevent road accidents.
Road safety education should not be limited to a school’s PSHE curriculum; subjects like maths, science and geography lessons can also incorporate road safety topics, e.g. stopping distance taught in science lessons can be directly related to road safety.
Time outside of lessons should also be used to reinforce road safety education, e.g. on school trips. Schools could include pupils in the risk assessment process, asking them what they think the road risks will be on the trip and how these can be prevented.
There are a variety of road safety charities and organisations that offer support to schools and these resources should be utilised.
THINK! is the Department for Transport’s dedicated road safety campaign. They offer schools age-appropriate resources that can assist in educating pupils about road safety at both primary and secondary levels.
Road safety charity, Brake, also offers resources and guidance on how schools should teach their pupils about road safety. Brake holds an annual road safety awareness week that promotes road safety awareness in schools and communities. Schools should get involved with these types of awareness campaigns, and possibly run their own local road safety campaigns, to ensure that road safety education is reinforced as much as possible, and in as many areas as possible, in the school community.
Schools should also communicate with their LA and local emergency services in order to ensure that the education that the school offers fits in with the road safety message promoted by the community.
Alongside utilising readily available external resources, schools could invite external organisations to give assemblies or to run workshops so that their pupils can benefit from expert knowledge first-hand.
Brake (N.D.) ‘Introduction to teaching road safety and lesson ideas’, <http://roadsafetyweek.org/schools-colleges/2-uncategorised/69-road-safety-lesson-plans#fourteeneighteen> [Accessed: 17 November 2016]
Emily Drabble (2012) ‘How to teach…road safety’, <https://www.theguardian.com/education/2012/nov/05/road-safety-week-teaching-resources> [Accessed: 17 November 2016]
THINK! Education (2009) ‘Road safety education: A guide for early years settings and schools teaching aged 3-11’
THINK! Education (2010) ‘Road safety education: A guide for secondary schools teaching students aged 11-16’