Most children in this age range have a better understanding of death and injury than you may think. With sensitivity, it’s important to develop children’s knowledge and engagement with the concepts of hazards (things that are dangerous); risk-taking (things you do that expose you to danger); and the consequences of risk-taking (death and injury).
The ideas below are designed to precede practical roadside training and activities to improve road safety around your school as part of your School Travel Plan. Read and implement these ideas alongside the ideas and resources available from other agencies, such as the Think! education site for teachers and pupils.
Hands-up survey for pupils
You can use a hands-up survey such as this one we conducted for Road Safety Week in 2012 to help you run a road safety lesson, using the discussion points on the survey and the results you get. You can also plan to do it annually and log the results you get to help you track the effectiveness of your school travel plan.
Run a lesson using the discussion points below:
- Let’s start with the basics. Who can tell me how to cross a road safely?
- Do we actually do this? Has anyone run across a road, crossed somewhere dangerous, or even been pushed into the road by someone else? Let’s share our stories. Why did you do it? (Answers are likely to include in a rush, had to get over the road, not thinking or because it was exciting.) How did it make you feel?
- What happens to children on foot and bicycles who are hit by a car or even bigger vehicle, such as a lorry? (Answers are likely to include death, and various injuries.) If someone is very seriously injured, how could it affect their life (eg. may mean they have to use a wheel chair and can never walk again)? If you could never walk again how would it affect your life? (Answers likely to include couldn’t play football, couldn’t dance.)
- How do drivers break the rules and endanger life? (Answers are likely to include they drive too fast, they run over people, but may also include they drink alcohol ,and drive or other rule-breaking.)
- If you are trying to cross the road, and you see a car far away, can you tell how quickly it will get to where you are standing? No, because it might be breaking speed limits.
- What would happen to you if you were hit at 20mph? 30mph? 40mph? If a car hits someone at 20mph, that person will almost definitely live. But if a car hits someone at 40mph, that person will almost definitely die. So the faster traffic is, the more dangerous.
- Does anyone know the speed limit outside our school? Do we think drivers stick to that limit? Can anyone tell me any of the signs or road markings outside our school that remind drivers the school is here, and they should drive carefully?
- We are going to spend some time helping parents and other drivers to understand the importance of driving slowly around our school. Has anyone got ideas about how we could do that? (Answers are likely to include posters, letters to parents, talking to our parents).
Write or read stories and write and perform plays
Write a story or play script about someone being hurt in a crash. What happened? Why? Alternatively, there are numerous theatre in education companies who can perform in your school. Sometimes, this can be funded by your local council. Contact your local council and ask to speak to the road safety officer to find out local providers and any costs. Read Jacqueline Wilson’s wonderful book Vicky Angel in instalments. It’s about a girl who sees her best friend killed on the road. Talk about the messages in the book. Or read The Lollipop Man by Philip Sheppard, about the ‘superhero of the highway’. Go to www.lollipopman.co.uk for info.
Be ambassadors for road safety!
Get children to write poems or songs on road safety for Key Stage 1 children, to help teach the younger children basic road safety lessons. Get the older children to perform them in front of the younger children. By doing this, you will be helping the older children reaffirm the importance of the messages. Use this as an opportunity to tell the older children to look out for younger children. Do you have a younger sister or brother? It’s really important for your parents or you to always hold their hand, keep them away from roads, and help teach them how to cross safely. In Scotland, an official Junior Road Safety Officer scheme has been set up. In primary schools, two 10-year-old children are appointed to help their local authority road safety officer to educate other children about the importance of road safety. Even if you aren’t in Scotland, you can still adopt this idea of having road safety prefects. Find more information.
Getting messages across to parents
Write, paint, draw, or design on a computer road safety adverts for parents about the importance of driving slowly and safely when kids are about. Make a road safety display in your reception area for parents using these adverts.
Study road safety in maths and science
How many people die and are hurt on roads? In numeracy, you could work out how many classrooms are killed and injured each year. How many children are killed or injured every minute? You can find statistics that relate to the theme of Road Safety Week at www.roadsafetyweek.org.uk page or other facts and figures on different road safety topics, including the maths of speed, on ‘the facts’ page of the Brake website.