Newsletters – school community partnerships

Read examples of how schools have worked with partner agencies to provide students with learning experiences and environments that increase access to safe school travel. These are highlights from the NZ Transport Agency newsletter to schools.

Students reflect on revamped street

Students explore bridge proposal

The great Khandallah subway project

Look out, zebra crossing

Culture shift empowers school boards

Action in the capital

Strengthening partnerships in Auckland

Three schools, one travel plan

Partnerships in Tauranga


Students reflect on revamped street

Student work‘Now it is safer and brighter,’ wrote a student after New Plymouth District Council redeveloped a cul-de-sac leading to West End School.

The footpath along Davies Lane was widened. Trees, gardens and seating were added and artistic poles installed to add character to the school entrance. Traffic is now lighter.

The work is part of the council’s Let’s Go initiative to make walking and cycling easy transport choices. This model community project is part-funded by the NZ Transport Agency, alongside another project in Hastings.

West End students and residents worked with the design team to create the people-friendly street design. Students later wrote to the council about the changes.

A student said there are now fewer cars driving up the street to drop off students, while the footpath is a safe place to walk or scoot.

‘It feels safer every time I go up … the plants in the middle of the path stop the people going too fast and the seats do the same.’

District council sustainable transport coordinator Nathaniel Benefield says more families walk to school after the changes.

‘The result is a street that floods with kids and their parents walking to and from school each day. Gone for good is the unpleasant and unsafe crush of cars that formerly filled this cul-de-sac at peak times.’

For parents who need to make a car trip, suggested park-and-walk areas away from the school allow their children to join with the others walking or riding along Davies Lane to West End School.

(From newsletter 12, 2013) Back to top


Students explore bridge proposal

Waterlea students.Water slides or a lava-flow shape could feature on a new crossing of the Manukau Harbour in Auckland, if proposals by primary school student get the go-ahead.

Students from three schools were consulted by the NZ Transport Agency as it plans a replacement for the old Mangere Bridge, a well-used pedestrian and cycle crossing between the suburbs of Onehunga and Mangere Bridge.

NZTA staff visited Waterlea Primary School, Onehunga Primary School and Mangere Bridge School.

Project staff told students about the history of the bridge and stirred their imagination with a slideshow, entitled ‘Awesome bridges from around the world’.

Educator Pam Hook challenged students to come up with questions for the old bridge, as if they were to interview it, and asked them to write and draw designs for a replacement.

Suggestions made by students at the three schools included viewing areas, rubbish bins, security cameras and seating areas where friends could hang out. They suggested the bridge could be the site for markets, fishing competitions and bicycle races.

Some ideas were highly imaginative, such as an underwater tunnel for viewing fish and a prototype tube of fast-moving air, with an explanatory note that this would let people ‘get shot into Onehunga rather than walking’.

Student voice in the curriculum

Waterlea deputy principals Penny Jensen and Andrea Jamieson said the consultation builds on the students’ prior learning about bridges from lessons held last year, while aligning with other important outcomes.

‘In the curriculum there’s a big focus on student voice and we decided to include that in everything we do. Knowing that people listen is an important learning experience,’ said Penny.

Andrea says that children have to be involved in local projects if a thriving local community is to be sustained.

(From newsletter 11, 2012) Back to top


The great Khandallah subway project

The subwayLast year, our school did some surveys about travel and got some startling results! Over 68 percent of the children were coming to school in their car! We had congested roads and it was quite unsafe.

Room 14 with our deputy principal decided to do something. After doing a large map exercise we realised there was a subway underpass quite close to our school. We went to visit it and it was Absolutely, Positively Disgusting! No one used it because it was dark, smelly and scary.

We decided to upgrade the subway, which would make it easier for students to walk to school without crossing the road. We watched YouTube videos about changing behaviour through fun – like having piano sounds on steps and a rubbish bin with a very long drop.

As a class we decided to take our ideas to upgrade the subway to Wellington City Council. We created a Prezi about how this upgrade would benefit the whole community. We had to go to the Wellington City Council chambers and felt really important!

The council gave us the money to do the project and we were so excited! We worked with some local artists on a mural about different ways of getting to school such as on an elephant, air balloon or rickshaw. We created our own 3D houses to go on the hills.

The subway now has lights and looks amazing. The great thing is that students use it to get to school.

We will always remember doing the subway project and making a change for the Khandallah community.

By Matthew, Sarah and Shya

(From newsletter 10, 2012) Back to top


Look out, zebra crossing

Drivers in the Tasman and Nelson districts could have been forgiven for thinking a herd of zebras had escaped from the zoo after a special campaign to remind them to look out for children on the road.

The Black and White campaign featured two costumed zebras, cutout zebra figures and balloon zebras joining students crossing the road at zebra crossings at the start of the new school term.

Radio advertising supported the campaign with the theme ‘It really is as simple as black and white – speed kills – reduce your speed around schools.’

Road Safety Coordinator for the Tasman District Council Krista Hobday says the campaign was a reminder to drivers to help keep journeys safe for all school children.

Children and their families were also reminded of the importance of using zebra crossings and how to use them safely.

‘The schools thought it was a great way to highlight the crossings to drivers, and families and students thought it was a fun way to start or finish the school day,’ says Krista.

‘There was also a good response from drivers, with many waving to the children as they crossed the road and a few even beeped their horns!’

(From newsletter 6, 2012) Back to top


Culture shift empowers school boards

School travel planning has been handed over to individual school boards of trustees in Christchurch in a move designed to embed the process in the culture of the school.

After evaluating its school travel plan programme last year, Christchurch City Council decided to give oversight of both the development and implementation phases to individual boards of trustees.

‘Council staff still provide assistance to schools but don’t exercise control over the process, as was a tendency in the past,’ says Road Safety Coordinator Joy Kingsbury-Aitken.

‘We found that effective school travel planning needed to be embedded into the culture of the school, with a high level of teacher support. Parents told us they have limited opportunities to influence the travel behaviour of one another, whereas the teachers of their children can inspire their pupils to discover the benefits of safe, sustainable travel.’

The council encourages schools to use the school travel plan guide available from the NZ Transport Agency:

(From newsletter 6, 2012)Back to top


Action in the capital

Painting murals, learning cycle skills, mapping routes, wearing decorated shoes to school – Wellington students have a wide range of learning experiences that explore safe ways to get to school.

In total, 48 schools in the Wellington region have or are developing a school travel plan. That’s over 16,000 students. Support comes from city or district councils, which in turn tap into the expertise of staff at Greater Wellington Regional Council.

School travel plans are a tool for school communities to promote safe, active travel choices.

A working party leads the process for each school, says regional programme coordinator Sam Winslow.

‘If it’s well-facilitated, this can generate a plan that has wide coverage of community involvement, and environmental improvements for the students. It’s important to have everyone involved, and our councils do a fantastic job of this.’

Results include a council using data to inform road engineering plans, schools starting walking school buses and a class of primary students is currently investigating the issue of speed on a local street.

‘There will be considerable variety in the actions taken, but the outcome we’re hoping for is that school travel is safe, pleasant and enjoyable so the young person can get all the associated benefits,’ says Sam.

(From newsletter 5, 2011) Back to top


Strengthening partnerships in Auckland

Students at Waterlea School, Mangere Bridge, who tried to solve local traffic congestion still remember the experience two years later. Their principal Margaret Palmer told Auckland Transport staff how well-designed activities for students make their learning last.

The message came during an NZTA workshop for road safety and school transport coordinators. The workshop was led by educators Pam Hook and Julie Mills, using The Big Event resources they designed, to illustrate how school community partnerships can support teachers using curriculum resources.

The Big Event resources examine travel through the lens of every curriculum learning area and are crammed with learning experiences and ‘what if’ questions to provoke creative thinking.

Julie Mills says The Big Event resources can differentiate learning around an engaging topic like travel, while SOLO supports quality feedback – one recognised way to activate student learning.

Jacki Dawson, Auckland Transport’s community transport leader for the north, says making smart use of a whole-school approach is likely to see increased collaboration between schools and partner organisations like councils and the police.

Claire Dixon leads Auckland Transport’s South Team and says coordinators will continue to build good working relationships with lead teachers and senior management to see how they can support students to learn about safe school travel. She says it’s easier for parents to support school initiatives when children ‘talk the talk’.

(From newsletter 4, 2011) Back to top


Three schools, one travel plan

Students with the travel plan.Dunedin North Intermediate School, Sacred Heart Primary School and North East Valley Normal School recently launched a joint travel plan to address common neighbourhood issues.

A school travel plan is a blueprint for change that includes the whole school community in agreeing on actions specific to the school’s situation.

Dunedin City Council is a key partner with community groups and agencies.

Students participated through a road safety council, says council officer Charlotte Flaherty. They responded to survey results showing classmates wanted to cycle to school but were not encouraged to do so.

‘Parents were worried about traffic speed and volume. So the student road safety council put together a presentation about cycle safety to show parents that they had learned how to be safe.’

Charlotte says the travel plan process gave residents a voice too. As a result, submissions to council are up, and it is responding.

‘Out of the school travel plan has come a pedestrian review of the road, which Dunedin City Council is undertaking.’

(From newsletter 3, 2011) Back to top


Partnerships in Tauranga

Tauranga City Council’s Travel Safe programme goes hand in hand with the NZ Transport Agency’s teaching resources and Travel Safe community-developed resources. Better student learning is the outcome.

Right from the start, everyone is involved. Teachers, students, parents and volunteers are the backbone of the programme and make collective decisions.

‘Our programmes are a form of community development and injury prevention. The students develop everything alongside us from the beginning,’ says Karen Smith from the council.

Students are encouraged to solve problems for themselves, says Angela Joyes, Travel Safe Coordinator.

‘They get the opportunity when learning about walking school buses and cycle safety. Senior primary students attend council workshops so they have the leadership skills to run Feet First programmes. You’ll be sure to see the key competencies in action at these schools.’

(From newsletter 1, 2011) Back to top