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Teachers at Education Portal workshop plan to boost student agency


Teachers and health promoters are teaming up to use Education Portal curriculum resources to support students learning about safe active travel.

Participants at the Timaru workshop.

Participants at the Timaru workshop plan how to use Education Portal curriculum resources.

There was a lightbulb moment for Timaru teachers at a recent workshop when they saw the potential for integrating road safety and active travel more deeply into their classroom delivery.

The teachers, from three schools, were planning how they could use curriculum resources available on the NZ Transport Agency’s Education Portal.

The event was organised by WAVE – Wellbeing and Vitality in Education, an education setting-based health promotion programme in South Canterbury. Support for teacher relief time was provided by Timaru District Council – Road Safety.

Health Promoter Jane Sullivan says the three schools are carrying out school travel plans to support more children into active travel such as walking or scooting to school. The plans typically involve promotional activities with enforcement and road engineering measures to address congestion at the school gate.

Jane says young people would also benefit if the important ideas around active travel were explored through teaching programmes.

“The Education Portal excited me because it looks like it makes it easy for teachers to do this. The resources have links to the New Zealand Curriculum, and it has the teaching plans available so they can see where the context of safe, active travel can fit.”

The workshop was in two parts. First, teachers worked with WAVE and Transport Agency staff to explore the curriculum resources and case studies on the Education Portal. Next, they took time to plan how to use these in their own classrooms.

“There was this lightbulb moment for the teachers involved,” says Jane. “It was like ‘oh so we can’t teach road safety just as a two-week unit on its own’.”

“They could see a need to connect with the students across a number of curriculum areas and on an everyday teaching basis. They could see more scope for student investigation and ownership, helping students design solutions to problems around active travel to school.”

Teacher feedback

The teachers were asked how the workshop would change their practice. Here’s what they said:

  • It could help them integrate road safety into the curriculum and everyday activities. This would give children more ownership of their safety around roads.
  • Teachers could present safe walking to students using an inquiry learning process.
  • Students could gain agency, by making their own investigations and designing solutions to problems around active travel to and from school.

WAVE will follow-up with the schools later this year to explore learning outcomes for students.

About WAVE

WAVE team leader Rose Orr says the programme was set up 11 years ago by the South Canterbury District Health Board and Community and Public Health. The vision of WAVE is to support children and young people in South Canterbury to learn well and be well.

“Here in South Canterbury we work with early childhood, primary, secondary and tertiary settings. That’s quite unique. We describe it as an expanded health promoting schools approach.”

“The team works with those education settings to make the healthy choice the easy choice in their environment.”

The team works on school travel plans in order to support physical activity and road safety, which they see as going hand-in-hand. Other focus areas include nutrition, oral health, mental wellbeing, Māori health, sexual health, alcohol and Smokefree.

WAVE South Canterbury(external link) 


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