Newsletters – secondary curriculum


Read stories of how secondary teachers use road safety as a curriculum context in their learning area. These examples are extracts from the NZ Transport Agency newsletter to schools. 

Read the digital technologies case study.Read the English case study.Digital technologies mapping crash data    English creative and critical learning

Read the maths case study.Read the geography case study.Maths relevant contexts                                 Geography designing infographics

Read the English case study.Read about media studies and health and PE.English analysing adverts                               Health, Media Studies two resources

Read the statistics case study.Read the science case study.Statistics using the enquiry cycle                  Science forces and crash avoidance

Read the visual arts case study.Read about English resources.Visual arts poster design                                English Read about curriculum resources

Digital technologies: Data visualisation

Year 13 students at St Bede’s College, Christchurch ran investigations into road accidents using data from a publically available source, the NZ Transport Agency’s Crash Analysis System.

Example of student work, road safety and digital technologies.Teacher Gerard MacManus gave them a brief to create a story about relationships found within the information.

“I tried to keep it as open as possible. Students saw the opportunity and the challenge that using this data was giving them.”

Topics included the relationship between weather and accidents, the influence of drugs and alcohol, and crashes involving animals.

“Until you start seeing where the crashes are and whether there’s been alcohol or inexperienced drivers involved you may not understand what the causes are. You need to drill down into the data,” says Gerard. Gerard moved to Hobsonville Point Secondary School in 2015.

What students did

  • Used Excel to examine the data, choose a line of inquiry and clean up incomplete records
  • Put the data into MySQL open source database and ran queries
  • Used the Linz coordinate converter to reformat location data 
  • Created data visualisations in CartoDB
  • Wrote a summary of what they found out

Gerard’s unit was of his own devising. Download other digital technologies resources for year 9-10 and NCEA Level 1.

(From newsletter 23, February 2015) Back to top 

English: Creative and critical learning

Aotea College year 9 students studied road safety ad campaigns, then wrote persuasive letters about safety around the school gate. Teacher Avalon Retter gave the letters to the school trustees and the principal who used them in a meeting with the Porirua mayor.

Students mapped out their routes to the college.Avalon adapted the resource Safer roads: how can adverts make us think ‘people’, not ‘cars’? This gets students thinking about how road safety advertisements make an impact, before they use that learning to feed into their own actions towards safer journeys. Student engagement was evident at Aotea College:

  • "I enjoyed doing the persuasive letter because we could change and help improve our roads.”
  • “I enjoyed writing the persuasive letter and coming up with things to improve society.”

The year 9 students discussed and wrote about congestion at the school entrance, says Avalon. She gave them a challenge.

“I asked them what they are going to do about it. We’ve got all these problems we’ve have identified. How could we as year 9 students at Aotea College attempt to make a difference?”

The letters were the result.

(From newsletter 23, February 2015) Back to top

Maths: adding relevance to concepts

Bev Sue-Tang, head of mathematics at Kaiapoi High School, says integrating community mindedness with everyday maths problems is simply a no-brainer.

Maths and road safety“I think it’s very important and like to include useful information like road safety data when I am teaching the maths curriculum to give relevance to a maths concept,” says Bev.

Maths teachers at Kaiapoi High School have used road safety scenarios in problem solving assignments for students. One scenario was using maths to determine how far away from an object you need to be at a particular speed to slow your car down in time to avoid a collision.

“The road code is one thing all New Zealander can agree on as vital to everyone’s safety. It’s important that students have an opportunity to see why the rules exist by investigating data themselves,” she says.

Teachers are also making use of traffic webcams in Christchurch, which can help students determine, in real time, measurable problems that can be illustrated without leaving the classroom.

“We will look at traffic movements and density using the traffic webcams. These are great as it allows us to take a virtual field trip and we don’t have to sit on the side of the road breathing petrol fumes while counting cars.”

(From newsletter 20, July 2014) Back to top

Geography: making infographic posters

Student infographic, WEGCWellington East Girls’ College students created posters to highlight research into safe school travel.

The year 10 students took geography as an option. The designs used infographics to distil and visually present their key findings.

Social Sciences teacher Anna Wilson says students used a social inquiry approach to look at road safety around the college. They formulated questions, gathered information and shared findings with transport planners at Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Groups chose their own focus such as restricted licences, bus passenger safety and road design. They visited sites, took photos and ran surveys.

‘The students really enjoyed making an infographic, because they hadn’t done that before. It’s a popular format they see in posters and magazines.’.

Support from teachers included arranging a workshop to get up to speed on relevant software.

(From newsletter 13, May 2013) Back to top

English students analyse advertising

Braden Faavae, a secondary English teacher, adapted NZTA curriculum resources to add depth to study of advertising.

English road safety curriculum resource.Braden is a learning advisor for English at Christchurch secondary school Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti.

Braden helped year 11 and year 13 classes analyse road safety advertising as examples of visual texts. He used the NZ Transport Agency NCEA resource Party in the Car as a starting point for planning his unit.

 ‘It’s given a greater sense of purpose about what we’re doing.’

Braden showed students examples from leading road safety campaigns here and overseas, to demonstrate textual elements which are designed to generate change.

Analysing these examples helped students think critically about advertising in general because the same techniques are used to promote sales of everyday products like soft drink.

The classes created their own concepts for road safety campaigns. Their brief was to focus on risk factors that young drivers are less aware of, such as night driving and getting distracted by passengers.

(From newsletter 13, May 2013) Back to top

Health and Media Studies resources

Health and PE, NCEA Level 2

Achievement standard: 91237, Take action to enhance an aspect of people’s well-being within the school or wider community.

Writer: Lawrie Stewart, Health and PE specialist

What Lawrie says: In this assessment task, students will think globally about a safe transport system and act locally on one component. By implementing and evaluating a plan to create safer journeys, students will enhance the well-being of people in their community. The task provides teachers with a clearly defined planning process for students to identify goals, overcome barriers and boost enablers, and evaluate the result.


Media Studies, NCEA Level 2

Achievement Standard: 91250, Demonstrate understanding of representation in the media.

Writer: Diane Henjyoji , in charge of Media Studies at Wellington Girls College

What Diane says: This resource is about representation in the media and about how young people or Māori or other demographics are represented in media texts. With guidance, students at this age can be quite perceptive. Included are resources for learning about representation, with activities to assess students’ prior knowledge. There are links to road safety statistics and ad campaigns. It supports schools which focus on moving image, print and radio media.

(From Newsletter 12, 2013) Back to top

Statistics: classes put the brakes on

Wellington College students investigate vehicle stopping distances during statistics lessons.

Sparking a chain of thinking and action was the aim when Wellington College teachers created and trialled a statistics unit for year 9 and 10 students. It is a comparative investigation of stopping distances under different conditions.

New Zealand secondary statistics road safety curriculum resource.This was a practical example of the Problem, Plan, Data, Analysis and Conclusion (PPDAC) enquiry cycle emphasised in the New Zealand Curriculum.

It includes a random sample of stopping distances at different speeds and in wet and dry conditions. Students asked questions, investigated the data for themselves and shared their own conclusions about the impact of speed and conditions on safe driving.

Here’s what teachers involved in the Wellington College trial with year 10 classes said about the resource:

  • ‘Worthwhile, useful and particularly well-prepared. Teacher-friendly and adaptable with a relevant context and an authentic data set.’
  • ‘We were impressed by how much the students really thought about the context, and we were impressed at the depth of some of their insights. They came up with things you might not expect – they were aware of potential differences in stopping abilities of older and newer model cars or of modified cars with lowered suspension, for example.’
  • ‘Students can rail at being told something – like lower your speed – but they can’t rail at asking questions and investigating data themselves, or at sharing conclusions and being asked to think about how we can improve on these statistics.’

(From Newsletter 10, 2012) Back to top

Science: forces lessons ramp up

Student work, Lincoln High SchoolLincoln High School teachers trialled the NZTA’s science unit with year 9 classes. Written by Pam Hook, the unit is a flexible plan about forces in the context of vehicle safety.

After teachers checked students’ prior knowledge, they moved on to challenges like the ramp. In this activity, classes experimented with materials to slow down model cars on a long steep ramp, simulating real-life engineering solutions like road bumps.

Here’s what the Lincoln team said:

  • ‘We were surprised by the intensity of interest and how much the students got into this unit.’
  • ‘The unit worked because it allowed us to pick and choose objectives and activities to meet the needs of our students.’
  • ‘Science gives students the knowledge to make their own choices. We want our students to make decisions based on science and logic, rather than just remember rules.’
  • ‘Definitely, more students understand force and motion because we taught it this way. They understand it much better than if we had just put equations about forces on the board

(From Newsletter 9, 2012) Back to top

Visual arts: positive pictures

Student art workStudents responded with energy and enthusiasm to a lesson putting art to a road safety purpose, creating posters aimed at their generation.

The visual arts unit was written for the NZTA by Wellington East Girls’ College teacher Hayley Carleton and trialled by head of art Ros Cameron.

The two teachers said the aim was to deepen student understanding of pedestrian safety issues, such as the distraction of mobile phones and iPods.

‘At the same time we wanted students to learn about the design process and the relationship of text and images in creating an idea. We wanted them to produce artwork that would engage other teenagers because it was positive, light-hearted, humorous and educational.’

Students looked at how safety advertisements can balance fun and serious elements. They researched hazards they noticed when coming to school.

‘Taking time to investigate thoroughly meant that what students came up with in terms of their artwork was solid. It means they are doing the learning and embedding it in their own practice.’

(From Newsletter 9, 2012) Back to top

English: authentic context for vehicle safety

Two secondary English resources aim at helping students change their road safety behaviour for the better.

New Zealand English curriculum resources featuring road safety as context.The units, one aimed at year 9–10 and the other at NCEA Level 2, were developed by e-learning consultant and former Head of English Karen Melhuish Spencer.

She says the resources aim to help students change their road safety behaviour, particularly vehicle safety, in a way that appeals to their sense of community and belonging, as opposed to using shock tactics or scaremongering.

The year 9–10 resource ‘We Travel Together’ has a learning focus on how language is used to persuade people.

‘Essentially the unit asks students to consider the vehicle journeys they make themselves and compare those to other teenagers’ stories. They then produce a text – perhaps a letter, blog post or video – to persuade peers or family to make some kind of change in their behaviour.’

‘The Party in the Car’ for Achievement Standard 2.10 asks students to unpack how a visual or oral text works.

Students select a road safety advertisement, analyse the message within it and bring in what they know about road safety through their own behaviour and that of friends and family.

Head of English at Hutt International Boys’ School Jane Dewar trialled the unit with a year 12 class last year. It went down well with her students, providing them with an authentic context.

(From newsletter 6, 2012) Back to top