"Student learning includes developing the confidence to make a good decision and act on that decision."
The ability to make good decisions and act on them is one of the crucial outcomes that Senior Constable Fenton Herrick seeks to achieve with students of all ages.
As a School Community Officer, Fenton Herrick works with primary and secondary students around Southland. He says he can tell students are taking ownership of road safety when they grow in confidence about making decisions.
For example, when teaching cycle skills in a safe environment such as school grounds, he will deliberately set up courses so children it is safe to proceed. A figure-of-eight layout means they have to watch for classmates about to cross their path.
"They’ve got to be aware that there’s someone else coming from the side, rather than think they can go at any time. It gives them that heads-up that other people will be around," he says.
Southland students who catch a school bus need to decide when it is safe to cross the road after getting off. Fenton says parents often ask children to look at when to cross, but make the final decision for them. Learning needs to progress towards independent decision-making at a suitable age.
In line with a whole school approach, last year Fenton worked with a local council and school community to lower vehicle speeds past the school bus. Lower speed limits at morning and afternoon and warning signs provide students with a safer environment and help drivers reduce speeds.
When Fenton works with teenagers, including those caught for serious driving offences, he helps them reflect on how attitudes towards driving influence decision-making. These learning experiences are a chance to step back and think about the causes and consequences of decisions.
Making the right call on nights out requires planning ahead, he says to them.
"You’ve got to have a clear idea of how you’re going to get home, rather than try to wing it."