Children take notice when a police officer walks into the classroom. It’s always an exciting event.
“A teacher will take some lessons, the police education officer takes some and they will do some lessons together. There’s a partnership there.”
The rapport that each officer works hard to create means students tune in and remember what they learn. Road safety education is one area covered by officers like Senior Constable Bernie Watt. He’s based in Orewa.
“Kids love having the police officer come to school – having the uniform on makes a big difference,” he says.
Bernie says officers and teachers collaborate on lesson plans that are age-appropriate and respond to the school’s needs. Bus safety may be the theme in a rural school, while city students learn about safe walking.
He says a practical element to lessons cements what children learn. After teaching students about safe walking, for example, he’ll take them out on a pre-determined route through local streets. Parents help out at challenging points like busy crossings.
“It lets the children show their prowess with the practical skills we’ve taught them.”
Bernie says teachers should also remember that police officers are an important contact for solving safe travel issues.
“We’re a go-to person for schools for any engineering solution and we pass those on to the local body, which we liaise with, and then there is the education programme too. So our work with every school is a little different.”