School Traffic Safety Team road patrol training is part of the job for many school community officers.
It’s called Broadway; the main street of Matamata, and twice a day the local school children put on a show. There’s a wide grass divider running down the middle.
“This means that they have a pedestrian crossing either side of the road outside the primary school, and each of those needs to be manned by two school road patrol students,” says Senior Constable Natasha Snowdon, the district's School Community Officer.
“So that's four kids on that crossing. And then on the other side of their school, they have a kea crossing. There's two more people there, so at the start of school and end of school, Matamata Primary School have six kids, twelve kids per day on school patrol.”
Can you imagine training all the students rostered on for this? That’s Tash’s job.
“So when I go and do the training there, I can have anywhere up to 50 students being trained. I had 42 kids yesterday and that was at school in Te Aroha.”
Tash explains that training involves a mix of classroom learning and practical sessions. Classroom lessons include the official training videos:
Students learn to wear the bright orange vests correctly, and how to carry the lollipop signs – quite heavy for some.
“The school will then place them on a roster with the children that are departing at the end of that school year so they're getting some experience in the last term of the year,” says Tash.
“And then next year, I do refresher training in term one with all of those schools again. It’s about going out and doing another practical and making sure they are confident to actually get out there and do it themselves.”
She also trains students in rural schools for the role of bus warden. She takes part in cycle safety lessons run by council. She supports teachers in their supervising role. And she liaises between schools and local councils on safety issues and the potential for upgraded crossings.
She’s known by children as Constable Tash or Whaea Tash, and there’s plenty of work to keep her busy.
“I've never seen myself as a teacher or mentor before, but I guess that's really what this role entails. You’re dealing with children of all ages, and it’s just a really positive role.”