Rail guide for older students

Students at West Ryde PS with safety learning aids.

A redeveloped study tool that teaches young people to be safe near trains is to be offered online to high schools from June after a package aimed at primary school students late last year drew a good response, with one teacher saying the unit “immediately engaged” her pupils.

The kit, which can be packaged within various learning areas such as English or Health and Physical Education (HPE), was developed by teachers in an 18-month project funded by the rail industry. Its current redevelopment for senior classes was prompted by rail operator data showing high school students were more at risk of serious injury and death through unsafe behaviour near trains and tracks.

Older students often travel in groups and peer pressure can make them act in ways that endanger their safety or the lives of others. While previous initiatives focused on risks and consequences “Be on the Safe Side” uses a strengths-based approach.

About 250,000 schoolchildren, mostly unsupervised, use trains daily to go to school. With an average 166 collisions between humans and trains each year — 35 of them fatal — teachers in the trial project worked to make the new learning unit useful in preventing accidents.

A year 3/4 teacher from South Australia in the trial project who used the rail safety study tool with the HPE curriculum said it was thoroughly enjoyable. “I read all of the other lessons,” the teacher added. “I was particularly impressed with the English-related lessons as they progress so appropriately through the year levels. The resources … fit the pattern of multilingual literacy which I employ.”

Students learn and retain safety messages best when they are positive and integrated as part of their normal curriculum, Australasian Railway Association CEO Brian Nye said.

Teachers wanting information about the unit can visit www.tracksafeeducation.com.au.