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'It is kind of nonnegotiable': Fears of 'significant' cuts to road safety sessions in schools

PUBLISHED: 10:07 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 11:33 17 June 2019

Norfolk County Council is conducting a review of road safety sessions taught in the county's schools. Picture: Archant Library

Norfolk County Council is conducting a review of road safety sessions taught in the county's schools. Picture: Archant Library

Archant © 2008

Fears have been raised over potential cuts to road safety education for children in Norfolk.

Master of road safety Olly Day prepares for another lesson on his Norfolk school rounds. Picture: SubmittedMaster of road safety Olly Day prepares for another lesson on his Norfolk school rounds. Picture: Submitted

The county council conducted a review of road safety sessions in schools - which cover cycling and pedestrian safety - asking staff how effective they find the current offering. The consultation ended on June 14 and had almost 300 responses.

Council data shows that one child was killed and 24 seriously injured on Norfolk's roads in 2017, out of a total of 31 deaths and 388 serious injuries.

While no cuts to services have been confirmed and the county council is not anticipating a decrease in funding, some who are involved with the services say the future is uncertain.

Olly Day has been running road safety "magic shows" in Norfolk schools for 27 years and estimates he has made more than 1,300 visits to the county's first, primary and junior schools.

Stuart Odell, headteacher at Trowse Primary School. Picture: ArchantStuart Odell, headteacher at Trowse Primary School. Picture: Archant

Of all his professional achievements, he said the road safety shows - run in conjunction with Norfolk County Council - were the thing he was most proud of.

"The reception is still fantastic. The children love it. It is learning with laughter, but sharing really serious messages," he said.

"I would be so upset if I had to stop. When I finished my tour this year in May I thought, this is really sad, after all these visits it might end."

He added: "It is all up in the air. Normally I would know by now that the road safety shows are booked for the next year but sadly we are not sure what is happening."

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Stuart Odell, headteacher at Trowse Primary School, said road safety education was a pillar of its extra-curricular teachings.

"We take any opportunity we get for teaching them how to lead a safe life," he said.

"Living so close to the city and being near the County Hall roundabout, it is really important that they know how to look after themselves.

"It looks very much like there are going to be significant cuts.

"I think it is really sad. From the children's point of view I relentlessly go on about 'be safe, be happy and learn', and to be able to be safe will be compromised if services are cut.

"It is something we as a school will look to continue to provide. If the services are cut we will just have to squeeze our money even further because it is kind of nonnegotiable."

In reviews of its road safety services the county council found duplication of services in schools and a lack of efficacy in interventions using less up-to-date teaching methods.

Dr Louise Smith, Norfolk County Council's director of public health, said it would be premature to comment on how staffing may be affected by the review but that funding for road safety work - which comes from the county council and the police and crime commissioners office - "will remain broadly similar".

She said: "In developing our proposals for this new approach, we are consulting with schools as to the best way to ensure children receive effective road safety education. There is no proposal to end all road safety work for children."

What do you think about road safety education in Norfolk? Email bethany.whymark@archant.co.uk.

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