Lesson 1: A new journey

What attitudes do young people have towards road safety? What is the 'mindset' of people their age? Planning a safer journey to their new secondary school.

Learning objectives

For students at the end of Year 6 or the beginning of Year 7 to:

  • consider the attitudes that influence their own behaviour as pedestrians and cyclists, and the attitudes that influence the behaviour of other road users
  • understand that road safety is a very relevant issue for them as they move to secondary school
  • consider how they can assess the risks involved in independent journeys as pedestrians, cyclists or using public transport
  • plan a journey to keep themselves as safe as possible
  • understand that planning a route in advance can minimise risk.



Links to PSHE - 1.3, 2.2, 3g


1 hour plus extension

This lesson could form part of a programme to support new entrants to your school, either during a Year 6 visit, or early in Year 7.

To prevent duplication, and to ensure that gaps in knowledge are filled, it is important to liaise with primary colleagues to understand students' prior knowledge and previous activities on road safety.

Introduction - 5 minutes

  • Write 'road safety' on the board and ask students for their reaction - is it something they think about? What attitudes do they think people their age have to road safety? Is it high on their list of things to think about?

Vox pops - 10 minutes

  • The Mindset: vox pops interactive explores a range of attitudes towards road safety common amongst 11-14 year olds. Explore the vox pops as a class, using them to prompt discussion. Before you begin, you may want to check understanding of the term 'attitude' in this context (an opinion or general feeling about something).
  • What influences the attitudes of these young people to road safety?
  • What do you think of these young people's attitudes? Are any of them irresponsible? If so, which ones, and why do you think the young person feels that way? How could you persuade him/her to think differently? Point out that although the attitudes portrayed here may be common, it does not mean they are 'right'. There is a feedback table below to help you with this.
  • More detailed teachers' notes on the individual vox pops (PDF 320KB) - new window are provided in a separate PDF.

Mindset vox pops teachers' notes

  • What influences the students' own attitudes most? (Adults' behaviour, friends' behaviour, other concerns seem more important - bullying, being late, the media, perception that road safety is for younger children, knowing/not knowing someone who has been hurt on the roads.)
  • How do these attitudes to road safety influence their behaviour - positively and negatively? Students suggest examples from the vox pops and also from their own experiences.
  • What can change our attitudes? (Personal experience, learning strategies for resisting peer pressure, knowing the facts so that they can make an informed risk assessment.)

Risk and the Roads - multiple choice questions - 10 minutes

  • The What do you know? and What do you think? questions are designed to encourage students to think about their behaviour on the roads. As a class, look at two of the What do you know? multiple choice questions provided, and ask students to vote using a show of hands:
    • Which of these cause the most deaths of young people each year? (Road traffic incidents)
    • Which age range among children is most likely to be killed or seriously injured as a pedestrian or cyclist? (12-15 year olds)
  • Look at the answers together:
    • How many people chose the correct answers?
    • Do the answers surprise them? Why / why not?
  • Does knowing these facts affect students' attitudes towards road safety? Will it change their behaviour? How long for?

Independent journeys - 10 minutes

  • Explain that if students have a positive attitude towards road safety, there are actions that they can take to help keep themselves safer.
  • Either in groups, or as a whole class, ask students to list the types of journey that they make. Which journeys are made with adults and which are independent journeys (made on their own or with friends)? (Independent journeys might include travelling between home and school, visiting friends, going to local facilities such as leisure centres, shops, the cinema and recreational journeys such as cycling for fun.)
  • Explain that this lesson will focus on independent journeys, particularly but not exclusively the one between home and school. What if this is not an independent journey? In rural areas young people may be more likely to be dropped off by parent/other adult or older sibling. For young people at residential schools, these journeys may include trips to the shops. You will be looking at how students can assess the risk involved in making independent journeys, and how they can minimise that risk.
  • Ask students how often they actively plan their journey before setting out. What factors do they take into account? (Time available, weather, safety etc.) Do they consider the safest way to complete their journey or do they just make these decisions as they go along?

Assessing the risks - 25 minutes

  • Tell students that risk assessment involves three steps:
    1. Identifying things which could cause harm (hazards).
    2. Assessing how likely these are to actually happen and how bad/severe the consequences could be (the risk).
    3. Looking for ways of minimising the risks (making them smaller). Is it possible to eliminate any of the risks completely?
  • This lesson asks students to risk assess their new journey to secondary school. It will be one of the most frequent journeys that they will be making.
  • Teachers should run through an example journey with the class, using the process described below. Students can then complete the Journey planner (PDF 710KB) - new window activity sheet. To risk assess their journey, students should:
    • highlight the route from home to school on a map (a print out or an online map such as Google Maps or Multimap if enough computers are available)
    • list the stages involved in the journey (e.g. walking on the pavement, crossing the road, cycling on the road, cycling on a cycle path, using the bus or getting a lift in a car)
    • identify the hazards for specific points in their journey (e.g. being hit by a car or bike, falling off a bike, passengers being hurt if their vehicle crashes)
    • think about how they can change their route or make other adjustments to reduce the risk (e.g. choosing a longer route along quieter roads, choosing a longer cycle route so that you can use a cycle path, wearing a helmet if you are cycling, wearing a seatbelt in a car, using pedestrian crossings where available)
    • think about strategies for coping in different circumstances that could crop up (e.g. running late, bus cancelled, bike lights need new batteries, cannot get lift from parents, peer pressure to do something unsafe). This could be done by distributing new 'hazard cards' to individuals/groups as they work on their journey planners
  • When students have completed their grids, discuss the hazards, risks and strategies that they have come up with as a class, sharing ideas. Remind them that even though their journey plan minimises risk, it does not mean that they no longer need to consider road safety. They still need to be alert and aware of the road users around them.
  • What other new journeys might students be undertaking over the next few years as they gain more independence? For example:
    • trips into town, which may also be an unfamiliar environment for students living in rural areas
    • entertainment such as the cinema, which involves journeys during the evening, when it may be dark
    • visits to new friends' houses which may be spread over a larger area at secondary school.

Stress that gaining independence opens up new and positive experiences but remind students that journeys are safer when they have been planned in advance and minimised the risks.


Ask students to write down:

  • 3 facts they learnt about road safety
  • 2 positive actions to counter dangerous attitudes/behaviour
  • 1 thing they will do differently as a result of this lesson.

Links home

Students can take home their completed route planning worksheet, which will include a link to parents' information online. They should be encouraged to show these to their parents and discuss how they have planned their route to school. You could consider putting information about the lesson on your VLE or texting parents, if you have a system set up.

Optional extension activity:

Students could use the same process (identify hazards and assess and manage risk) in other situations that they'll find themselves in their new school, e.g. in a science laboratory or Design and Technology workshop.