Authentic learning gets the green light at Karonga

A new pedestrian crossing is helping students learn about road safety at Karonga School. Jim Griffiths reports.

A woman and a boy in a wheelchair standing on a footpath at a set of traffic lights. A woman and a boy in a wheelchair standing on a footpath at a set of traffic lights.
Image: Karonga School Principal Ruth Rogers and Year 6 student Elijah at the new pedestrian crossing.

A new pedestrian crossing at Karonga School is teaching students important lessons about road safety.

The school has become the first in NSW to install a working pedestrian traffic crossing, complete with lights.

The crossing is a true-to-life replica of the crossings on most city and suburban roads. It was funded with support from the Epping Club, as well as proceeds from hiring the school’s facilities to community groups.

Principal Ruth Rogers said students were gaining an understanding of safe road crossing practices.

“It’s making the students aware of the good practice of standing in a safe place and activating the button, and then waiting with your hand on the sensor plate so you can feel through the vibrations,’ she said.

“And then once you have got the cues to cross, which would be the visual of the green man, the noise and the tactile haptics in the touch plate, you cross in a timely manner,” Ms Rogers said.

The school rejected the concept of a mock-up system in the early planning stages, as there was a strong desire to have an authentic learning opportunity for students that fully replicated a real traffic crossing.

“We also rejected the idea that we could give the students longer to cross, as that would also be artificial and not replicate what is expected at a real crossing,” Ms Rogers said.

Karonga worked with Transport for NSW and engineering company Tobco to ensure a realistic crossing was installed that could stop cars at the car park entrance and teach students an invaluable life skill. The project was completed during the September school holidays.

The crossing can be used by families and students, as well as visitors as they enter the school.

“We’ve also suggested to other schools for specific purposes that they can bring their students here, in a safe venue, to learn road safety,” Ms Rogers said.

Karonga School meets the needs of students with moderate to severe intellectual impairment, sensory impairments and complex health needs.

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