Title: Peer Road Safety Education in Scottish Secondary Schools

Organisation: Road Safety Scotland
Date uploaded: 24th November 2010
Date published/launched: Pre 2009

This research explores the feasibility of using peer education to teach road safety programmes in secondary schools in Scotland.

The Scottish Executive commissioned East House Research to undertake research to explore the feasibility of using peer education in road safety education (RSE) in secondary schools in Scotland. A range of methodologies was used: these comprised structured interviews (with road safety personnel, teachers, pupils, peer education specialists and other education personnel), case studies in four schools and a literature review.

Peer education was defined as young people imparting information to others of a similar age. Peer education was found to be used with considerable variation in a number of educational contexts. Peer education in secondary schools was used to cover topics in health and personal education, and was also used to help younger pupils with specific academic subjects or with behavioural problems. Some schools ran their own peer education programmes while other schools hosted peer education programmes that were run by outside agencies. A range of pre-requisites of successful peer education programmes was identified.

Peer education made demands on teachers' and pupils' time, and issues of training, timetabling and management of the scheme were highlighted as potential problems in the initiation of any new scheme. Evaluations of peer education schemes identified that the educators were the main beneficiaries of such programmes. The educators were seen to increase in knowledge and confidence as a result of taking part. Benefits to the target group of pupils were harder to quantify and no research had indicated that peer education was more effective than traditional educational methods at informing the target group of pupils.

Most interviewees felt that it would be possible to integrate RSE into existing peer education programmes, although it was felt that this would be difficult where schemes were voluntary and content was driven by the target pupils' needs. Given that peer education was not demonstrably more effective than other forms of transmitting knowledge to a target group, it is questionable whether peer education would have added value in contexts where resources and programmes already exist for covering RSE.

However, the finding that peer education holds benefits for the educators suggests that it might be a useful means of engaging involvement of those groups of pupils identified as hard to target in road safety programmes. In secondary schools, the stages S3-S6 and their teachers have been recognised as hard to reach by those engaged in RSE, and it is suggested that pupils from these stages might be recruited as peer educators.

Interviewees agreed that, to succeed, peer education RSE should be linked to existing programmes, rather than developed as a discrete one-issue package. For example, it might be covered within a programme that dealt with a range of issues to do with risk assessment and personal safety. All teacher interviewees indicated a willingness to include RS in existing peer education schemes. This suggests enthusiasm in those who are already involved in peer education to accommodate another topic in the programme.

It is recommended that Road Safety Scotland develop a pilot peer education programme, using S3-S6 pupils as educators of younger pupils. Training, resources and support frameworks for participants would all have to be developed. Issues of recruitment and timetabling would also have to be addressed.

RSS should attempt to link with some peer education schemes already in operation to integrate RSE as an element of existing programmes. This would allow road safety materials and systems to be used and evaluated as part of established peer education schemes. Evaluations should explore benefits to both the educators and the target groups of pupils.

For more information contact:
The Scottish Government General Enquiries

External links: