2 Development and Design of the Resource
2.1 Road Safety Education in Scotland
Immediately before the introduction of the Go Safe with Ziggy Early Years Resource in 2010, the main road safety education tool for 0-5 year olds in Scotland was the Children’s Traffic Club in Scotland (CTCS). Established in 1995, the CTCS sought to develop skills and awareness of key road safety messages for pre-school children through provision of educational resources provided directly to parents and carers at home. The CTCS was a membership scheme, and every parent/carer was invited to register their child with the CTCS around their child’s third birthday. The invitations were sent by post from Health Boards to all parents/carers of pre-school children in Scotland, although uptake was variable around the country.
The core resource for the CTCS was six workbooks, sent out directly to families who were registered with the club. The workbooks were interactive and factual worksheets were also provided to parents to help them in teaching their children about road safety and guide them in using the road safety tools.
Other partners were also involved in the distribution of CTCS materials and in encouraging use of the resources. This included:
- copies of the main road safety books being provided to nurseries and playgroups as well as song/story tapes;
- a dedicated childminder’s pack which included road safety themed activities/stickers/story and song tapes; and
- sample copies of the CTCS books being sent to Health Visitors along with registration forms so that they might encourage parents and carers to engage with the scheme.
In 2005, data showed that the uptake of CTCS membership in Scotland was around 50% of all parents and carers of three year olds and the proportionate uptake had declined since the initiative started in 1995. There was also wide variation in uptake around the country. In particular, uptake was lower in areas of high socio-economic deprivation.
In 2006, research was commissioned by Road Safety Scotland to better understand why levels of engagement were not as high as was hoped, and to explore differences in uptake based on social deprivation. This research identified that some of the main barriers to joining the scheme were:
- poor adult literacy and other language barriers, including English not being the first language in some households;
- the reliance on parents/carers needing to be proactive in joining the club;
- low levels of encouragement from nurseries/playgroups to get parents/carers to join, with better promotion of the initiative from Health Visitors;
- problems with the distribution of invitations to join the club, with high levels of home movement, particularly among families living in areas of deprivation meaning that invitations were being missed. Others simply did not recall receiving the membership forms;
- rigidity in the membership process, with only a short window to join the club, and all membership requests needing to be sent by post; and
- problems with awareness of the initiative and an unidentifiable theme/logo.
Encouragingly, this early research also indicated that road safety was considered to be an important issue among parents/carers and they were keen to ensure that their children received appropriate road safety education. Views on the resources that were part of the CTCS were also positive - particularly the gifted books and stickers that accompanied them. The main reservations regarding the resources were the perceived out-datedness of the characters in the books (i.e. balloon characters), the need for simpler texts and book layouts and the heavy reliance on parents to work directly with the children using resources - something that children could learn from more independently might be welcomed. Comments were also made that while the stories for children were engaging, the factual notes for parents were not and they were unlikely to read them.
Other comments included a need for memorable messages from each book, with a focus on just one or two key points being emphasised instead of multiple messages which might easily get confused. Support in using the resources was also welcomed, as well as online or interactive materials to support the printed books.
On the recommendation from this research, the Scottish Government approved the development of a new road safety resource for children in early years. In developing the new resource, Road Safety Scotland and the Scottish Government took forward a consultation with stakeholders to explore preferences in the ways that pre-school road safety education could be taken forward. This engagement revealed some key points on the preferred content and format of any revised early years resources, including that:
- joint approaches were preferred, where lessons learned in pre-school establishments could be reinforced in the home environment;
- resources needed to be simple, accessible and age appropriate. Previous resources, such as the CTCS were seen as too lengthy, too complicated and with no clear or identifiable lead character;
- books needed to be robust in their design and accompanied by supporting resources, such as online and interactive resources. Songs, stories and activities to engage children were key;
- resources needed to be available in accessible formats and additional languages, including Gaelic, and the messages conveyed needed to reflect the diversity in residential settings that children come from (i.e. urban and rural);
- provision needed to be universal and not based on ‘opt in’ approaches – access to resources needed to be automatically available to all; and
- links between the resource and the Curriculum for Excellence were needed to allow teaching professionals and parents/carers to understand how road safety education fits within the broader early years education objectives.
This earlier research ultimately led to the development of the Go Safe with Ziggy series of books and accompanying resources.
2.2 Exploring the Full Range of Resources
The core of the ‘Go Safe with Ziggy’ resource is a series of six books, these being:
Ante-pre-school year (age 3-4)
- Ziggy and the Lollipop
- Ziggy Visits Granny
- Ziggy’s Sunny Holiday
Pre-school year (age 4-5)
- Ziggy’s Halloween Wish
- Ziggy Goes Zab-a-ding-a-Wheeeee
Primary 1 (age 5-6)
- Ziggy and Maggie Start School
Although the books are numbered 1 to 6 on their spines, they do not follow a particular sequence. Further, although different books can be ordered for each of the two different ages of children at different times (i.e. Ziggy and the Lollipop for ante-pre-school age children), this split is simply to ensure that distribution is staggered in a systematic way over two years. All books can be used by either the older or younger aged children over time.
The main character in each book is Ziggy, an alien from the planet Cosmos, who has come to learn how to ‘Go Safe’ on and around the road. The other main characters in the books are two children (Andrew and Maggie) and their mother. The family take Ziggy with them on outside journeys to learn about road safety together.
Each of the books is available in large copy format (‘big books’) for use as a teaching resource by professionals in early years’ establishments and primary schools, as well as small books for the home to be used by children and their parents/carers. The books are also available in Gaelic and Scots, and audio copies of the books are accessible via the ‘Go Safe with Ziggy’ dedicated website. The website itself contains dedicated areas with tailored resources for educators, parents and children (the ‘Ziggy Zone’), which contain:
- Educators - image/sound/video galleries, activity idea cards, story audio files and links to CfE and to other road safety organisations;
- Parents - key road safety messages and guidance for parents/carers as educators, information about the little books for home and links to road safety organisations; and
- Children’s Ziggy Zone - links to watch videos of other children engaged in road safety education or activities, online copies of the small books to read and several interactive games related to the Ziggy books.
The website also provides access to copies of three additional books that are designed for children in the younger years (the ‘Out and About’ buggy book for infants, ‘Spot the Traffic’ and ‘Cross the Road with Ziggy’). While the first of these is available in hard copy, and is included in the Scottish Book Trust’s (SBT’s) Bookbug baby bag, the two additional Ziggy titles are available as online resources only.
A final feature of the website is that it provides access to the ‘Ziggy’s Fun Day Out’ story creator which allows children to write a road safety story with their peers and with the help of early years practitioners using an online template. For all stories submitted, classes receive a ‘My Journey with Ziggy’ pack complete with a Ziggy soft toy. The idea behind the resource is that the soft toy can then be taken home by children, in turns, to prompt them to share their road safety learning with parents/carers. Examples of stories that have already been submitted by other early years establishments can also be accessed online. The ‘My Journey with Ziggy’ pack was launched at the beginning of September 2015, and a promotional flyer was included with the Autumn 2015/16 order form issued to early years establishments by Education Scotland at the end of August the same year. Primary schools were also mailed separately by Education Scotland to promote the resource. It, therefore, represents the newest addition to the Go Safe with Ziggy package.
2.3 The Resources in Context
Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) is Scotland’s curriculum for children and young people aged 3 to 18. The early level spans pre-school and primary and is designed to meet the needs of most children from age 3 years until the end of Primary 1. The core messages of CfE for the early years are:
- active, experiential learning;
- a holistic approach to learning;
- smooth transitions; and
- learning through play.
Curriculum for Excellence also stresses that learning experiences should be shaped by the interests of children and the Go Safe with Ziggy resources were developed with this is mind, recognising that effective learning will be different between children. Education Scotland further outline in their approach to early years education some of the core approaches to learning that are effective in the early years, including, among other things:
- Active learning - the use of real life and imaginary situations to engage children’s thinking;
- ICT in Education - using information and communication technologies to share educational messages;
- Creativity - focusing on the identification and analysis of problems, learning from mistakes and using the imagination to explore new solutions;
- Outdoor Learning - use of different outside spaces to encourage new thinking; and
- Co-operative and collaborative learning - working with others, and without supervisor intervention, to analyse and solve problems together.
The design of the Go Safe with Ziggy resources reflects much of this existing knowledge on ‘what works’. The main aim of the Go Safe with Ziggy books is to “engage and inspire young children and the adults around them to go on their own road safety learning journey, through real experiences, alongside playing, talking and reading”. It therefore encompasses both the ‘active learning’ and ‘outdoor learning’ principles. The inclusion of online resources as part of the Ziggy brand ensures that children in their early years are offered the chance to learn road safety using ICT, and the range of art activities, puzzles and problem solving games included in the Ziggy Zone also encourage ‘creativity’. The books aim to provide key road safety education messages to children, their parents/carers and early years practitioners, and to encourage interactive learning about how to ‘Go Safe’, again ensuring that ‘co-operative and collaborative learning’ is encompassed.
In 2008, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) published a briefing paper for those involved in helping children and young people to stay safe, more generally, which included ten principles of effective safety education, to:
- encourage the adoption of, or reinforce, a whole school approach, within the wider community;
- use active approaches to teaching and learning (including interactive and experiential learning);
- involve young people in real decisions to help them stay safe;
- assess children and young people’s learning needs;
- teach safety as part of a comprehensive personal social and health curriculum;
- use realistic and relevant settings and resources;
- work in partnership (with supporting agencies such as the police);
- address known risks and protective factors (including gaps in knowledge, skills, parental rules, attitudes, and so on);
- address psychosocial aspects of safety (e.g. confidence, resilience, self-esteem and self-efficacy); and
- adopt positive approaches which model and reward safe behaviour, within a safe, supportive environment.
Again, the design of the Go Safe with Ziggy resources reflects much of this good practice. The approach that was developed for the new RSS early years resource focusses on introducing new books on a regular basis over the early years period, with books that can be used both at home and in educational settings to ensure cross-over of learning in both environments. This is designed to maintain strong links between home and nursery/school and ensure a consistency in the messages that children receive. The use of home links such as this is often cited as an example of best practice in early education, and research has shown that encouraging parental engagement through establishing links between home and school has a large and positive impact on children’s learning.
Although most of the book content is aimed at children and is designed for their learning, many messages in the books are also aimed at parents/carers. Supporting factual information and guidance is provided in the books for parents to improve and reinforce their own road safety awareness. The books are designed to be both an educational resource, and a fun, interactive resource for children to enjoy. Again, there is a considerable body of research evidence that shows that reading for pleasure impacts positively on educational, personal, emotional and social development. Research has also shown that reading engagement is more important for children’s educational success than familial socio-economic status and that parents play a critical role in fostering a love of reading. The design of the Go Safe with Ziggy books to engage both parents/carers and children in a shared book, follows this ethos.
2.4 Why Develop an Early Years Road Safety Resource?
Before going on to explore the findings from the research, there is value in reiterating the rationale for the development of the Go Safe with Ziggy resource.
Data published by Transport Scotland shows that there were 1,034 child casualties on Scotland’s roads in 2014 (the latest year for which data is available), representing just under 10% of all road casualties at the national level. Serious casualties represent around 16% of all child casualties and there has been a general downwards trajectory over the last decade or so for serious child casualties (from 372 in 2004 to 171 in 2014). The number of child fatalities remains small year on year, with an average of 6 children aged under 16 killed in the period 2012-14. Pedestrian casualties make up the greatest proportion of casualties for children (followed by car passengers and cyclists) and, in 2014, there were 501 child pedestrian casualties which represented around 29% of all pedestrian casualties of all ages.
Looking specifically at the early years, Figure 1 below shows that the overall number of reported casualties for children aged under 5 has declined over the last ten years, both among males and females, and that there has also been a narrowing of the gap between boys and girls involved in road casualties in recent years.
Figure 1: Reported Road Casualties for Under 5s, 2005 to 2014
Overall, although the child road safety targets as set out in Scotland’s Road Safety Framework to 2020 have not yet been met, positive progress is being made. The Road Safety Framework: 2015 Annual Report highlights that there has been a 61% decrease in the number of children killed since 2004-08; exceeding the 2020 target of 50%, as well as a 47% decrease in the number of children seriously injured since 2004-08; slightly below the 2015 milestone (50%), with the 2020 target being a 65% reduction on the baseline. Importantly, the targets reflect that child road safety is a long-term challenge and that delivering and promoting road safety education is a long term commitment.
Early years road safety education forms part of a wider community and parental responsibility to ensure that children are safe on the roads. It provides only the first step in a life-long road safety learning journey. It is against this backdrop that Road Safety Scotland seeks to ensure that the Go Safe with Ziggy resources continue to be designed, distributed and used to maximum effect so as to impact, wherever possible, on the safety of children on Scotland’s roads both now, and in the future.