2. Methods

2. Methods

2.1 This research was qualitative and involved several phases of fieldwork. Our overall approach to the study involved:

  • obtaining permission from Directors of Education;
  • individual interviews with Road Safety Units in Scotland;
  • identifying schools that had used Your Call;
  • interviews with teachers in ten schools;
  • focus groups with pupils in the same ten schools;
  • interviews with national stakeholders; and
  • reporting.

Rationale for qualitative research

2.2 Road Safety Scotland was clear that it wanted to obtain in depth information about the ways in which Your Call has been used in secondary schools. A qualitative approach was adopted, to gather this in-depth information and to explore perspectives, attitudes, behaviours and experiences. 

2.3 This study adopted a case study approach, focusing on exploring the perspectives of different stakeholders in ten schools across Scotland. This approach allows comparison of the views and experiences of different individuals at the same school - including pupils, teachers, and Road Safety Officers. It also provides a detailed picture of experiences, allowing development of a rich story of the school's experience in relation to Your Call.

2.4 Different schools across Scotland will use Your Call in different ways, and this research was only able to explore a small number of experiences. Although the research was designed to include a range of schools with different experiences, the findings may not necessarily be transferable.

2.5 The specific research questions and our approach are included as Table A1 in Appendix six.

Obtaining permission from Directors of Education

2.6 Our approach involved speaking with young people in a secondary school setting. The Scottish Government has protocols in place for research involving schools. This involves obtaining consent from the local authority Director of Education, and then the relevant head teacher.

2.7 At the start of the research, Road Safety Scotland contacted all Directors of Education across Scotland, informing them of the research and seeking their permission to undertake research with pupils in secondary schools in their area.

Interviews with Road Safety Officers

2.8 Road Safety Units (RSUs) across Scotland have responsibility for promoting awareness of road safety issues with the public, and specifically with primary and secondary school pupils. We conducted a semi-structured telephone interview with 20 Road Safety Officers, with a remit covering 25 local authority areas across Scotland. The local authority areas covered by these interviews are included in Table A2 at Appendix six.

2.9 The discussions with Road Safety Officers informed our selection of case study schools as they were able to recommend schools that were currently, or had been recently using Your Call.  A copy of the discussion guide is included as Appendix one.

Identifying schools that had used Your Call

2.10 Our approach involved an in-depth examination of how the case study schools had used Your Call and their views on the resource, through speaking to teachers, and pupils.

2.11 We deliberately selected schools which provided:

  • a mix of rural and urban areas (based on the Scottish Government's classification);
  • a mix of levels of deprivation (based on the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation);
  • a geographical spread across Scotland;
  • a mix of levels of ethnic minority pupils;
  • different levels of use of the resource; and
  • different year groups using the resource.

2.12 We selected ten case study schools within nine local authority areas. This included one school for pupils with Additional Support Needs.  Our sampling matrix can be found in Table A3 at Appendix six.

Obtaining permissions from individual schools in the case study areas

2.13 A dedicated member of the research team contacted each of the schools to ask for permission to include the school as a case study. We liaised with the head teacher to agree whether the school would participate, and whether parental consent was necessary. Because all of our focus group discussions took place during school time, all the head teachers advised that parental consent was not required for this particular research. Once permission had been obtained, we liaised with the relevant member of staff – usually the guidance teacher to arrange a suitable date and time to come to the school to meet with the teacher and pupils.

2.14 At this stage, it became clear that while Road Safety Officers believed Your Call was being used in schools; in reality, this was not always the case.

2.15 In total, we contacted 31 schools in 19 local authority areas in order to identify ten schools that were using the resource and willing to participate in the research.

The final school selection

Table 2.1: Final school selection

Table 2.1: Final school selection

2.16 The final school selection provided a good mix of different situations in which the Your Call resource was used, in terms of location, level of deprivation, use of the resource and the age range it was used with.

Teacher interviews

2.17 At each of the ten case study schools, we held a face-to-face interview with the teaching staff involved in delivering road safety education, and using Your Call. This was typically a guidance teacher with responsibility for the pupil year group we met with.

2.18 A copy of the discussion guide used with teachers is included as Appendix Two.

Focus groups with pupils

2.19 We held a total of twelve focus groups with young people at ten schools, plus one paired interview. Two focus groups were held within one school which was keen for two classes of S4 pupils to participate. We also conducted a paired interview with two S4 pupils at another school where the researcher had undertaken the planned focus group discussion with the S1 class. This school requested that the researcher speak to the two S4 pupils who were keen to share their views of Your Call.

2.20 In another school, we conducted two focus groups with pupils.  This school had used an innovative method for delivering the resource. Sixth year pupils volunteered to deliver the Your Call resource to the S1 pupils as part of a Peer Support programme. We conducted a focus group with S1s who had received the Your Call resource, and with S6 pupils who had delivered it. A total of 115 pupils were involved in the study.

2.21 The groups were designed specifically to be conducted during one class period and lasted approximately 45-50 minutes.  Therefore it was not possible to discuss all the elements of the Your Call activities at every group. We explored the elements of the toolkit each class had used. For example, all the young people involved in the research had seen the DVD, and this was explored in all groups.

Participant profile

2.22 Initially, we aimed to involve a mix of young people from S1 to S3 in the research. In discussion with teachers it became evident that the resource was more frequently used with S1 and S2 pupils. Therefore the majority of the focus groups took place with the younger age groups.

2.23 However, in one school, the resource had been used exclusively by S4. This school had not received any training on the use of the resource, nor did they have a full copy of the toolkit – just a copy of the DVD. The teacher at this school indicated that they found it a useful introduction to the 'Safe Drive, Stay Alive' road-show and that it fitted with their topic of 'personal safety' within their PSE curriculum. The school did not use Crash Magnets or any other road safety resource.

2.24 Despite our request for a small focus group discussion with up to ten pupils, when our researcher arrived at the school, we were unexpectedly presented with two large groups of S4 pupils. This means that almost a third of our participants have come from S4 – despite the resource being aimed at S1 to S3 pupils. S4 pupils did not always find the resource credible, as it was not aimed at their age group. This will be discussed in more detail in section 5.19.

2.25 The table below shows the breakdown of participants for each case study school and then by year group.

Table 2.2: Profile of focus group participants
  Year group breakdown
Age Range Number of participants Number of groups Year group Number of participants
Aberdeenshire S4 18+15 2  
Dundee S1 12 1 S1 49
East Dunbartonshire S1 6 1 S2 16
Fife S1, S2, S3 5+6+4 1 S3 11
Highland S3 7 1 S4 35
Midlothian S1 +S2 4+3 1 S6 4
Scottish Borders S2 7 1
South Lanarkshire S1 7 1
South Lanarkshire S1 +S6 9 +4 2
Stirling S1 +S4 6+2 1 + paired int
Total 115 12

2.26 A copy of the discussion guide used with pupils is included at Appendix Three.

Interviews with national stakeholders

2.27  We contacted one representative each from Road Safety Scotland, Education Scotland and HMIE to take part in an interview to gather their views. We met face-to-face with the representative from Road Safety Scotland, and conducted a telephone interview with the representative from Education Scotland. Due to recent restructuring, HMIE has become part of Education Scotland and so we did not conduct a separate interview with HMIE – instead this was covered by the representative from Education Scotland. Their views are incorporated into this report where appropriate.

Analysis and reporting

2.28 The facilitator acted as a scribe at each of the interviews and focus groups. None of the groups were audio recorded. Our experience of working with young people has taught us that often they can become intimidated by audio recording equipment, and so we took written notes to ensure the young people were comfortable to participate.

2.29 Following each interview and group the facilitator typed these notes up, complete with verbatim quotes. One senior member of staff responsible for the research then analysed all the notes using manual thematic coding. This was done through reviewing all of the qualitative information gathered and sorting it under emerging themes. Similar themes were coded in the same way, allowing us to see what themes were emerging, and how often.  Case studies were produced for each of the schools, detailing their use, and views of the toolkit. These have been anonymised and are included as Appendix Five. 

2.30 The following chapters present the key findings from the focus group discussions with pupils, as well as the interviews with teachers, Road Safety Officers and National Stakeholders.  Verbatim comments are included to illustrate key points. Where appropriate, we have highlighted variations in findings based on the age, and/or location of the school. Given this was a relatively small scale qualitative study; these should be used with care.