John Tonkin College go for gold: School push focus on road safety and drug education

John Tonkin College students at the renovated bus zone. Photo: Supplied.

John Tonkin College students at the renovated bus zone. Photo: Supplied.

John Tonkin College have put the focus on road safety and drug education this year in an effort to achieve their gold status in the Department of Education's Changing Health Acting Together (CHAT) program.

The CHAT program, developed in 2010, takes a whole school approach to implementing better health and wellbeing outcomes and involves more than 120 schools across Western Australia.

After starting the program in 2012, the College have already achieved awards for bronze and silver statuses for improved resilience, drug and road safety education.

The public high school will be just the second in the Peel region to get their gold status, which they hope to achieve by the end of the year.

In order to attain each status, the school must identify three goals in the categories of Curriculum, Ethos and Environment and Parents and Community.

The CHAT program then provides them with funding to action a plan and achieve those goals for each status.

John Tonkin College student services officer Che Heeley said most recently the school had renovated the bus pick up zone to achieve their silver status.

"The old bus stop down here was quite dangerous - I would always be on bus duty and there was nothing there for safety so we looked at a few things and one was a railing system," Mr Heeley said.

"I contacted the City of Mandurah and they provided half of the funding and we worked closely with the council.

"The kids now are behind the rails lining up and they're not gathered where the buses can come up to, there's no possibility of them falling over near the path of the buses."

Read more:

After the railing was installed over the April school holidays, Mr Heeley said staff on duty and school bus drivers had already noticed a significant improvement in student safety.

"It's only been this term so I must admit it's early days but just from the staff that are on bus duty and speaking to the bus drivers, it's so much easier and safer," he said.

"Now we are just about to meet to go over and review what we've done and set some new goals to achieve our gold status."

The program is run by the Department of Education's Road Safety and Drug Education branch (formerly SDERA), based out of the John Tonkin College Tindale campus.

Peel coordinator of the branch Tania Gigg said the school had also implemented a number of other initiatives to achieve their bronze and silver statuses and improve drug and road safety education.

These include incorporating the topics into the health curriculum and expanding this unit to be taught across all year levels, distributing pamphlets and brochures about road safety specifically on the John Tonkin College campuses and embedding relevant information into the student diary so parents and students are aware of it.

"Our role as the road safety and drug education branch is that we support the schools to achieve their goals," Ms Gigg said.

"[John Tonkin College] has been amazing - the principals have been exceptional, always willing to have their teachers do professional learning and be upskilled and always encouraging education in the classroom.

"I cannot speak any more highly - they have taken this on board in leaps and bounds and have worked really hard to achieve what they have."

For all the latest news from John Tonkin College, visit their Facebook page.

For more information about the CHAT program, visit the SDERA website.