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Fire safety education in schools
With the Victorian school population inching up to one million, how can CFA ensure that fire safety messages are reaching those masses?
Community Development Coordinator Matt Henry believes the key is supporting the state’s 50,000 teachers, providing them with lesson plans aligned to the national curriculum and professional development to teach the material.
Matt hit the road in 2014, visiting all secondary and P-12 schools on the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development’s Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR).
“We went out to teachers and asked them what they wanted,” says Matt. “CFA then developed materials, badged as covering disaster resilience, in consultation with a number of schools.”
From Mallacoota to Murrayville, seven school then took part in a Term 4 pilot, taking the lessons to their students. A survey conducted before the pilot found that only two of those teachers had previously taught a fire safety lesson – and both of them were CFA volunteers.
Matt provided all teachers in the pilot and a majority of those in the BARR schools with face-to-face professional development. Teachers taking fire safety lessons into curriculum-determined subject streams from civics and citizenship through to geography and thinking processes were therefore equipped to teach this new material with confidence.
A survey conducted after the pilot expressed the teachers’ appreciation of the miles travelled by CFA. Of those who returned the survey, all had taught at least one fire safety lesson while some had taught up to ten.
“We broke some ground in these schools,” continues Matt, “and the principals welcomed it with open arms.
All schools on the BARR but not included in the pilot also received all resources.