Ways we can cope with risk
Mark Whitehead on packs for safe and healthy living. Traditionally the preserve of insurance companies, risk assessment is now being placed squarely in the school curriculum. The ability to weigh up dangers and act accordingly is at the heart of a teacher's resource pack produced by the Child Accident Prevention Trust. As Andrea Woolley reminds us in the introduction, being able to assess the risks in everyday activities is an essential life skill.
A glance at the statistics shows why this makes sense. Accidents are the biggest cause of death among children, killing around 500 under-15s on the roads, in the home or at play every year, while about 7.5 million are taken to hospital accident and emergency departments and 100,000 are admitted. Road accidents are the biggest single cause followed by house fires, drowning and a plethora of other horrors.
Aimed at key stage 2 children, The Risk Pack suggests a range of topics and themes - travel, water, fire and so on - and how the question of safety can be brought into them. It explains the processes and concepts involved in risk assessment and suggests ways they can be explored.
A topic chart shows how, for example, hurricanes and tornadoes can be used to explore the idea of risk while bringing in several national curriculum subjects. In geography, children could investigate areas of the world where hurricanes and tornadoes are prevalent. In maths they can look at the statistics of accidents and deaths. Combining history and design technology, they could look at the way construction materials have changed.
There is no shortage of materials for such work. The Accident Prevention Resource Guide, produced by CAPT alongside the Risk Pack, includes addresses and telephone numbers for more than 40 organisations producing information, teachers; packs and publicity materials on everything from road safety to dogs to poisoning. It also suggests several local sources for material and even provides a pro forma letter to ask for help. The guide is aimed at key stages 3 and 4, but could be just as useful, with a teacher's help, for younger children doing project work.
It should not be hard to interest children in the subject of food. Eat Your Words, a teacher's resource booklet produced by the National Heart Forum for use with seven to 11 year olds, aims to help improve children's diet.
The subtitle, Understanding Healthy Eating and Food Messages, highlights the dual-pronged approach. The idea is to improve children's knowledge of the food they consume and also to throw a spotlight on the hidden persuaders of the advertising and promotional worlds who try to influence our eating habits.
There is plenty here to make use of in the classroom, with no end of lists to be made, diaries to be kept and discussions to be had. But teachers will have to use their own expertise to make some of the activities worth doing.
Asking a child to think of a famous person and imagine what might be in his or her shopping trolley or fridge seems in itself a fairly pointless exercise. Better perhaps to find out what kind of diet a real celebrity, an athlete, for example, follows.