I have received correspondence on this matter from the person referred to by the Deputy. The question of introducing a road safety and driver education syllabus into schools has been examined by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA) on foot of a report from a task group set up in 2000 and which included representatives of the Department of Education and Science, the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, the National Safety Council, the Garda Síochána, the Irish Insurance Federation, the Society of the Irish Motor Industry, Rosary College Crumlin, the CCEA Northern Ireland and the NCCA. The NCCA also commissioned a study on driver education in post primary schools from Dr. Ray Fuller of Trinity College Dublin.
The NCCA, whose role is to advise the Minister for Education and Science on curriculum and assessment issues, recommended that road safety be addressed within the context of Social, Personal and Health Education (SPHE) and that driver education, and specifically learning to drive for pupils aged 17, should not become part of the school curriculum. The NCCA noted that this concurred with the practice in other jurisdictions.
At the start of the 2001/02 school year the National Safety Council, with assistance from my Department, distributed copies of Staying Alive — a road safety resource for Transition Year and the Senior Cycle — to all second level schools. This pack contained a wide range of learning opportunities and activities on topics such as personal responsibility and decision-making, environmental issues and risks and rules for road users. A CD-ROM with additional material downloaded from the Internet was included in the pack along with copies of the Rules of the Road. In the preparation of the Staying Alive resources material, views were sought from a range of organisations with interests in the promotion of road safety. Prior to its issue to second level schools, the material was piloted in 20 schools and the response from teachers in those schools was very positive.
A new high-level Government Road Safety group of which I am a member has met and the role of education in addressing road safety will be discussed in this forum.