Caution on school driving lessons

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Introducing driving lessons in school time will “always [come] at the expense of something else”, a principal says.

Roncalli College principal Chris Comeau said while the school offered NCEA credits for those passing licences and could be fairly supportive of the teaching-driving-in-school idea, there were questions around how that would look.

He said it could be quite hard to teach driving in a classroom context.

It was quite important for pupils to learn to drive well, but the addition of something to the curriculum “always [came] at the expense of something else”.

His comments were in response to a recent proposal by Local Government New Zealand to introduce driving instruction in school time.

While a lot of the Roncalli pupils were getting lessons through the AA, it was not vital for getting to school as “most” of the young people were on bus routes, Mr Comeau said.

Mackenzie College principal Jason Reid said while the school had “no concrete plans” about creating an in-school licence programme for 2018, it was open to the idea.

“We do view it as a very high priority to build into our programme(s), as employers have stated that most trades view a licence as an essential for applicants.”

Timaru Girls’ High School principal Sarah Davis said while it offered credits for passing licences, she was not aware of a “screaming demand” for on-site lessons.

She suggested it could be offered as part of the school’s development, which offered a variety of skills training for pupils, including barista courses and first aid training.

Most of the school’s pupils were self-motivated when it came to learning to drive, she said.

Advance Driver Training instructor Neville Cross said he had not heard of the proposal and it was unclear whether it would be a standard classroom teacher taking the lessons or a driving instructor.

“They are quite specialised skills to teach.”

The scheme, proposed at the LGNZ conference, had the backing of 79% of those attending the conference.

Several council representatives spoke about the significant challenges of youth obtaining employment without a driver’s licence and the difficulty of young people in rural areas getting licences.

Mr Cross said he understood the need for alternative means of teaching driving, when places such as Twizel did not have driving instructors or testing places, but as unsure whether teaching in schools was the solution.