Students lead the way in bushfire education

Harkaway Primary students Liam, Caleb, Ruth, Ava and Natasha. 376107_01 Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Emma Xerri

Students at Harkaway Primary School have been honoured with the National Resilient Australia Award for schools, after student-led research into bushfire education has highlighted the importance of students playing active roles in steering their own education.

Finding that many children displayed low levels of bushfire knowledge, awareness, planning and preparedness, the members of the school’s Bushfire Safety Committee have been hard at work identifying the ways in which their school community and Australia’s broader national community at large can better the way they deliver bushfire education.

Through a manifesto titled ‘Bushfire Education for Kids,’ which features brilliant hand drawn artwork by the children, the children have shared their research and their passion with the public, urging for their student-led bushfire education to be taken seriously.

“We want to make decisions about our own learning and action,” Harkaway Primary students said in a statement.

“If we can make decisions about our own learning and action, we can solve real problems that matter to us.”

However, the research conducted by these students has not only been important to shaping their own education, but the education of others, as the students hope to share the information that they have learnt with those beyond their school community.

“We want to help educate everybody – our families, our teachers, and the other kids at our school. We also want to educate kids from other schools.”

This plan involves videos, posters and books they hope to share with the community, as well as presentations and workshops that will focus on teaching people how to use online tools and apps, to help provide improved access to bushfire information for those who need it.

This hard work of the Bushfire Safety Committee has allowed for these students to rewrite the teachers manual, educate university students, present at conferences, and collaborate with fire agencies, educators and experts to help design and develop new approaches to Child Centred Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR).

With these tremendous achievements, the students at Harkaway Primary have well and truly proved they are “experts in [their] own lives and…experts in [their] own learning.”

“We just need the adults there to guide us, put us on the right track and help us if we get stuck. We can do the rest.”