Pupils triumph in school rail safety scheme

With the construction of the Borders Railway due to be completed next month, Network Rail and British Transport Police (BTP) have engaged with 26 local primary schools throughout Midlothian and the Scottish Borders to help communicate the dangers of living near a railway as part of their Rail Safety Reps education programme.

The programme, which works with teachers to organise fun and educational rail safety awareness activities, saw a poster competition take place in primary schools throughout both areas, whilst two schools were also awarded for their efforts for going above and beyond to educate pupils on living safely near a railway.

Eilidh Taylor

Eilidh Taylor, Gorebridge Primary School 

The winning poster designs came from Eilidh Taylor, P6, from Gorebridge Primary School and Annabelle Lugton, P7, from Tweedbank Primary. Not only were their posters very colourful, it was evident that a lot of time and effort also went in to promoting the Rail safety message.

Meanwhile Gorebridge Primary School and Stow Primary School were both highly commended for their efforts in communicating and engaging with pupils to communicate rail safety messages. Both schools were awarded with £250 cheques which will be put to great use.

Activities at the schools included a visit to Gorebridge Primary from Aileen Campbell, Minister for Young People who launched the Scottish Youth Theatre’s Drama Safety workshop. Stow Primary has been enthusiastic supporters of the railway; there has been a whole school project entitled ‘Life on the Line’ which has examined the history of the railway, as well as a series of thought-provoking assemblies which helped pupils understand all the hard work invested in the project.

The Borders Railway Schools Safety Awareness activities will continue into August and September, with summer sports activities and Scottish Youth Theatre high schools workshops.

Katie Vollbracht, senior programme development manager, Network Rail, said: “The team were very impressed with the creativity and inspired poster designs from the pupils and with how much effort the schools themselves put behind the rail safety scheme. Engineering trains are already travelling along the line so it is essential that young people are aware of the risks. We are committed to continuing to work with schools along the route to underline the safety message.”

Inspector Angela McGregor, BTP Spokesperson said: “The Borders Policing Team have delivered the Rail Rep safety programme to schools in the Midlothian and Borders communities in working partnership with Network Rail, leaving a legacy which can be drawn on by present and future pupils. The legacy which forms part of our successful communication and engagement strategy will also provide a solid platform for future BTP activity including key objectives involving continued railway safety education for children and adults”.

Pauline Copeland Depute Head Teacher from Gorebridge Primary School, said: “This competition was an excellent way to engage our pupils and allow them to understand the potential dangers of the railway. We’re proud that Eilidh Taylor’s design caught the eye of the judges. The Rail Safety Reps education programme at the school follows the excellent Scottish Youth Theatre safety workshops last year. We look forward to working with British Transport Police and Network Rail into the future.”