Dear Campbell Newman & the Queensland Plan. Cooking up a recipe for success…

Last week 400 people, including my colleague Felicity, were brought together by Premier Campbell Newman at the Mackay Summit to discuss challenges and aspirations for Queensland in coming decades: resource scarcity, Asian economic growth, innovation and education, ageing population, environmental change. The summit drew up a list of six questions:

  1. In the context of living in the community, how do we move our focus from me to we?
  2. How do we create and foster an education culture that teaches skills and values to meet global challenges and optimises regional strengths?
  3. How do we empower and educate individuals, communities and institutions to embrace responsibility for an active and healthy lifestyle?
  4. How do we structure our economy to ensure our children inherit a resilient future?
  5. How do we strengthen our economic future and achieve sustainable landscapes?
  6. How do we attract and retain the brightest minds and ideas where they are most needed and capitalise on global opportunities?

The question “How do we empower and educate individuals, communities and institutions to embrace responsibility for an active and healthy lifestyle?” made me think of my old life back in Blighty developing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating active school travel. I loved it. No two days were ever the same and I saw real people, in real places make real fundamental changes to their travel behaviour and that’s why I scrambled through my hard drive library to find this ‘Recipe for Success’ blog (below) first published way back in 2002!

We have 1230 State Schools here in Queensland and a million opportunities.

I’d say our future here in Queensland is bright and our future will be very active.


Active School Travel Plan’s. Cooking up a recipe for success

Well, it’s like making a cake really, some of us would add cherries to the mixture, other sultana’s, although personally I would go for chocolate every time!  Travel Plans are similar, everyone is on a steep learning curve, all sharing ideas and experiences, we each have our own unique ways and styles of implementing plans but are all striving for the icing on the cake – a successful, self-sustaining plan. 

I’m no Nigella or Delia.  In fact I change my mind on my own travel plan ingredients regularly.  But here are a few of ideas I have prepared for cooking up a victory.


  • A handful of champions
  • Mix with a few pounds of commitment
  • Add several kilos of inspiration
  • Bags of enthusiasm
  • Add a good serving of motivation
  • Garnish with a sense of humour!

If there is one thing that I have learnt it is that no two schools are the same and no two problems require a similar solution. Here is my own personal step-by-step guide for cooking up a success… Try it, test it, mix it with your own ingredients and most importantly share it with others!

1. Find a suitable school.  Enthusiasm, motivation and commitment are all crucial ingredients

2. Form a working party.  Mix in Governors, the Head Teacher, parents, pupils and staff.  Add a Police Officer, School Crossing Patrol and Road Safety Officer for good measure.

3. Visit your school.  Explain your recipe of success to the working party. Mix with pupils with a ‘hands up’ travel survey to sieve out those who are currently sustainable. Gather together all pupil postcodes (for GIS postcode maps), audit the site for facilities and walk the local area to assess initial problems. Produce a visit 1 report setting out your plans blended with a colourful pupil postcode plot map.

4. Conduct a travel survey.  Either a  ‘hands-up’ survey, paper questionnaire or use Young Transnet, dependent on utensils and time available.  Analyse and report the results in a jolly newsletter for the wider school community to savour.

5. Get their taste buds tingling… Explain the Travel Plan process in a full school assembly, launch ‘WOW – Walk On Wednesdays’ and an ‘Adopt your feet for one week so you can Plan 4 Real’  © campaign.

6. Mix in a ‘Plan 4 Real’ © day.  Organise all your ingredients into groups, walk the school site and local area and gather back at school to work in groups identifying key issues, objectives and actions to pursue. Garnish with displays, maps and aerial photos.

7. Cook up a similar activity for parents and residents in the evening.  Allow them to take ownership by getting them into small groups to prepare a draft Travel Plan by providing workshop worksheets. Just add wine for a fuller flavour!

8. Blend in the local environment and a Highways Engineer. Take a number of parents, the Head Teacher and a Highways Engineer and walk all the routes to school.  Provide the Engineer with a (empty) pushchair, double buggy or pram, then stand back and all enjoy the moment watching him (or her) struggle manoeuvring around bollards, dodging cars on busy roads and battling uneven narrow pavements.   

9. Produce a newsletter for pupils, parents and staff just so everyone know what is quietly simmering away.

10. Gather the working party together. Spend the day reviewing the problems, identifying the solutions and setting targets then blend into a draft Travel Plan.

11. When everyone is happy produce the final Travel Plan

12. Turn up the heat and let the plan go off with a bang… Launch your plan with a celebratory day at school. Invite the media, write a song, have a bike race or get everyone to walk as far as they can.

13. Health warning: Beware during this process you are likely to contract nits, measles and various strains of a runny nose!

14. Ice the cake with a slogan…  like my own concoction ‘wake up and work out on your way to school’ ©

Finally. Sit back and relax with a cup of tea – but keep your apron on … there are lots of hungry schools!!

What do you think?

This opinion piece was first published in the UK in the Journal of Road Safety in August 2002