Since the award-winning FastTracking the Future education program was launched in March 2014, more than 15,000 students have taken part.
The program’s resources were created in conjunction with teachers and educators and were written with links to current syllabuses. It’s modelled on other similar education programs, including for the Snowy Mountains Hydro Electric Scheme.
The Primary and Secondary resources developed for the Sydney Metro Northwest are freely available via the Sydney Metro website to any school in Australia and have more than 130 classroom-ready lessons for teachers for years K-10.
The education program allows teachers to use a major infrastructure project in their own backyard as a real life teaching tool which students are able to easily relate to.
An Education Reference Group was set up to monitor the development of this resource to ensure that it aligned with school curriculum requirements and would meet teachers’ needs and students’ interests.
Teacher representatives from public, independent and Catholic schools along the Sydney Metro Northwest alignment reviewed the program.
The two-volume resource is more than 480 pages long and covers Australia’s biggest public transport project not just from an engineering and construction perspective but also from its impact on the community.
As a teaching resource, it encourages students to use independent thought and come to their own conclusions about the project.
One section explains how the community consultation and Environmental Impact Statement process works and how students can use these processes in their lives to have their say on what affects them in their community – not just the new metro.
The resources are an additional tool teachers can use in the classroom.
FastTracking the Future won the Planning Institute of Australia (NSW) Promotion of Planning Award in November 2014.
Judges said the education program is an: “innovative and important initiative developed specifically for school aged children to engage directly with Australia’s biggest public transport project.
“It ensures that school children have a unique opportunity to participate in the delivery of a major infrastructure project, which will also change their built environment and impact their lives now and into the future.
“The judges believe that this is an excellent model for using an idea or project to implant an interest in children’s minds about planning and what infrastructure means for a city. Hopefully this will lead to many young people from Sydney’s north west considering planning as a career option!”
Additional resources were developed in 2018/19, this time through a professional development program in inquiry-based learning for primary and secondary school teachers near Sydney Metro’s City & Southwest alignment.
The professional development courses were part of a pilot partnership between the Sydney Metro and Western Sydney University. Facilitated by Western Sydney University’s Education Knowledge Network, the professional development program aimed to develop teacher expertise in inquiry-based learning using a real-life example of a major infrastructure project in delivery stage. As a result, 34 teachers from 12 schools participated in the program and more than 900 students have benefited from their lessons. Through the professional development, teachers, created, trialled and peer reviewed inquiry units which have subsequently been published by the NSW Department of Education and made available to all teachers through Scootle. In November 2020, this partnership was recognised and highly commended by the Planning Institute of Australia (NSW) for Cutting Edge Research and Education.
As at June 30, 2020, 50 presentations have been attended by 4,880 students; 23 school excursions have been attended by 2,711 students. 5,410 students have participated the school holiday program.
Media reporting of the cost of the project has been inaccurate. Since July 1, 2014, the program has cost $549,127, (as at June 30, 2019. 2014/15: $50,305; 2015/16: $134,095; 2016/17: $154,195; 2017/18 $102,866; 2018/19 $107,666).