This road safety film is known as Gold Star and was produced by the National Road Safety Association in 1980. By then all public information films were shot in colour which was gradually becoming the preferred choice of television set in Ireland. Although we had to wait until the autumn of the following year before ours arrived.
The opening shot features the trendy school bag of the era with the twin snap-locks. A Mustang exercise book is casually tossed in. It contains an English essay.
The theme of horseplay continues with more high jinks on the roadside as they wait for the Bus Scoile. The colour film stock proudly showcases its glorious yellow and white livery. One child veers dangerously into the path of an oncoming vehicle. This causes a stressed motorist to mutter “stupid child” while the sympathetic narrator (Mike Murphy) sticks up for the ten-year-olds. On this occasion the bus driver is calmer than his 1970s colleague and delivers a quick warning to his charges before they board the vehicle.
The key message here is that adults bear the lion’s share of responsibility for road safety. Mike solemnly informs us that when something special happens in a young lad’s day he won’t be able to think about anything else. The camera focuses on a gold star being placed on a copy book. These were a major feature of teaching techniques when I was in second and third class.
So it’s back to the besieged adult as he daydreams at traffic lights:
“They can often be guilty of the same sort of blindness. They don’t remember their own childhood”.
The excited and starred-up boy then crosses the road without paying any heed to the oncoming traffic.
PS – the opposite to a gold star was a red one. A cruel form of negative marking.