Bikeability training

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joaniebooth
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Bikeability training

Postby joaniebooth » 8 Jul 2012, 12:01pm

I wonder if anyone else has been in this position. My 10-year old son took part in Level 1 and Level 2 bikeability training at his primary school last week. It was delivered through the local council. He "passed" Level 1 and came home from school on the second day in floods of tears having been told by the instructor he had "failed him at level 2". My son (and his friends who were in the group) reports that at no point was he told to stop any of the manouevres although quite a few of them had to do some manouevres a few times to get them right - as I would expect. He completed everything as every other child did, and was completely unaware that he might have failed. He is a confident cyclist and we cycle a lot as a family. At the end of the day the instructor pulled him out of assembly and said "I'm going to have to fail you. You weren't concentrating and you were doing your own thing". The feedback on the certificate said he wasn't concentrating. I am fully aware of his weaknesses in life and that is definitely one of them (maybe not unusual for a 10-year old boy), but school never report any behavioural problems or that he is in any way disruptive or a danger to himself or anyone else, but the instructor seemed to feel that he was. He was only one of 2 children in 45 who "failed" and we are feeling very confused. The comments on the certificate said that once he improves his concentration he should do fine (although he will not be allowed to resit it). He insists he was never spoken to about any behaviour and was doing the same as everyone else (lining up, taking his turn etc). We feel that he should not have been allowed to continue cycling on the roads if his behaviour was apparently so bad, and my understanding of Level 2 is that he shouldn't have been allowed to progress through the outcomes if he didn't successfully complete previous ones. We have a seriously upset and confused child and are at a loss to explain this to him. If it was something specific that he couldn't do, then we would be able to discuss this constructively with him, but this has left us high and dry. Can anyone give us any guidance/direction/know whether this is normal practice on this course which I thought was supposed to be more about training than pass or fail? :?

xpc316e
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby xpc316e » 10 Jul 2012, 8:55am

I have been in the position of having to 'fail' riders and it is not enviable. His concentration and behaviour are two entirely separate issues - why do you assume that his behaviour was a problem? It may just be that he was able to do the manoeuvres, but not in a confident, consistent and competent manner. The consistency part is often the downfall for children. If his behaviour were bad, I am fairly sure the Instructor in charge would have sent him back to school well before the conclusion of the course.

Bikeability is all about the outcomes being achieved and if they aren't, then Level 2 hasn't been reached. It is inevitable, but some children will not reach the standard in the time available. Many parents rely on the achievement of Level 2 as being the deciding factor in whether their children are allowed to ride to school - how would you feel as an Instructor if you gave a child Level 2 when they did not merit it, and then next week they were involved in a crash when riding alone to school? There has to be a cut-off point somewhere, and it is sad that your boy did not get there. Failure is a fact of life, and children need to get used to it. It will not be many years before your son reaches the age when he can drive - will you expect him to pass just because all the rest of his friends have?
Riding a Dahon Jetstream P9 folder, a Claud Butler Cape Wrath MTB, and the latest acquisition, an early 90s Vision R30 above seat steered recumbent.

John Holiday
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby John Holiday » 10 Jul 2012, 11:53am

Sorry to hear of your son's disappointment.
We occasionaly have to say that children have not achieved a Level 2 standard,which we appreciate may upset some children,but one has to be realistic. Am afraid that we usually find that boys do not seem able to concentrate & take on board what we are explaining,unlike most girls of similar age.
Occasionally we wonder whether we are talking a different language!
Can think of a number of examples where doing 'Right Turns' & most get the positioning correct,but one child pulls across the corner on the wrong side! When asked why they didn't follow instructions - "I forgot"!
Suggest that you ride with your son,with him leading, & get some more practice.Keep a close eye & emphasise the need to concentrate with plenty of 'looking' to check on other traffic. Make sure you adopt the 'Secondary' position one metre from kerb,so that any following traffic has to conciously slow & move round you.
Good luck & safe cycling.

Vorpal
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby Vorpal » 10 Jul 2012, 2:01pm

I have sometimes found that a confident cyclist may actually have more trouble completing everything correctly for level 2, especially if he or she has imperfect concentration. The reason? they can already do everything and don't pay as much attention to the instructors as they need to.

That said, I have never told children that they have 'failed'. Instead, I try to tell them what they have passed, and give them specific feedback about how to improve. I also let them know what to do if they are disappointed if they haven't attained level 2. That may include referring them to some free Bikeability sessions over the summer holidays, referring them to a local cycle club, or recommending private tuition.

The courses are about training, but instructors need to know if the training has been effective, and that requires some sort of practical evaluation.

I have sent students back to school for two reasons during lessons: 1) they simply didn't have the road sense or skills to complete the exercises safely or 2) their behaviour was disruptive

Otherwise, I would prefer to give them as much opportunity as possible to achieve the highest level they can. I don't know what the pass rate is, but I guess, I've had at least a couple of students at each school who went out for level 2 training and didn't obtain level 2 certificates. At a few schools, I've had as high as 60% go out for level 2 training, a go home with only level 1 certificates. That's unsual, but it's easier to cope with than sending someone back in because he or she has done something blatantly unsafe.
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joaniebooth
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby joaniebooth » 10 Jul 2012, 3:14pm

Thanks for all the replies and completely agree that we wouldn't want him to be told he has successfully reached the standard if he weren't safe on the roads. We have had a really productive discussion since this with the person heading up the bikeability scheme at the local council and they have now said it was about the right turns (might be a common one, this, John!) and that he may have clipped the centre line. They have conceded that this has not been handled very well and that they should have indicated this both on the certificate and in their feedback to our son. They have also offered one to one personal tuition free of charge and at our convenience (with a different tutor) to go through this again with him, and be sure he can do it safely. Guess it may be about an individual tutor's style and the circumstances - it was in the torrential rain conditions we had last Friday with flooding on roads and this was close to the end of the day when I would imagine everyone had had enough! The council have changed their policy not to use the expression "fail" but to ensure the process they follow is obviously as you do, Vorpal, and that they give specific feedback on areas children need to improve. Think if that had been the approach in the first place we could have probably avoided all this but now we will move on and get him even safer on the roads! Thanks for all the comments and the tips are useful John - we will be practising!

John Holiday
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby John Holiday » 11 Jul 2012, 1:38pm

Pleased to hear that you have been able to progress matters satisfactorily & that you have arranged additional tuition.
Am sure that will resolve things & enable you to feel more confident about your son riding in traffic.
We usually try to encourage participation at Level 1 & 2 from Year Five (9 & 10 year olds), so that if they do have any problems they can have another go at it in their final year,as well as an opportunity to put it all in to practice by riding to school.

vanorak
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby vanorak » 14 Apr 2013, 12:34am

First and foremost, I'm sorry to hear of your son's disappointment. Having worked full-time as a Bikeability instructor for over 6 years, I can honestly say that an instructor will do his/her utmost to ensure participants undergo the road-based element of the training, provided they have demonstrated the necessary skills during the Level 1 assessment.This aspect of the course is as much to do with establishing ground rules and building rapport, as it is an assessment of the trainee's cycling skills. Contrary to popular belief, Bikeability is not a pass or fail process, so for an instructor to "fail" a trainee following completion of all the outcomes is perhaps a little harsh. However, if a participant consistently fails to demonstrate sufficient concentration, is consistently disruptive, or behaves in such a way as to endanger themselves or others at any time during the training, a reprimand at the time would be a more appropriate response, with a warning that continued misbehaviour will result in the trainee in question being taken back to school. Such a threat is often all that is required to bring an errant trainee into line. As any parent knows, failure to stand by your promise, following repeated warnings, is counter-productive, despite the fact that this impacts upon the rest of the group temporarily.
I have faced this situation on many occasions...the bottom line is that an instructor is in Loco Parentis; you have a duty of care for all participants in a dynamic, and potentially harmful, environment. Your son's lack of concentration is not a reason to "fail" the training, but must be considered in light of his safety, and whether it will compromise the experience of others in the group. Personally, assuming he had completed all the outcomes in line with the National Standard, I would award him a Level 2 but would also take time to discuss the issue with him, with his teacher or headmaster/mistress present to emphasize the gravitas of the situation.

As a post script, supposing your son came home sporting his Level 2 badge, proudly waving his certificate in the air, you may presume he has the necessary skills, knowledge and awareness to undertake road journeys unaccompanied, as attested to by an accredited cycling instructor. If said instructor has witnessed evidence to the contrary, wouldn't you want to know?

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pjclinch
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby pjclinch » 23 Apr 2013, 10:25am

Vorpal wrote:I have sometimes found that a confident cyclist may actually have more trouble completing everything correctly for level 2, especially if he or she has imperfect concentration. The reason? they can already do everything and don't pay as much attention to the instructors as they need to.


It is certainly the case that my everyday cycling would not get me passed. The course requires me to demonstrate "lowest common denominator" techniques for a good reason ("do these and you should always be okay"), but in my day to day riding I don't. I'll not signal if there's nobody there, but even if there's nobody there I can only assess a child's competence at signalling if they signal. And so on.

Vorpal wrote:That said, I have never told children that they have 'failed'. Instead, I try to tell them what they have passed, and give them specific feedback about how to improve. I also let them know what to do if they are disappointed if they haven't attained level 2. That may include referring them to some free Bikeability sessions over the summer holidays, referring them to a local cycle club, or recommending private tuition.


Bikeability Scotland is following the Scottish school's "Curriculum for Excellence" assessment technique of giving red, amber or green traffic lights, plus comments, to individual assessment points. So everyone "passes" in as much as they get a piece of paper, but the piece of paper has further info which the parents will find useful. So if right turns have an Amber light and comments about positioning the parent will know how to follow up. If there's a Red on observation and a comment that the child is not safe on the roads alone then again, that will be useful info.
That's far better, IMHO, than a piece of paper saying "you've passed", because Bikeability is taught and assessed in a contrived environment that doesn't necessarily bear much relation to a lot of roads that might be used in actually getting useful places in a child's neighbourhood. Teaching on the roads is better than in a playground and is far more "real" for that, but they're nice, risk-assessed quiet roads with a big, easy to see group and a trained instructor plus assistants on hand, and anything that might prevent an idea of "I've passed, I know it all" is a Good Thing.

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mattieb1972
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby mattieb1972 » 14 Feb 2014, 9:32pm

I was just after some advice and opinions. My 10 year old boys undertook bikeability this week. They had already undertaken this course last year and only obtained level 1. The course was arranged by the schools and it was over 5 days, 1 hour per day. On day one they undertook level 1 training, on day 2 they were out on the roads for level 2 training, day 3 they were unable to go out due to extremely bad weather and they did theory training inside, day 4 they were out on the roads again. When they got back from this training I asked whether they felt confident at passing to which the response was no. One of my boys had been asked to repeat a maneouvre unsuccessfully a number of times and then the instructor said he had to move on as they were running out of time. Today the school phoned to say bikeability had been cancelled because of the bad weather. When I spoke to my boys after school they told me that they had only be given a level 1 certifcate as if they had undertook the assessment today they wouldn't have expected them to pass. Other children were given level 2 pass and others were told to bring their bikes back to school Monday week to have a final assessment as the instructor still wasn't sure whether they had passed level 2. This seems a bit unfair to me as from what I have read children should spend at least 6 hours on road training and mine only received 2 hours. If the weather had been kinder then they would have had at least 4 hours on road training. Should I take this up with bikeability as from what I understand the whole idea of this course is to try and give children the confidence to cycle on the road - surely some (clearly mine) cannot be expected to achieve this with only 2 hours on road training.

My personal view is that they tried to cram this training into one week without allowing for any bad weather. The fact the instructor said to my son that they had to move on as he didn't have any more time suggests to me that because one day was missed because of bad weather they were trying to get 2 sessions worth done on the next day.

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Si
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby Si » 15 Feb 2014, 12:37pm

I know that this isn't actually what you asked but I feel I should point it out from the get go - The first thing that the instructor has to do is make sure that they do not issue a L2 certificate to a child who they do not think can ride to that standard. Because by issuing the certificate the instructor is telling the parents that the child is safe to ride on quiet roads by themselves.....thus however hard a child tries or however bad the surrounding circumstances are, the instructor will not issue the L2 out of sympathy because it would be dangerous for the child.

Some children pick it up faster than others - sometimes you can have a kid that after road sessions training is good enough to be given a L2. Other kids may take the whole week, and others still just won't make it by the end of the week. Thus, in terms of your child not getting a L2 when others on the course did - I would suggest that there is nothing wrong with this.

Moving onto the other issues. Funding for bikeability is often very thin (depending on where you are). I'm sure that the instructors would really have wanted to give the children a whole week's worth, and would have done all in their powers to do so, but if the money isn't there, and if the instructors have other commitments then sometimes things won't work out as we'd like. So it's a case of getting it all into one week or not doing it at all. It is not the instructors that set the timescales but their employer, which is often the cycling/travel section of the LA/council. This is also why they can only spend so much time on each outcome - if they just run through it until every kid gets it then they will be there for weeks.....and you'll get complaints from other parents that they more able child is being held back.

Regarding bad weather stoppages, I guess every instructor's tolerance varies a bit, but we do try to carry on through the weather, however if the weather gets so bad that either it's dangerous, or the kids are not learning, or the kids are hating being out and thus not learning, then you have to bring them back in. After all you don't want to turn them away from cycling by forcing them to get soaked to the skin and frozen.

That they are coming back and assessing only some of the children does sound a bit odd, but I'm sure that they have reasons for doing this. For instance, it's often possible to tell that some children will not make L2 despite being given an extra session, so if the Monday session is only a quick assessment rather than a teaching session then it would not be worth forcing those children out into the cold and rain. However, the only way to know for sure is to ask the instructors.

Some bikeability schemes invite parents along, or even put on family rides at the end of the week. Others don't, again it's down to money and time. Having parents along can be a bit of a double edged sword - you get the soccer dads who yell (poor) advice from the side lines and are ready to steam in all guns blazing if anyone suggests that their kid is not perfect. On the other hand you get the ones that listen and learn from the process...who can be a joy to work with.

Thus, bearing this in mind, I would suggest that you approach the instructors or LA for an explanation and guidance as to what to do next to help your children, but you do so in a friendly and polite way rather than starting with a complaint, as you'll get better feedback that way (they won't mistake you for an angry soccer dad :wink: )

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Re: Bikeability training

Postby Vorpal » 15 Feb 2014, 2:52pm

I think that most local authorities don't build in time for bad weather. It is possible to go out, as long as it doesn't put the children at risk. I've only cancelled for ice, but poor visibility may also be a reason to cancel. Realistically, though not all children turn up with appropriate clothing. Despite letters home the week before and even previous days classes, I've had kids turn up for Bikeability in 2 degree weather wearing school uniforms, light jackets, and bicycle helmets; no warm shoes, and no gloves or scarves. We did the best we could to keep them moving, but I was worried that the under dressed kids were going to end up with frostbite. Clearly no one could concentrate, so we went back in. We were able to get an extra day out the LA, but that was fairly unusual. And we told the kids second time around that if they weren't dressed appropriately, they weren't going out.

As for the level 2, Si's advice is good. Ask for some specific feedback; what the boys need to improve to get their level 2 certificates.

They may be able to take Bikeability again during the summer. Some councils offer Bikeability sessions during the summer. Summer sessions sometimes have more instruction time, as well.
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mattieb1972
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby mattieb1972 » 15 Feb 2014, 4:05pm

Thank you both for your quick response. I wouldn't really expect the instructors to pass my children if they didn't feel they were confident enough to be on the roads. However, my main gripe is that 2 hours on the roads is surely not enough and I'm sure I've read some guidelines in the bikeability manual that they should receive 4-6 hours on road training.

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Re: Bikeability training

Postby Vorpal » 15 Feb 2014, 4:44pm

Yes, 4 - 6 hours on road training for level 2. Actually if there are more than 4 students per instructor, 6 hours is the guideline minimum number of hours on road instruction.

If you are interested, the course manual is http://bikeability.dft.gov.uk/wp-conten ... _Guide.pdf There is a table on page 7 that outlines the course times.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
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pjclinch
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby pjclinch » 22 Feb 2014, 3:17pm

Bad weather... it's certainly a problem, and has been particularly this year. You can build some slack in to the system depending on your setup, but it has been a particularly horrible winter.

While it's the case that some kids won't turn up in good weatherproof clothing no matter what you say or whatever the forecast, it's also the case that with the best will in the world, and pretty good clothing too, it's pretty miserable doing group work on Bikeability stuff (which is not what you'd call exciting) in pouring rain mixed with cold. And if they're having a miserable time I'd say it's not worth it, because they'll resent being there.

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Si
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Re: Bikeability training

Postby Si » 22 Feb 2014, 3:37pm

Well, one of the L1 outcomes is knowing about safety gear and how to dress - in bad weather I count bad weather clothing as safety gear. So if if they don't have the brain to wear a coat in the cold and rain then fail 'em anyway :lol: :twisted: