Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

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stork
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Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

Post by stork »

As a parent in Norfolk, I would like to see Bikeability provided in Norfolk's schools, rather than the current Norfolk County Council training (which is quite significantly different from, and in my view inferior to, Bikeability in several respects). I am looking for advice and help in making this happen, and any suggestions would be welcome.

Although NCC do not provide Bikeability, and currently appear to have no intention of doing so, they have also indicated that they have no objection in principle to Bikeability being provided in their Schools as an alternative or complement to their own training.

I have spoken to the head teacher at my local school, and to the governors, and they have indicated that they would be supportive of a move to Bikeability. However, quite understandably (given that there is currently no charge to them for the NCC training), they would want any Bikeability scheme to be 'free, local and sustainable'.

I am aware that DfT provides some funding for Bikeability schemes, but I am also aware that this is only guaranteed to exist until 2015. I also suspect that it would not be sufficient to fund Bikeability for the whole County, and I am not clear as to what sorts of organisations are entitled to bid for the funding. Who should I approach to find out more about this funding? And has anyone successfully used other sources of funding (other than the Highway Authority itself) for a scheme?

I am not sure whether there are any/many Bikeability instructors in or around my area (King's Lynn) or willing to work in the area. I'd welcome any volunteers to help put together a scheme.

Realistically, I guess that a sensible way forward would be to try to put together something on a small scale first, for example covering just a small group of schools (e.g. the 'cluster', of which my local school is a member), and perhaps for a limited number of trainees. If this can be offered as a complement to the NCC training, rather than outright replacement, it partly addresses the sustainability issue, as there is then the perceived 'safety net' of falling back on the NCC training.

The 'free' part is maybe the hardest one to crack, although I guess that this may become less of an issue if the NCC scheme becomes chargeable at some point in the future (which would be in line with NCC's overall 'direction'), and/or if the schools in question take on academy status and devolved budgets.
John Holiday
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Re: Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

Post by John Holiday »

In Wales the Welsh Assembly cover the cost of training provision in schools via the Local Authorities.
I suggest that you contact Greg Woodford CTC Training Officer who will no doubt be familiar with what the funding pattern is in England & how this may be accessed.
Alternatively you could contact one of the training agencies e.g.Cycle Experience to ask their advice.
Good luck.
stork
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Re: Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

Post by stork »

Well, I'm not quite sure how this came about (maybe with the help of the School Sports Partnership), but my local school has started offering Bikeability for year 5/6 children instead of Norfolk County Council training.

Meanwhile, NCC have reviewed their training manuals, although I understand from them that they had no intention of removing or changing the worst bits (e.g. the 60cm rule). However, the manuals are no longer published on their website, so I haven't yet seen the revised versions.

Still, positive progress. Maybe in the face of the huge cuts it has to make, NCC will start to see the merit of using Government Bikeability funding. Or at least charging schools for its inferior training which is currently competing unfairly against proper training.
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pjclinch
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Re: Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

Post by pjclinch »

Enlighten me... what is "the 60cm rule"?

Oh, hang on, Google has just told me. Deary me.

Note the title of this forum is "National Standards Cycle Training". Bikeability is a compliant scheme but not the only one (for example, Bikeability Scotland is another, but it's not just Bikeability with added Saltire, it is a different scheme that's jumping on a successful bandwagon for its brand awareness), so it's probably worth getting on at NCC to see if their scheme is NS compliant, and if not then why not? The point of it being a National Standard is everywhere in the UK should comply with it.

And if they're still playing with absolute positioning I'd say the chances are it's not.

Don't forget councils are not only composed of entrenched bureaucracies, but also of democratically elected councillors who are there to represent and help you. So do get in touch with your councillor: if mine is anything to go by they'll be happy to push for improvements in local provision where "the council" might just want to just tick some boxes.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...
stork
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Re: Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

Post by stork »

The 60cm rule:

"When it is safe, release the brakes and move off onto a safe line about 60cm from the kerb or verge"

That is NCC's description of the safe start and subsequent normal riding position. The full manuals are here:

http://www.norfolk.gov.uk/Travel_and_transport/Road_safety/Road_safety_education/Leaflets_and_resources/index.htm

They also includes such gems as positioning yourself in the gutter (i.e. with your foot on the kerb) when executing a left turn out of a minor road.

The scheme is absolutely not compliant with the National Standard. I've asked why not and, in short, the explanation is as follows.

They say that some year 5/6 children would not be able to understand or apply National Standard positioning. They also say that all children must be taught the same. Therefore, the only option, as they see it, is to teach something other than National Standard -- basically the old cycling proficiency.

If my children don't have enough awareness/road sense by year 5/6 to learn Bikeability, they will not be riding alone on the roads at all. They certainly won't be taught the sort of rubbish that the County Council thinks is acceptable.

I have spoken to my councillors. The first one simply ignored everything I sent him, even though he was a cyclist himself. For other reasons, he decided not to seek re-election, and I am hoping for better from his successor. However, early signs are not particularly promising as I've been waiting a couple of months for a substantive reply.
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mjr
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Re: Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

Post by mjr »

I flamed the Norfolk Road Safety Partnership in public about their provision of the Norfolk cycle training instead of something safe... and eventually I got into an email discussion. I was told that they had discussed linking the Norfolk scheme to the national model and the reviewer "had no issue, but was going to refer the matter back to DfT. As yet I have had no response from them."

I suspect the non-response is because they're not sure how to say "no" politely.

I'll be moving this forwards again as soon as I make time. PM me if you'd like to be cc'd or bcc'd on the emails.
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.
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pjclinch
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Re: Providing Bikeability in Norfolk schools

Post by pjclinch »

stork wrote:They say that some year 5/6 children would not be able to understand or apply National Standard positioning. They also say that all children must be taught the same. Therefore, the only option, as they see it, is to teach something other than National Standard -- basically the old cycling proficiency.


Blimey. Sounds like they need to go shopping at Clues'R'Us.

The way the Scottish scheme is set up is that the basics at level 2 are taught initially as drills, and that's how they're largely presented in the cyclists' literature. However, the trainer's guide and the training itself allows rather more discretionary input where it's felt it can be appreciated, so all children have the same basic teaching materials available to them, and the same course syllabus, but there's still room to treat kids with fundamentally better understanding according to what they can do. It is also the case that stuff like positioning can be developed as one goes along, so the very first "getting going" lesson on a blank, quiet street is actually fine at 60 cm out, but as you progress beyond starting and stopping you'll introduce more advanced positioning concepts. There is also discussion of positioning in the Cyclist's Guide, which will of course be routinely ignored by many of the participants and/or made in to paper aeroplanes etc., but it is there for those that bother looking.

Marking for the scheme is a traffic-light setup, where for each of the marked aspects if you've got it really well you get green, if you could only manage stuff as drills you'd get an amber and explanatory notes, and if you shouldn't be let loose on the roads you'll get a red with notes.

One wonders if Y5/6 children in Norfolk capable of adding awkward fractions together are limited to nothing trickier than halves and quarters because they must be taught the same as their less mathematically able peers, or if all spelling in the county is at the level of those unfortunate enough to be dyslexic? Teaching safety with a restrictive lowest common denominator is so fantastically dopey that it really emphasizes that you can't underestimate the power of human stupidity.

Good luck with getting somewhere with this. It's thanks to awkward [rude word removed] like ourselves that a lot of things actually end up happening.

Pete.
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...
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