School trying to make helmets compulsory

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DaveMcK
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School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby DaveMcK » 9 Oct 2017, 11:34am

My son's secondary school is trying to force all cycling students to wear a helmet. As of next half-term, anyone riding to school without one will have their bicycle confiscated and locked up until they produce a helmet.

There are about 1,500 students at the school, and currently a healthy number cycle (although I don't know what proportion are helmet wearers). I think this rule will have a detrimental effect on that number and the overall health of students.

I'm not even sure if the school's threatened action is legal. Any advice?

Stevek76
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby Stevek76 » 9 Oct 2017, 12:31pm

DaveMcK wrote:I'm not even sure if the school's threatened action is legal. Any advice?


Well the confiscating the bike part seems dubious in that regard.

Do they require head protection for PE activities, and probably lunchtime games as well? Also anyone travelling to school by car should likely also be wearing a helmet given the risks of head injury are similar.

Obviously all the kids should just stay indoors, get fat and die of obesity complications instead. :roll:

Zanda
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby Zanda » 9 Oct 2017, 12:36pm

I think you should contact the CyclingUK campaigning team about this. Here are the contact details. Email would probably be best.

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pjclinch
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby pjclinch » 9 Oct 2017, 12:54pm

First step is draw their attention to the very well received Get Britain Cycling report, produced by the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group enquiry of 2013 and based on 6 weeks of expert evidence.

Specifically, page 59:

4.2 Schools, colleges and employers alike should be incentivised to promote cycling for their pupils and work-forces respectively, e.g. through bike to school and bike to work initiatives (see also 4.6 and 4.9 - 4.10). They should be encouraged to work with local authorities and others to improve cycle access, cycle parking, and facilities such as lockers and showers – with funding made available to support this. They should not simply seek to ban or restrict cycle use, or to impose helmet rules – these are not only misguided in terms of health and safety, but may also be illegal.


When presenting this sort of thing it is important to give the folk on the other side space to be wrong gracefully. You understand they have the best interests of the young people in their care at heart, and after all the Highway Code has said you should wear a helmet since 1993, but it turns out that more recent evidence suggests it's not that simple: look at this report from Parliament from 2013 giving specific best-practice guidance...

Pete.
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DaveMcK
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby DaveMcK » 9 Oct 2017, 4:52pm

Thanks all. I've fired off some emails and will let you know the upshot.

thirdcrank
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby thirdcrank » 9 Oct 2017, 5:50pm

We did have another broadly similar thread only last month.

viewtopic.php?p=1162354#p1162354

You may find it useful.

DaveMcK
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby DaveMcK » 10 Oct 2017, 10:09am

OK, I got a response this morning. Looks like we've got a fight on our hands.

----
Many thanks for your e mail and feedback. Although we appreciate that cycle helmets are not a guarantee of road safety, we feel that anything we can do to reduce risk to our students is a valuable measure. Our policy will also include road worthiness of bicycles and road safety awareness, which will be detailed in the letter coming out to parents shortly. We also have a number of programmes coming up to educate our students on road safety to show them why we feel these changes are so important. In the last half term alone we have had three RTC’s involving our students and feel that the situation is becoming a serious safeguarding concern. Our policy is falling in line with other local secondary schools and has the support of our local policing team. Our intention is purely to make sure our young people are cycling sensibly and safely rather than as a punitive sanction.

Students who bring bikes to school without a helmet will be able to take them home once they return to school with a helmet or, parents / carers will be free to collect them after school if they prefer. We will however not be allowing any child to cycle away from school without a helmet on.

I would be happy to talk this through with you in more detail if you would like to come in for a chat.
----

Wanlock Dod
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby Wanlock Dod » 10 Oct 2017, 1:19pm

Headmaster wrote:...In the last half term alone we have had three RTC’s involving our students...

Did any of these involve cycling? Did any of them involve head injuries? Were the students considered to be at fault in any of the cases?

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[XAP]Bob
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby [XAP]Bob » 10 Oct 2017, 1:25pm

DaveMcK wrote:OK, I got a response this morning. Looks like we've got a fight on our hands.

----
Many thanks for your e mail and feedback. Although we appreciate that cycle helmets are not a guarantee of road safety, we feel that anything we can do to reduce risk to our students is a valuable measure. Our policy will also include road worthiness of bicycles and road safety awareness, which will be detailed in the letter coming out to parents shortly. We also have a number of programmes coming up to educate our students on road safety to show them why we feel these changes are so important. In the last half term alone we have had three RTC’s involving our students and feel that the situation is becoming a serious safeguarding concern. Our policy is falling in line with other local secondary schools and has the support of our local policing team. Our intention is purely to make sure our young people are cycling sensibly and safely rather than as a punitive sanction.

Students who bring bikes to school without a helmet will be able to take them home once they return to school with a helmet or, parents / carers will be free to collect them after school if they prefer. We will however not be allowing any child to cycle away from school without a helmet on.

I would be happy to talk this through with you in more detail if you would like to come in for a chat.
----


I'd be really interested in the RTCs - I suspect they'd be better off talking to parents about their driving than students about anything.

Of course whilst walking into the room you should be wearing a magic hat... 'Asking for a friend' what would they do about a Sikh?
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pjclinch
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby pjclinch » 10 Oct 2017, 1:53pm

The CUK Campaigning team well worth getting in touch with, but start with the existing briefing.

At said talk-through I would, at the very least, want to know by what powers the school would be prohibiting students cycling away from the school on a public road without a crash helmet. I suspect they're playing fast and loose with the law, which I would not think is setting a good example!

Our intention is purely to make sure our young people are cycling sensibly and safely


There is, as it happens, a nationally approved scheme from the DfT for this very thing. Bikeability (or Bikeability Scotland up here) is based on the DfT's own National Standards for Cycle Training, and you can find the various outcomes for the NSCT on the UK Government website https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-standard-for-cycle-training-outcomes.

The pertinent ones are the 3 levels, and the only mention of crash helmets you'll find are in Level 1, specifically the first outcome where it notes:

Trainees wearing a helmet should understand how to fit and adjust it.


And that's it. That is everything the National Standards outcomes have to say about helmets.

Police are usually keen on quoting the Highway Code which says you should wear a helmet. If you ask the DfT why they'll send you the 2002 Towner Report, which concludes it's been shown helmets help, but it's been pretty thoroughly hauled over the coals in having a very limited range of references limited to non-randomised case-control studies, many of the problems of which are highlighted in Goldacre and Spiegelhalter's BMJ editorial and in Gill's discussion of helmets in Cycling and Children and Young People Towner's report is given at least as much weight as it deserves and the author still concludes (despite wearing a helmet himself) that the policy case (as opposed to personal choice) for even recommending them has not been properly made.

Plus the Goodwin Report I've already noted, where the specific best practice recommendation is exactly not what the school are doing.

This is all good ammo, but try and get a good grasp of it before going in and remember that the best way of getting what you want is to make sure everyone thinks they're on the same side. You want what they want, the decisions they have made make sense in the light of the limited evidence they have, but you have better and more up to date evidence that can better inform the choice made.

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pjclinch
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby pjclinch » 10 Oct 2017, 2:03pm

[XAP]Bob wrote:Of course whilst walking into the room you should be wearing a magic hat... 'Asking for a friend' what would they do about a Sikh?


This is an interesting illustration of the absurdity of it all. If I'm running a Go Ride sport coaching session for British/Scottish Cycling everyone has to wear helmets, except medical and religious exemptions (Sikhs are a specific example). If such exceptions do turn up I can still run the session as long as I risk-assess it to be safe enough for them.
So me being Awkward, I ask BC why I can't just do that anyway for anyone without a lid, and they went for variously passing the buck and ignoring me but this was on the back of an answer I'd made in my L2 coaching assessment they did ultimately feel obliged to take it on, and after much arm waving it appeared to come down pretty much to ease of getting insurance cover.

Pete.
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Stevek76
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby Stevek76 » 10 Oct 2017, 2:25pm

Setting up a religion involving a rule that no hats may be worn (interferes with the brains exposure to the heavens or some such) seems the answer then. :?

Psamathe
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby Psamathe » 10 Oct 2017, 2:57pm

pjclinch wrote:......
At said talk-through I would, at the very least, want to know by what powers the school would be prohibiting students cycling away from the school on a public road without a crash helmet. I suspect they're playing fast and loose with the law, which I would not think is setting a good example!
.....

(Not having kids and not having any involvement with schools I'm wondering here but) what powers do schools have over children and parents wishes outside school hours and/or outside school premises. I can see they might be within their (legal) rights to require certain things from children whilst on school premises so, ignoring justification I can see they could say children must not ride a bike without a helmet on school premises but I assume a child could then walk pushing their bike. Similarly, during school hours when the child in in effect under their duty of care I can see they might have a right to require a helmet (ignoring the justification/lack or justification) But what powers does a school have once the child and bike have passed outside the school premises?

I'd certainly be fighting things like this and I'd be expecting the CTC/CUK to be getting involved as it seems something starting to happen (e.g. from the previous thread referenced above). So definitely time for the CTC/CUK to start getting involved to "nip this in the bud".

Ian

Psamathe
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby Psamathe » 10 Oct 2017, 3:02pm

pjclinch wrote:.....
So me being Awkward, I ask BC why I can't just do that anyway for anyone without a lid, and they went for variously passing the buck and ignoring me but this was on the back of an answer I'd made in my L2 coaching assessment they did ultimately feel obliged to take it on, and after much arm waving it appeared to come down pretty much to ease of getting insurance cover.
....

Something that seems to be creeping in more and more. I seem to remember CTC/CUK's cycle cover requires riders to wear a helmet (from a thread a couple of months ago).

Although I do wear a helmet (I go through phases), I am unconvinced about their benefit and strongly believe it is a matter for personal choice. It worries me over how it seems to be becoming more and more mandatory for insurance, schools, cycling organisations, loads of reasons. We wont need a law change soon because they will be mandatory for other reasons soon!

Ian

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mjr
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Re: School trying to make helmets compulsory

Postby mjr » 10 Oct 2017, 3:07pm

DaveMcK wrote:OK, I got a response this morning. Looks like we've got a fight on our hands.

----
Many thanks for your e mail and feedback. Although we appreciate that cycle helmets are not a guarantee of road safety, we feel that anything we can do to reduce risk to our students is a valuable measure.

That's great - helmets don't reduce risk in practice (and they won't be able to prove otherwise because the evidence is split) so by their own logic, it is a worthless measure for them to take!

Send them the All-Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's Get Britain Cycling recommendation(s) for schools and ask them to stop discouraging cycling.

Our policy is falling in line with other local secondary schools and has the support of our local policing team.

:roll: <mother>If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you follow them?</mother>

Our intention is purely to make sure our young people are cycling sensibly and safely rather than as a punitive sanction.

I suspect young people are more likely than adults to view a helmet as body armour enabling greater risk-taking but I don't have any evidence to hand for that. And this reads like a punitive sanction:

Students who bring bikes to school without a helmet will be able to take them home once they return to school with a helmet or, parents / carers will be free to collect them after school if they prefer. We will however not be allowing any child to cycle away from school without a helmet on.

What else do they confiscate from students and refuse to return until conditions are met? I doubt there's anything non-punitive.

I hope you enjoy the chat with them. Please don't back down. These fools are endangering children by devoting time and energy to helmet-forcing instead of effective road casualty reduction measures.

Psamathe wrote:I seem to remember CTC/CUK's cycle cover requires riders to wear a helmet (from a thread a couple of months ago).

Only the branded travel insurance, as I understand it. The member liability and ride organiser insurances don't. CUK have simply chosen a bad travel insurance provider which works contrary to their own policies.
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