School requires helmets on journey to school

iviehoff
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School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby iviehoff » 10 Sep 2017, 11:56am

I've put this here, not in the helmet forum, because of the similar recent topic on an employer doing the same. Please keep the discussion to matters that keep it out of the helmet forum.

My daughter has just started at secondary school (generally believed a very excellent school) and, would you know, in the first week we get this email from the school Nazi saying that they do encourage cycling to school, but the following is now a school rule (I paraphrase):

- A student entering or attempting to leave the school by bicycle and not in possession of a helmet will have the bicycle confiscated until they are in possession of a helmet.

It is relevant to note that the school has no other rules in this area. There is no rule preventing the student departing on bicycle if it is not in a legal condition to ride - for example does not have working and effective lights when conditions demand, or if bicycle has ineffective brakes, or is otherwise mechanically unsafe, etc. (Nor are they enforcing the other common obsession, Hi-Viz clothing.)

I would in principle actually support a rule preventing departure if the bicycle was not in a legal condition to ride, if they proposed that, because that is actually illegal. But at the same I think it is probably impractical for the school to be able to take responsibility for such things, because you can't tell at a glance if a bike is in a legal condition to ride.

I suspect that it is therefore legally foolish to have taken on this helmet rule, because there is a risk that the school has now admitted a responsibility for ensuring that students leave with their bicycles in safe condition, but the school is actually in no position to assess that. I also wonder if it also implies similar responsibility for students leaving on foot- maybe they also should have arrangements to reduce the risk of accidents for pedestrians given that the fatality rate per mile for pedestrian mode is actually higher than for cyclists in the most recent DfT data. I am also in general suspicious of the legality of impounding a student's property, given the student proposes to use it in legal manner that has no effect on the conduct of school business.

My daughter having only just joined the school, I am unaware if there has been any consultation on-going over the introduction of this rule last academic year, or whether they have any legal advice this is a good idea, though I am trying to find this out.

This isn't actually going to affect us, because it isn't actually practice for my daughter to cycle there. But clearly there are important principles.

slowster
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby slowster » 10 Sep 2017, 1:16pm

It certainly sounds like shallow, superficial and lazy thinking, where (in the minds of the persons concerned at the school) cycle safety and/or the extent to which the school has some responsibility for it has become reduced to wearing (or possessing) a helmet.

I think it's useful sometimes to compare the different approaches of road safety and work related safety, because they can throw an interesting light on the attitudes and approaches of those involved in road safety in any capacity, whether as a planner, policy maker or user.

In this case, I am reminded of the construction industry which has long had one of the worst safety records of any major industry. Although to a significant extent this reflected the inherent higher risks of the industry, it also used to reflect a similar flawed mindset of the senior people in the industry, who were the ones in a position to take decisions which determined and influenced safety. Put simply, many of them resisted the introduction of the risk assessment based approach: they preferred having a simple checklist of things which once completed allowed them to consider themselves absolved from any further responsibility (or legal liability). Unsurprisingly personal protective equipment, including helmets, featured heavily in this approach.

However, the construction industry was forced by legislation and court decisions to recognise that PPE is a last resort, and there is a great deal else that needs to be done first before placing reliance on it. Probably one of the biggest changes to come out of the risk assessment based approach, is the much greater focus on safety related training in the construction industry, such that many workers will not be able even to get onto a site unless they have evidence of the relevant safety training accreditation, such as a CSCS card.

So, rather than complain about the requirement to have a helmet in their possession when entering school, I would instead say to the school that that sounds like a good idea, but ask what are they doing to ensure that pupils are riding safely, since the helmet is an absolute last resort. Dangerous cycling by the pupils on the road or on the pavement may put others at risk and bring the school into disrepute. Obviously there are limits to the school's ability to police such behaviour, but one thing it could do to protect its pupils, itself and other road/pavement users, would be to require that the pupils undertake a suitable training course.

So I would be using this as an opportunity to call upon the school to run Bikeability courses for all pupils who cycle to school.

Psamathe
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby Psamathe » 10 Sep 2017, 1:27pm

I would refer this to Cycling UK. Seems something they should be helping sort out. Important to stop things as once a few have implemented this it becomes harder to stop more, other schools think they might be blamed for failure in their "Duty of Care" so implement it and suddenly we have compulsory helmets.

I'd expect Cycling UK would like to "nip this in the bud" stage.

Ian

reohn2
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby reohn2 » 10 Sep 2017, 1:29pm

I would challenge the school's ruling,is it legal to demand a student has a helmet if they ride their bike to and from school?
Alternatively I'd buy my daughter the cheapest helmet and lock it to the handlebars in defiance at the stupidity of such a ruling,as it clearly states in the email that she need only be 'in possesion' and mentions nothing about wearing a helmet.
Nazi is a good term for such dictatorships,one of my granddaughter's school unifrom stipulation is nothing short of ridiculous,especially for poorer families,it is so stict and exacting in its demands :twisted:
Last edited by reohn2 on 10 Sep 2017, 1:45pm, edited 1 time in total.
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gaz
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby gaz » 10 Sep 2017, 1:37pm

Previous thread that has useful information for challenging such policies: viewtopic.php?f=41&t=80545
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Psamathe
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby Psamathe » 10 Sep 2017, 1:38pm

reohn2 wrote:I would challenge the school's ruling,ismit legal to demand a student has a helmet if they ride their bike to and from school?
.....

My interpretation is that they have been clever in their wording in that they have said "A student entering or attempting to leave the school by bicycle and not in possession of a helmet ..."
So their rule only relates to the school grounds and does not require wearing of helmet, just being in possession of one. so you can't even argue about them demonstrating improved safety from helmet wearing as they are not requiring students to wear the helmet.

But that's my interpretation of their rule.

Ian

reohn2
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby reohn2 » 10 Sep 2017, 1:47pm

Psamathe wrote:
reohn2 wrote:I would challenge the school's ruling,ismit legal to demand a student has a helmet if they ride their bike to and from school?
.....

My interpretation is that they have been clever in their wording in that they have said "A student entering or attempting to leave the school by bicycle and not in possession of a helmet ..."
So their rule only relates to the school grounds and does not require wearing of helmet, just being in possession of one. so you can't even argue about them demonstrating improved safety from helmet wearing as they are not requiring students to wear the helmet.

But that's my interpretation of their rule.

Ian

Good point and quite possibly that is their intention :? :evil:
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thirdcrank
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby thirdcrank » 10 Sep 2017, 1:59pm

iviehoff wrote:... Please keep the discussion to matters that keep it out of the helmet forum. ... .


We must surely have some teachers, perhaps head teachers on here who might have some insight. I suspect that some of what's being imposed here is part of the in loco parentis principle. I couldn't define the legal limits of that here, but something like confiscating the bike is just what a parent would do if their child had not complied with their rules. Schools obviously have some sort of duty of care for children "when the bell rings" (for those who remember the Bash Street Kids.) This is proportionate to the age of the child but around here, primary school children are not let out to go home except into the care of an identified adult. etc. I think there may also be some sort of reputation thing ie not bringing discredit on the school when identifiably a pupil eg in uniform. (I'm concentrating on the bit I've quoted here.) There were fewer restraints on the activities of teachers when I was at primary school but I remember somebody getting a severe caning in front of the whole school for breaking a window at nearby premises in school uniform. (It impressed me enough for the name of the long-demolished premises to stick with me: Marston Excelsior.)

There are amateur lawyers everywhere and they may simply believe what they are doing is within their remit when it may not be. One primary school near here has disclaimers displayed which I know have no legal force and simply confirm that they are aware of the risk that they are trying to avoid responsibility for.
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PS: Two aspects of this. The first concerns the duty of a school to regulate the conduct of pupils off the premises eg for safety reasons and its powers to do so. The second is whether insisting on helmets is daft/ eminent common sense, which is a discussion for the helmet sub-forum. I've tried to restrict this to the first
Last edited by thirdcrank on 10 Sep 2017, 2:47pm, edited 1 time in total.

iviehoff
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby iviehoff » 10 Sep 2017, 2:26pm

Psamathe wrote:
reohn2 wrote:I would challenge the school's ruling,ismit legal to demand a student has a helmet if they ride their bike to and from school?
.....

My interpretation is that they have been clever in their wording in that they have said "A student entering or attempting to leave the school by bicycle and not in possession of a helmet ..."
So their rule only relates to the school grounds and does not require wearing of helmet, just being in possession of one. so you can't even argue about them demonstrating improved safety from helmet wearing as they are not requiring students to wear the helmet.

Fortunately they understand that their jurisdiction ends at the school gate. It's a good school, they aren't daft. They realise once you have forced someone to be in possession of a helmet, you have won most of the battle. On your head is the easiest place to carry it.

I've just been informed that there was an incident last school year when a couple of students on bicycles were hit by a car, so there has been some recent debate about the safety of cycling to school.

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gaz
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby gaz » 10 Sep 2017, 2:47pm

The 2005 National Children's Bureau report is another useful source: http://www.cycle-helmets.com/cyclingreport_timgill.pdf
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Pete Owens
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby Pete Owens » 10 Sep 2017, 11:24pm

iviehoff wrote:I've just been informed that there was an incident last school year when a couple of students on bicycles were hit by a car, so there has been some recent debate about the safety of cycling to school.

Surely confiscating the car would have been the appropriate response.

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The utility cyclist
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby The utility cyclist » 11 Sep 2017, 1:18am

Write to the school and state that you and your child will not be bullied with a dictatorship of unreasonable rules that the local authority have not authorised nor cleared with county hall nor national government and is not UK law.
Their rule is bias against children on bicycles in that the same rules (of supposed safety) are not applied to other children OR the employees or the parents entering and leaving the premises of the school.

Also remind them that confiscation of the bicycle is unlawful (confiscation should be on the basis of a prohibted item as per Dept for Edu paper published 14/02/2014) and will be considered theft and reported to the police as such, it also contravenes article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, a right to personal freedoms (that are not contrary to law). It is not just or reasonable to breach this right on the basis of no evidence and no existing law regarding such to force pupils to be attired with a helmet nor take personal property that in itself is not prohibited nor endangers the pupil or others over and above any other vehicle on the premises (such as a motorvehicle which by definition must be confiscated post-haste due to the known outcomes from such)
Taking of personal property from a pupil not only breaches their human right and is against government policy it would likely result in a common assault, inducing fear into the mind of a person. a minor at that.

There is nothing reasonable in this whatsoever.
heavy handed tactics such as this need to be met with robust responses.

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Tigerbiten
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby Tigerbiten » 11 Sep 2017, 3:59am

My thinking is that if the school does confiscate the bike, then the school takes on the responsibility of getting that child to and from school.
I'd enquire how they are going to do that.

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Wanlock Dod
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby Wanlock Dod » 11 Sep 2017, 7:57am

I would certainly recommend submitting an FOI enquiry regarding the causes of head injuries at the school. I would be inclined to ask this of both the school and the wider Local Education Authority (or whatever it is) of all schools.

Being in possession of the facts regarding what causes those head injuries that the school might reasonably be able to help to prevent is surely a good starting point.

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pjclinch
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Re: School requires helmets on journey to school

Postby pjclinch » 11 Sep 2017, 8:33am

Good stuff above, I'd also point them to the very specific recommendation in the Get Britain Cycling report, viz:

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.


The Goodwin Report was produced for the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group inquiry of 2013 and was widely welcomed across the political spectrum (excepting, of course, the government grasping the need for strong political leadership and money, but that's another story). It was based on 6 weeks of expert evidence given to the APPCG.

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