Bikeability in schools

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Si
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Bikeability in schools

Post by Si »

I know that we've a bikeability section but thought that this would be of interest to the general readership. Announcement from my local authority:

The Department for Transport has been working with stakeholders in recent months to build on the support that Bikeability already receives from schools around the country. You will be aware that Bikeability does not currently form part of the formal national curriculum for teaching in schools. However for the first time, Bikeability now features as part of the Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) Education Programme of Study under health and wellbeing.


Putting aside whether or not you think doing bikeability in schools is worth while - for me this is good news as it is another indicator that people are taking cycling seriously as a form of well-being. And also we are further promoting cycling to kids.

Likewise, in the same city we are currently training 'Well-Being' staff from the Council run leisure centres as ride leaders so that they can include cycling as one of the health and fitness solutions that they offer their clients (with free to use bikes and free learn to ride sessions for those who need it).

Small steps, granted, but lots of small steps will get you to the same place as a few big strides and there's less chance of groin strain on the way.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by admin »

That's interesting. The Primary school our twins attend, and my wife teaches at, was planning to drop BikeAbility from this year. The training is highly disruptive to the school, and has no benefits for the school: even trained children are strongly discouraged from cycling to school on their own bikes, and the training happens in the last term that children are at the school anyway.

It would make a lot more sense, in my view, to have BikeAbility training in Year 7, the first year of Secondary school, rather than Year 6, the last year of Primary school. There are many more children who are allowed to cycle to secondary school, and BikeAbility training would thus be much more relevant to them.

Certainly it's Good News that cycling is being taken a little bit seriously as a mode of transport in schools. A great pity that some local councils still consider cycling as a minority sport, and thus not worth investing in. I think the tide of opinion is very slowly turning though, and it's really good to see places like London and Brighton starting to actually invest in Dutch-style cycleways that anyone can use safely. I'm pretty certain we'd see hundreds fewer car trips to school locally each day if only there were safe cycleways for children to use.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by Vorpal »

I think that's good news. It would be even better if they had a 'how to encourage active travel' package, but maybe that's OTT :roll:

admin wrote:It would make a lot more sense, in my view, to have BikeAbility training in Year 7, the first year of Secondary school, rather than Year 6, the last year of Primary school. There are many more children who are allowed to cycle to secondary school, and BikeAbility training would thus be much more relevant to them.

Actually, I think that it makes more sense to offer Bikeability to year 5s.

Firstly, some secondary schools don't allow children to park a bike at school unles they have done level 2. And most schools don't want to do Bikeability at the beginnning of the year, but after exams are over in the summer term. So year 7s wouldn't get to ride to school, some places.

Teaching at year 5 would give the kids who the opportunity to ride to and from a closer school and get experience before they go to secondary school. Also, those who don't pass level 2 in year 5 might get a second chance in year 6.

It's better to encourage children to cycle to school. The environment needs to be created to make it safe.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by mjr »

Vorpal wrote:Firstly, some secondary schools don't allow children to park a bike at school unles they have done level 2.

What fresh hell is this? What draconian measures do they take to stop it? Are there any summaries of the practices around the country?

I completely agree on Bikeability in first schools, to allow children to learn from shorter (and usually less hazardous) rides.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

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Several schools in Essex have this rule. They include information like
Cycling
We endorse the Safer Journeys to School Initiative by discouraging the children from cycling to school without an adult present until they have achieved their bikeability level 2.

in their prospectus http://www.newlandsspring.essex.sch.uk/ ... n%204b.pdf

or they simply send a letter home that children who cycle to school must:
-be accompanied by an adult OR have obtained a Bikeability Level 2 certificate
-wear a helmet

I have seen such letters, and have taught Bikeability at junior schools that fed schools with such rules.

I don't know if anyone has challenged it. I expect that the most they could actually enforce is not allowing children to use the cycle parking, but when rules like this are combined with Bikeability being offered outside school hours (due to the needs of the national curriculum :roll: ) you can imagine how many children cycle to school.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by Ugly »

It's nothing new, back in the 50s my secondary school had a rule that to ride a bike to school you had to live 1.5 miles from the school in a straight line. My walk to school exceeded this by a fair bit but as the direct distance was less than the decreed distance I could not take my bike.
This reinforced the idea that 'those who can do those that can't teach'
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by Si »

I think that the level you introduce bikeability strongly depends on the school. I've done classes of y5s who I wouldn't have trusted to walk along the pavement without guidance let alone ride a bike, whereas at others the difference in maturity is astounding.

And the way things work around here, (YMMV) kids often get a second go at it when they are older.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by John Holiday »

Our training is usually Year 6 pupils, but with some Year 5 if numbers a bit short.
Obviously the the Year 5 pupils have the benefit of being able to ride for a full year following training.
Puzzled by 'admin's' comment that training is 'disruptive', as the children are only out of school for two days.
All the schools locally (North Wales) have been keen on take up & the response from teachers & pupils alike very positive.
Unfortunately,Level 3 is not being funded, so little scope for follow on in Secondary School.
Am pleased to say that I often get a cheery wave from former trainees,when out on my bike!
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by Si »

I think that the disruptiveness depends on how you do it and how the teacher views it.

Most teachers I work with have no issues at all.

We used to do 8-10 kids for one playground and four road sessions (there being three sessions in a day but the kids can't do all three sessions in one day). We now do 4 kids for one playground and two road sessions...schools seem to like this a lot more - esp if you can do half the class in one go at L1.

We have more funding now for secondary schools, including some L3.

We are also trialing Bikeability Plus, so not just how to ride to L2, but lots more cycle related activities.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by Vorpal »

Many heads and teachers view training as disruptive.

A very different approach is taken in Nordic countries. The children are expected to spend a certain amount of time doing active things, and spend a couple of hours less each day sitting in a classroom. They also have the opportunity in most places to take additional sports after school, or attend a sports oriented school.

The teachers say that children concentrate better and learn more when they have outdoor activities each day. There is evidence to support this.

http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/03/l ... in-school/
http://archpedi.jamanetwork.com/article ... id=1107683
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by blackbike »

mjr wrote:
Vorpal wrote:Firstly, some secondary schools don't allow children to park a bike at school unles they have done level 2.

What fresh hell is this?


All too typical of the way some of the public's hired hands regard themselves as masters rather than servants.

In the 70s my school had a rule that prefects could give lines to any boy seen in his school uniform in town without the school cap on his head.

I feel foul of this rule.

My dad, who in normal circumstances would have backed the school against me in every imaginable circumstance, was flabbergasted and told me not to do the lines.

Mysteriously my name disappeared off the lines due list that Friday, the matter was never mentioned again and enforcement ceased.

Parents have power. They should use it.

You can be certain that schools which insist on certain levels of skill for children who cycle to school do not examine their staff's driving licences and insist that staff with endorsements don't travel to work by car.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by pjclinch »

In Scotland Level 2 is specifically aimed at Primary 6 (that's the same as Y5 down South, we start counting at "1" rather than "R"), the penultimate year of Primary (the idea being L1 in P5 and at least notionally L3 in either P7 or S1 or higher).

Most instructors aim at the summer term so (a) the weather has a better chance of being nicer and (b) so the children will have it in time for the long break and subsequently their whole final year.

Children vary a lot, of course, and I only have one school as an example which is a rather poor sample size, but with that small sample P6 looks like a good thing to me

admin wrote:The training is highly disruptive to the school, and has no benefits for the school: even trained children are strongly discouraged from cycling to school on their own bikes


I think the last of those points pretty much summarises the attitude that bikes are something in the way. Disruptive to the school needn't be much more the case than any other gym/PE lesson (especially swimming, which I think is pretty universally hailed as a Good Thing despite typically needing coach travel). There are classroom based things too, but is it really worse to teach children about using roads in their neighbourhood as opposed to quite a lot of the topics they do cover? Any school which actually thought about and embraced it as a subject should be able to have fun and teach genuinely useful life skills to the children.
Beyond that, active children have been shown to have better attainment and concentration levels than car-delivered couch potatoes. That ought to be a benefit.

Well done Si's LA for doing this. It should be standard curriculum everywhere if we're serious about improving public health and the environment.

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Re: Bikeability in schools

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John Holiday wrote:Puzzled by 'admin's' comment that training is 'disruptive', as the children are only out of school for two days


Not so much disruptive for the children, but disruptive for the school. The problem is that the BikeAbility team need many adults from the school, as well as taking a set of children out for a chunk of the day. The school is already as "efficient" as it can be in allocation of adults to classes, so the additional need to provide several adults for BikeAbility requires a lot of re-arranging of things. This hasn't been helped at all by the BikeAbility people being quite abrupt and rude to the volunteer helpers (teachers and classroom assistants). So no-one is very keen to volunteer to help any more. The general thinking is "cycling to school is far too dangerous: why on earth are we teaching children how to cycle on these dangerous roads?".

The school has 60 children in each year, I'm not sure how many take BikeAbility. There used to be two families who cycled to school (with children on trailer bikes) making 3 out of 400 children. Now we're the only family left, so 2 out of 400 children cycle to school, and then only on a trailer bike. We travel nearly the furthest, at 1.25 miles actual distance. Riding scooters is however very popular, as that's a bit like cycling but legal to do on the footway, and the scooter storage at school is always full.

Now if we had a really useful cycleway to school, and enforceable 20mph limits on the residential streets where the children live, then things would be very different. We'd see many more children cycling to school, fewer mums driving to and from school twice a day, and a much more positive attitude towards cycling as transport all round. BikeAbility would then actually be something that would benefit the school.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

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pjclinch wrote:
admin wrote:The training is highly disruptive to the school, and has no benefits for the school: even trained children are strongly discouraged from cycling to school on their own bikes


I think the last of those points pretty much summarises the attitude that bikes are something in the way.


No, not at all, it's worse than that: the attitude is more that cycling to school is something that's extremely dangerous to do. Given the general standard of driving around the local streets (which are very busy with, yes, mums driving their children to the local schools, and parking everywhere to drop them off) I sadly tend to agree.

If the streets were safe enough that people thought cycling to school was a practical option I think BikeAbility would be seen in a much better light, and the school would be able to embrace cycling as a mode of transport that should be encouraged (for all the well-known reasons). But the streets are horrible, and I quite understand why the school would rather discourage children from cycling to and from school.
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Re: Bikeability in schools

Post by Si »

The problem is that the BikeAbility team need many adults from the school, a


Why do they need adults from the school?
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