Families of school age children make up a significant proportion of our town’s population, therefore working with schools has always been important to us.
Our Cycle Training and Events teams are working with our Sustrans, Bike It Officer to deliver a cycling programme in schools, that they have called ‘Learning in Motion’.
Working with schools and partners in the community the ‘Learning in Motion’ programme engages with every child, parent and member of staff at a school.
During the school day, every child from age 4 is either taught to ride, or receives an annual course of cycle training sessions, continuing to improve their skills and confidence further until age 9/10 when they begin Bikeability (visit: bikeability.dft.gov.uk).
Alongside this, bikes and cycling are used in lessons both inside and outside the classroom as topics in many subjects. Skills essential for the Independent Traveller such as route planning, bike mechanics and punctures repairs are used in lessons across the curriculum including Geography, Science, Maths, English and P.E.
The team visits each school regularly throughout the year, delivering sessions in a very intensive format creating excitement and a positive atmosphere around the school. The children are inspired to learn and teachers become engaged. In many cases teachers have enhanced the programme by adding additional content or developing their own follow-on sessions, further embedding cycling in to the curriculum.
The team has regular contact with parents both via regular written communications and in person at school. This has led to many parents becoming involved with the activities in school, including in one case a programme devised just for parents, helping support the school and their own children. We are now seeing whole families who did not previously ride bikes cycling regularly.
We are particularly proud of our ‘Cycle Safaris’. The team leads whole classes to local parks, open spaces or historic sites. Supported by local community partners, children tour the areas by bike, receiving lessons in the local History, Natural History and the culture of their community.
Schools tell us the scheme is adding value to education giving children a real-life context for their learning and that children, their parents and staff are all cycling more often, contributing significantly to the changing travel culture in Southend.