2020 Bikeability Awards: Most Proactive Primary School of the Year – Runner up – Shinfield St Marys

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A national Bikeability award programme is held every year to reward and promote the amazing work that the Bikeability industry and trainees do.   Further background.

At Shinfield St.Mary’s Junior School, Wokingham they have the vision of wanting to enable every child in the school to be able to ride a bike. They have funded a Bikeability instructor (via Lloyd Watkins-Sprockets Cycling Club) to run Learn to Ride sessions, before and after school, for those who could not ride.

In the words of Matthew Lappin, a Year 6 teacher and Head of P.E. at the school;

The school purchased a range of bikes and helmets predominantly for pupil premium pupils to use as well as disadvantaged families. By removing all barriers, we have 100% participation in our curriculum cycling sessions which are deeply embedded in our Physical Education curriculum.

Our Year 4,5 and 6 children all receive 12 weeks of coaching, completely funded by the school, in each of the three years with Lloyd Watkins. This ensures that every child leaves Shinfield St.Mary’s at a competent and confident level. The results showed that in the academic year 208/19, we had 67 children trained on Bikeability Level 1/Level 2 courses, compared to a much lower uptake of 14 children in 2016. The more confident cyclists in Year 6 were then able to go on to participate in Bikeability Level 3 training(39 children took part) so that they could travel to their secondary schools safely by bicycle.

We also have Wokingham’s newest Bike Hub being installed at our school, which will allow both the school and Wokingham to promote cycling for families in the area and run events in the school holidays, such as bike maintenance courses, family rides and balance bike training for younger children. The school has a strong relationship with the local bike shop, Rotec Cycles, who provide the bikes and bike maintenance for the school and subsidised equipment for pupil premium families. In addition, Swallowfield Velo Club are based on our grounds at the weekends, providing a club route for all our children at a familiar setting.

Shinfield St. Mary’s relationship with British Cycling began with the late Go-Ride Coach for Central region, Graham MacNamee. Bikeability then became our key focus and with British Cycling’s support, we began on our journey to embed cycling into our school curriculum. By having Bikeability as an intrinsic part of our school’s sustainable and active travel plans, we can promote cycling to a wider group of parents. The purchase of bicycle racks for around 50 bicycles on our site has meant that families feel safe bringing and leaving bicycles on the school run.

In last year’s Berkshire School Games County Cycling Competition, we were able to select a team of our best riders from the Bikeability Level 2 and 3 courses to compete for the school and Wokingham. We finished the competition as county winners overall with the top individual two girl and boy places going to Shinfield St. Mary’s children. This is further evidence to show that cycling is at the heart of our school ethos and those who want to take it further have the opportunity to do so under the Shinfield St. Mary’s banner.

In recent weeks, British Cycling have begun to use our site as a venue for coaching courses and this is the first of many steps to supporting our local community of coaches.

Testimonial from Lloyd Watkins, NSIQ

In May 2018, I was engaged by Shinfield St Mary’s C of E Junior School to deliver cycling within the school PE curriculum. The brief was to address the barriers to participation in Bikeability and build confidence and skills in riders before they undertook Bikeability. In order to do this all children in years 4 – 6 were assessed and learn to ride was offered to every child who could not ride. From that time, years 4, 5 and 6 of the school has had a minimum of 10 weeks riding each year. During this time, the exercises from the Bikeability Level 1 Syllabus and the British Cycling Go-Ride syllabus have been taught and coached. 

Riders have learned through games and challenges to ride one handed, to observe and adjust to other riders around them and to tackle hills, obstacles and have become confident riders in close company with others. This has resulted in many more children riding to school, many more children riding bikes for fun and many more children showing a willingness to try new things and persevere in poor weather. This does not replace Bikeability training but both sets up the students of the school for participation in the scheme and most importantly as riders throughout their lives.

Testimonial from Terry Holmes, NSIQ

I would like to comment on how much standards of cycling at Shinfield St. Mary’s improved. I have taught Bikeability levels 1 and 2 at the school over a number of years and have seen a significant improvement in the cycling skills of those taking part in the last two years or so. Skills such as overall control, riding one handed, and controlling the bike whilst looking around had definitely improved.

I visited and taught there in September 2018 and noticed a marked difference in the standards of cycling which translated into confident riding on quieter roads. Students showed a good understanding of the core elements of riding safely and communicating well with other road users. Numbers of participants had also risen in this year with, I believe, 67 out of 88 children doing the level 1 & 2 course. An amazing take-up figure!

Returning to the school in June 2019, we were able offer Level 3 courses to 39 year 6 students, a mark of the competency and confidence of these children. We found that they responded well to the challenges of busier roads and seemed to get a lot out of the course. This was a fantastic achievement for children in this year group.

Long may this incredibly important work continue.

Shrove Tuesday 2020 – Pancake Tossing on Bicycles!

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