As a scheme manager and hands-on trainer Mark Sheffield has directly seen the impact Bikeability Plus modules can have – from the well-known Bikeability Balance and Bikeability Learn to Ride modules to newer ones such as Bikeability Transition.
Bikeability Balance develops those crucial early cycle handling and awareness skills in 4-7 year olds using games on balance bikes, trikes or adapted cycles.
Bikeability Learn to Ride is for riders who can balance, this module is designed for anyone who has yet to master pedalling. Suitable for any age.
Bikeability Transition gets children planning and then riding the best routes to their new secondary school.
The Chorley School Sports Partnership provides Bikeability, quality PE and sports competitions to over 40 schools in the borough. As manager of the Bikeability scheme Mark and a small team train around 1000 Level 1-3 students a year. They don’t offer all ten Bikeability Plus modules – just the ones that work for them, with quite a lot of Bikeability Balance and Bikeability Learn to Ride.
Mark says “Bikeability Balance was our first module, we’ve been doing it for years now and it works really well. Schools like it – not just for the buzz the kids get!
It’s easily done in a hall, and Reception teachers like it because their children don’t get quite as many extra-curricular activities. In the colder months we do more as there’s less Level 1-3 happening. And of course it sets those kids up well for Level 1 later on”.
Mark says, “It’s not just about cycling – it’s often about independent travel and confidence. Instructors and schemes working in schools week to week see and feel the difference cycling makes to physical and emotional confidence, independence and decision making. I see first-hand the kinds of children who would most benefit from Bikeabiity Learn to Ride, and I see the massive difference we can make for those kids.
We primarily use Bikeability Learn to Ride to get non-riders into Level 1 and 2 courses, so Years 5 and 6, as close as we can to Level 1-2. With a bit of pre-warning and careful planning, we aim to get the few who need it up and running before Level 1. As a scheme we usually deliver 2-day Level 1-2 courses, small numbers of trainees… so it’s usually OK and if it’s done like this we don’t charge separately for Bikeability Learn to Ride”.
“At the moment it’s early days for us with Bikeability Recycle – we think bodies like councils may give us bikes from recycling centres to fix up and supply to people who need them, so at the moment that’d be our version of Bikeability Recycle.
I’m fairly sure someone will fund it – a school, a local authority or maybe a friendly sponsor – and I think I’ll try to take advantage of the new Halfords sponsorship to get some of us trained in bike maintenance”.
Working with about 100 Level 3 trainees a year, Mark built on their relationships with local secondary schools and has successfully delivered Transition to Year 7s.
“We felt this made sense – the school is investing in students early in their time there, so the decisions easier – and so is the session design because while Year 6s are likely going off to more than one school, the Year 7s are riding 2-3 routes all to the same destination”.
“It’s early days for Bikeability Ride too but this works well as part of ‘Healthy Week’ style initiatives, working with Bikeability Level 2 graduates”.
About Funding – The Story So Far
At the moment Chorley School Sports Partnership (SSP) takes a wider view of charging schools – often delivering slightly over the number of funded places, or not charging separately for Bikeability Learn to Ride. As it works with a School Games Organiser Host School, Chorley SSP was able to obtain some Bikeability Plus funding from the DfT’s four-yearly Bikeability funding round for Bikeability Learn to Ride.
Given that Bikeability Plus offers a range of benefits, including for health, supporting greater inclusion and its potential to help children to travel to school independently, most Bikeability Plus modules and associated costs such as professional development training (CPD) would seem to meet the current criteria to allow a school to fund them from Sports Premium and/or Pupil Premium allocations.