We revisit feedback in conversation with Angi Gibson, Head Teacher, and Matt Berresford, PE Coordinator, just after lockdown ended in Jan 2021.

In 2021 we spoke to Angi and Matt from HPPS about how their cycling programmes had benefited the school since they began working with Bike4Health three years earlier. Angi started working with Bike4Health because of our passion for getting children active through regular participation in cycling and our evidence of high quality delivery. Angi had first heard of us through our work in other schools across the North East and after accompanying us on a trip to Holland decided that cycling could hugely benefit her pupils. HPPS jumped straight in at the deep end.

AG: “We started with the track design and build as we had a vision for cycling at HPPS. Following the track build we purchased bikes, equipment and secure storage together with a maintenance agreement to look after the bikes. As riding activity was established in order to progress onsite riding a good number of staff were trained by British Cycling to Ride Leader Level 1 standard. This has enabled cycling off site. With the help of Bike4Health guides and qualified teachers groups of children are now cycling off site to explore the local cycle ways.”

MB: “It’s an extensive programme at HPPS, all children from Nursery to Y6 use the cycle track. Year 3 through to Year 6 directly benefit from the guided rides we receive from B4H as those are the children involved in weekly rides off site exploring the big wide world. KS1 children have also benefited as they have utilised the bikes and cycle track on the school site. KS1 children have had a regular after school bike club where they benefit from the cycling infrastructure. B4H have supported us with on school coaching using the track on site.”

AG: “We see the benefits in terms of getting children more physically active. Building resilience has linked to the development of our character curriculum in school.”

The children in school love taking part in the weekly cycling sessions.

MB:” We have seen an increase in the children’s resilience and determination. As well as becoming more confident riders, children are also learning to maintain bikes and some children are growing in confidence with ‘leading’ sections of rides. Due to the frequency of children cycling they are becoming more confident with their knowledge of the local area and are able to recognise routes both in person and on maps.

Last year during the Year 3 cycling sessions, we went from having 6 non-riders to all children successfully riding a bike and completing challenging distances. The children not only enjoyed the experiences out of class they also used these experiences as a stimulus for their writing by re-telling real life experiences and documenting these using a wide range of vocabulary.”

Climbing to the top in the Rising Sun Country Park

HPPS intends to continue incorporating cycling across the wider curriculum.

AG: “This year we have plans in place to link our careers curriculum with cycling. The routes that we will be using will be designed to pass local businesses and places of work. This will provide children with the opportunity to explore career options in their local area, expanding children’s viewpoints of the jobs that are available to them. Children will also be shown routes that they could use to cycle to these destinations, promoting active and sustainable travel.

During lockdown it has provided a welcome release allowing the children the opportunity to get outside in the fresh air and expand their horizons. This has clear positive impacts on children’s emotional wellbeing and develops a range of other important skills including communication, teamwork and resilience. Children need to assess risks for themselves and support their peers whilst following instructions and assessing the environment around them. There are also opportunities for cross curricular links such as visiting the Roman baths in Segedunum or visiting the cruise ship at the Royal Quays and the geographical questions that arise from this. Children have to take responsibility for their own equipment and their behaviour in the local community and their increasing consideration and politeness to members of the public has been an unexpected benefit.”

MB: “One highlight has been the growth in the mindset of some of the Year 6 boys who on the first week of the ride were getting frustrated at being held up behind slower riders. One boy in Year 6 was really struggling to cope with riding the bike and was getting upset. By week 3 the same boys who had been trying to overtake him were now riding side by side offering support and encouragement which really lifted his spirits and allowed him to successfully complete the ride. It is this development in communication skills and sense of working as a team to support each other which has been the main strength in the program.”

HPPS has managed to incorporate cycling right across the curriculum from PE, local geography and history to careers rides for their older year-groups. They are also benefiting from the holistic benefits from cycling; increased teamwork and relationship development, personal confidence growth and even increases in fitness and concentration when off the bike.

Bike4Health continues to support HPPS in 2022 as it further develops its cycling programme by helping support their in-house ride leaders on off-site rides and with fleet maintenance. Hopefully their cycling programme continues to bring benefits to pupils long into the future.

If you are interested in how cycling can help your school or organisation please get in touch with us via the connect page on our website and one of our team will get back to you.