West Denton Primary School Cycle Case Study- 7/12/20
Why did you want to develop cycling in your school?
As someone who enjoys riding bikes (Road and trail), trail running, practising outdoor pursuits and spending time outdoors, I appreciate the many benefits for your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing from being outside with nature. Cycling gives people the freedom and independence to explore their local area and further afield, whilst keeping fit at the same time. For me, cycling is the perfect antidote to spending time indoors staring at a plastic screen. A family or a group of friends can have a great day out on two wheels: They can explore their local area, enjoy a picnic together, talk freely and also make happy memories for each one of them. It is strange that many people are prepared to invest in the latest must-have smart phone which will become outdated in a few years’ time; yet struggle to see the many benefits of investing in a ‘Bike for Life’, which can provide decades of pleasure; if given just a little TLC.
At West Denton Primary School (WDPS) cycling is embedded into curriculum time. Cycling gives every child confidence and helps them to develop the self-belief that they are capable of achieving goals in whatever they set their mind to. That is why at WDPS cycling is a key element of our wider outdoor learning curriculum.
What were the key elements that made bike4health stand out from other companies?
Dave Buchan and the bike4health team have the same passion and positive energy for cycling that I have. They appreciate the importance of promoting positive mental health for all people and they are friendly, professional and resilient in providing a bespoke service that meets the needs of the individual school.
How are you using your multi-purpose track and bikes?
The WDPS Running and Mountain Bike Trail was the first multi-use trail in Newcastle upon Tyne and it was created so that all children can develop fitness and essential bike-handling skills all year round. WDPS students receive cycling lessons on a rota basis during curriculum time and they also learn basic bike maintenance. We also undertake off-site rides building up to our Y5 and Y6 children completing multi-day cycle tours in the summer term.
WDPS Cycle Tours have included the following:
Tour de Northumberland
A 135 mile cycle challenge which allowed our children to develop life skills and at the same time appreciate the stunning North-East countryside.
Day 1. WDPS to Bellingham
Day 2. Bellingham to Kielder
Day 3. Kielder to Rothbury (via Kielder Forest Drive then the ascent over the Otterburn Ranges)
Day4. Rothbury to WDPS
Working in partnership with Bike4Health, this was an epic achievement for all of the children and adults.
The Sandstone Way is a 120 mile mountain biking route between Berwick upon Tweed and Hexham along the Sandstone Ridge in North Northumberland linking numerous sandstone features, crags and outcrops. The route traverses through an amazing ever-changing landscape which is rich in history, geological features and iconic scenery.
Bellingham Loop and Kielder Reservoir
This is a beautiful trip from WDPS up to Bellingham on the edge of Kielder Reservoir. The students also get to develop bushcraft skills as well as cycle around sections of or around the whole of the reservoir.
WDPS Tour de Hollande
Without doubt this is a real cultural treat for students and adults alike. After cycling from WDPS to the Port of Tyne, the night is spent on the ferry to Holland. The next 2 days are spent cycling around Amsterdam and experiencing a healthy culture where cycling is the normal mode of transport for all. The students cycle past tree-lines canals, container houses, beautiful buildings, central parks, a national park and rural, industrial and urban areas. It is a treat for all the senses.
What are the biggest benefits you have seen for the children?
Our children develop confidence, empathy, tolerance and resilience and take real pride in their many accomplishments. Cycling is a great leveller as children and adults of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels can travel through this amazing natural and man-made world and celebrate together the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Can you share any practice insights you have gained?
Each week when I see children around the school, they are always keen to tell me two things: Firstly, how they have helped the special adults in their life at home and secondly where they have been on their bike outside and any other types of exercise they have taken part in. Staff also comment on how more engaged the children are back in the classroom when the children return from a cycling, allotments or bushcraft learning experience outdoors.
The crux to developing a cycling or any outdoor learning culture in a school is to harness the energy of enthusiastic staff who will drive creative learning forward through sweat, determination and hard work. It is also imperative that the Head Teacher is passionate about the benefits of healthy, outdoor learning for all.