Bikeability Scotland breakthroughs during the lockdown

31 May 2022    

Canal View Primary school, in Edinburgh, was named ‘School of the Year’ at the ‘Bikeability Scotland Awards 2021’.

The school’s focus on Bikeability, through the lockdown, made them a winner and one year on they are still reaping the rewards. Sue Russell, the schools Health & Wellbeing Co-ordinator, said,

We were so lucky to have spent a day a week outside, during lockdown, and focused on Bikeability. It made a massive difference to the children and to the school as well.

Canal View were able to focus on Bikeability, in this way, because they had the support of their Head teacher and their Active Schools Co-ordinator who became based in the school.  Any extra timetable slots, that came about as a result of changes through lockdown, were given to biking too. Sue says this focus has made a big difference to the levels of cycling amongst the children,

So many children bike to school now and also cycle with their families at the weekends.  The key to the success was spending the time to get all the children comfortable on their bikes before we began Bikeability.  Then when we did start the programme we managed to get all our Primary 6 & 7’s through Levels 1 & 2, which means that all our children learned to ride with control whilst sharing space with others, before gaining the skills and confidence to cycle safely on the road.

Sue was amazed at the difference that the Bikeability Scotland programme made to all the children even the ones who initially struggled with cycling due to additional support needs,

for those children who struggle in the classroom, finding their wings on a bike is even more important.  It is a chance for them to feel that there is an area of their school life that they can excel at.  Seeing them learn to bike safely on the road, and gain a thrill at achieving this, was such a proud moment for them and all of us at the school.

Canal View have embedded the Bikeability Scotland programme into their school post-lockdown now too and Sue sees this major achievement as a team effort.

It was a group effort to make this happen.  We had the commitment of our senior management team and that of the other staff, who agreed to be trained to support the school.  We also had the support of our Active Schools Co-ordinator through Lockdown. These combined resource allowed us to focus on and prioritise Bikeability for every P6 & P7 child.

Sue couldn’t be prouder of the children, the school and the value that Bikeability Scotland has brought them,

My favourite day of the week is Bikeability day now. I wasn’t even a cyclist myself until I got involved with this but I see so many benefits for the children – for now as well as for later in life. They learn to multitask, to grow in confidence by listening and applying what they are told in a real-life situation on a bike in the playground and then on the road.  It is one of greatest opportunities to learn a life-enhancing skill at such a vital, young age. I’d urge other schools to get involved and embed the programme into their schools.