Kilburn Junior School on a roll!

Martin Whiteman, Sports Coach and Teaching Assistant at Kilburn Junior School, knows the positive impact that cycling can have on young people. Since introducing a cycling programme after a successful funding bid, he believes fitness levels, behaviour and attainment in the classroom have all improved. It is a shining example of what those who have drawn up the Derbyshire Cycling Plan are determined will become more commonplace in years to come.

Kilburn Junior School pupils at a Go Ride event.

Getting grants, buying bikes

"We have got a few members of staff who are into our cycling, so we decided to apply for grants related to getting children at our school on bikes. It is not a massive school – there are probably 140 to 150 children – but we have got a very large area of land that we knew we could use to cycle on initially.

"'We successfully applied for a Big Lottery bid aimed at helping children 'Get Out' and 'Get On' their bikes'. We bought 15 bikes, 10 scooters and a secure container. The Derbyshire Police visited to code the bikes and also the pupil's personal bikes to help raise awareness on security. That kicked it all off and it went from there, with myself and the deputy head Robert Hull originally pushing it forward.

"It started off simply, with us getting the children in years three and four to learn how to ride through the learn to ride scheme called Bikeability, then we moved onto Bikeability level two in year five and Bikeability level three, with the help of the Amber Valley School Sport Partnership and provided by Dave Howard.

School grounds have been an ideal learning area for the Kilburn pupils.

County winners

"Last year we had a quarter of pupils across the school attend last year's Go-Ride competitions organised by Amber Valley SSP, due to the high profile cycling had and the enthusiasm this had generated. As a school we have now been to the county finals for the last two years and have come first both times for boys and girls in various events.

"We have had some very good riders and it sends out the message to the rest of the school that they could be just as good. Some have even gone on to ride for cycle clubs such as Heanor Clarion and Derby Mercury and one, Jessica Tiffney races in the Notts and Derbyshire Cyclo-Cross League, which acts as an inspiration to others.

"When the Tour of Britain came through last year, we lined the route and we even had the BBC come down to do some filming, which was great.

Improvements in the classroom

Kilburn pupils cheered on the Tour of Britain riders.

"It has helped in the classroom too, with a number of pupils last year achieving level sixes in their SATs after a lot of hard work. We have also noticed pupils asking a lot more questions in the classroom with their added confidence.

"Some pupils ride their bikes or scoot to school when they can – encouraged by the Derbyshire County Council Travel Smart programme, which was introduced by Rob Bounds, Senior Transport Officer from the Derbyshire Sustainable Travel Team, to promote the use of bikes and scooters as an alternative to using the car.

"Others can now go out with friends and family and enjoy themselves. We've even been on the track at Derby Arena, which was a great experience for them.

"All this has really helped the health and wellbeing of the school's children. It would be fantastic if other schools can recognise the value and do something similar. If lots of schools had cyclists it would help with safety as there would be less cars on the road.

"Biking doesn't take half the time that walking into school does and it's also environmentally friendly too. I would recommend it to anyone."

Plans for a bike maintenance club

Some pupils have ridden at the Derby Arena.

"Through our successful Rolls-Royce Governor Grant, we have been able to establish the 'Mighty Mechanics Club' for the year fives and sixes, where pupils can learn how to change tyres, mend punctures and change bike cables, giving them a small taste of engineering and develop cross curricular links within the school.'

"In the near future, we'd also like to set up links with clubs and have regular rides at a velodrome as well as days out on some of Derbyshire trails."

Find out more

Read some tips on how you can get involved in cycling and where - young or old - on the Cycling pages of the Derbyshire Sport website.

Learning skills with safety in mind.

Mountain bike pedal power.

Out and about on a bike trek.

Out on the school field.