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  • Primary School – Head Bans Infants Cycling To School
  • Premier Icon stingmered
    Full Member

    I’ll try and keep this brief. Eldest has been cycling to primary school for 2 years now, since he hit KS2. It was a bit of an oddity at first but over the warmer months a few more kids started doing which was pleasing to see. There are zero provisions for cycle storage at the school so the head said he can lock it to the railing by the school reception. The youngest has just started reception class and has also started cycling in. Again, he definitely stands out as most parents seem amazed that any 4 year could be trusted to ride in. However, this week I came to collect him and the after-school club leader had been told by the Head to pass on the message that” infants are not allowed to ride to school”. I was frankly dumbfounded, though obviously not wanting to shoot the messenger, I asked why, no reason was given… Obviously I wish to discuss this with the Head with the outcome that she changes her mind and allows it.

    Point of the post – I wanted to see what your collective wisdom might be on approach. First thing is to find out why, but I need a plan following that. My suspicions is that there is nowhere proper to store the bikes. I know several people have asked about bringing scooters in (and whilst I bloody hate the things, if it encourages kids and parents to ditch the car in favour of self-propelled means, then all good) but have been refused as nowhere to store. The school is a village school in a relatively affluent area, I’d say childhood obesity is below the norm (compared to what my wife sees in her job in other areas) but… the number of kids that get driven less than a mile really boils my piss. Ironically, I was told of the cycling ban 3 days after everybody received an email from the Head asking parents to be considerate of their parking as their had been an incident and to consider ditching the car if at all possible.

    So first step, find out why, but then what? I’ve got some ideas but keen to hear yours.

    Premier Icon oikeith
    Full Member

    hammer frozen sausages into the playing field until the decision is overturned?

    Premier Icon james-rennie
    Full Member

    I’m assuming you cycle along with your children, in which case take it up with the head, get him to see reason, put in some provision for locking bikes up.
    If you’re letting the kids cycle off to school, and home again on their own, I think that’s different. My two are now 11 and 13, but when at primary school they weren’t allowed off the premises until a parent/recognised adult was there to escort them: I think that’s common policy at primary schools.

    Premier Icon Gunz
    Full Member

    I presume the overall problem here is that of storage as the Head has no jurisdiction on how you get to the gates of the school. Is there anywhere else you could lock the bike up safely?

    Premier Icon sc-xc
    Full Member

    I’m a chair of governors at a primary school, we don’t allow cycling to work. Storage could be sorted, but we are on the junction of two busy roads, and the council’s traffic safety people advised against permitting in their risk assessment.

    head is a keen cyclist, so in our case it was an issue of liability.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    How on earth can they dictate to you what you allow your children to do outwith the school gates?

    As a kid I arrived as a kid to primary school by minibus, sometimes by bike, on a few occasions on sledges (minibus couldn’t get up the hill)

    And once… A cart pulled by a Shetland pony called Henry.

    Premier Icon Gunz
    Full Member

    @sc-xc – I’m a bit confused. Can the school actually stop staff/pupils cycling to the school, what happens if they just do it anyway. Does the Head have liability for staff/students outside of school property. Genuine question, not doubting the circumstances.

    Premier Icon tthew
    Full Member

    I’m a chair of governors at a primary school, we don’t allow cycling to work.

    You could **** right off with that edict! How the hell do you enforce it? I get you could not allow bikes to be stored on site, would just encourage me to get a few decent locks and secure it outside the gates. Work risk assessments have nothing to do with commuting decisions/liability and if the junction is so dangerous the school should be engaging with the council; to have it improved not limit healthy and environmental travel options for staff.

    Sorry OP,  that’s derailing your thread. Refusing bikes there is at least an understandable if not incorrect decision. The response to increased bike use and presumably the storage issues that then arrise should be to provide facilities not ban the bikes.

    Premier Icon rossburton
    Full Member

    The primary schools our kids have been at (three, now, don’t ask) allow kids to arrive/leave on their own with parental consent from year 5. I’m assuming your reception aged kid didn’t go to school on his own.

    If the reason is lack of safe storage, then the obvious argument is that you’re literally asking us to not drive, but providing nowhere to store bikes/scooters to make the walk easier for little legs. A shelter near the entrance isn’t exactly a huge cost and to be honest the sort of thing parents might help fundraise for if the school is too hard-up to pay for itself.

    If that isn’t the reason I’m really curious why…

    Premier Icon b230ftw
    Free Member

    Sorry but I would ignore such a “ban”. In any school or workplace unless there is a very very good reason why. And if they push it I’d take it to the press and complain as hard as I could to any organisation (council etc) connected to the school or workplace.

    It’s about time we stood up to these jobsworths for the sake of our kids health.

    The approach to stopping cycling accidents by banning it really boils my wee.

    Premier Icon b230ftw
    Free Member

    thhew +1

    Premier Icon sing1etrack
    Full Member

    I’m a chair of governors at a primary school, we don’t allow cycling to work. Storage could be sorted, but we are on the junction of two busy roads, and the council’s traffic safety people advised against permitting in their risk assessment.

    head is a keen cyclist, so in our case it was an issue of liability.

    You must not use this sustainable method of transport to get to work…. much better to jump in your car and make the two adjacent busy roads even busier….

    Some strange logic there I’m afraid. Which presumably two cyclists were key to implementing.

    Premier Icon natrix
    Free Member

    Does the school have a travel plan? If so, ask to see it. If not, offer to draw one up for them.

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Full Member

    thhew +1

    +1 again, but the reply I formulated in my head had too much abuse, so I thought it wise not to type it!

    Premier Icon 5lab
    Free Member

    could you ride with them on a bike that allows you to take their bike back home with you? I can strap 2 kids and a kids bike to my cargo bike (useful when you’ve got busy roads to get over before the nice stuff) – but it might be possible with a tagalong or similar

    Premier Icon sockpuppet
    Full Member

    I’m a chair of governors at a primary school, we don’t allow cycling to work. Storage could be sorted, but we are on the junction of two busy roads, and the council’s traffic safety people advised against permitting in their risk assessment.

    head is a keen cyclist, so in our case it was an issue of liability.

    I don’t understand how the school thinks it has any right to do this.

    I despair that this is the outcome of the behaviour of drivers making the roads a risk. For it it the drivers, not the cars, not the roads, not the junctions. The drivers.

    As for the OP, can you get a trail angel? I assume you’re riding in with the kids?

    I’d be ignoring the policy. If storage is an issue you can easily hitch the younger one’s bike to yours and take it away with you.

    Premier Icon swavis
    Full Member

    Ours are allowed to take scooters/bikes/walk from primary 4 upwards. They even have a cool scooter parking thing and bike racks. It’s definitely encouraged to find alternative transport than a car, although it still amazes me how many parents take the car when they live less than 10 minutes walk away. I know one that still takes the car even though they can use the bus that stops at the end of her drive, I’m guessing she just likes the gossip at the gates…

    I’d ask if somewhere to store the bikes could be something that could be raised through fundraising with the kids if that is the issue?

    Premier Icon Cougar
    Full Member

    How on earth can they dictate to you what you allow your children to do outwith the school gates?a

    This.

    “Dear headmonster,

    Whilst my child is travelling to school he is ipso facto out of school and therefore my responsibility, not yours. He shall therefore continue as he has done quite safely for the last two years.

    If secure storage is a concern and you’re encouraging people not to drive, might I suggest you consider provision for a bike rack to be installed?

    Love and kisses, etc.”

    in our case it was an issue of liability.

    How are you liable for kids who aren’t in school?

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    I’ve never got how schools (or employers) can have a risk assessment for a journey to the site.

    Suspect you are at the wrong end of several conflicting dictats around safety, active travel etc. You are absolutely doing the right thing by your kids and the environment. Finding a way for the head to climb down with dignity will be the tricky bit.

    Premier Icon ThePinkster
    Full Member

    And if they push it I’d take it to the press and complain as hard as I could to any organisation (council etc) connected to the school or workplace.

    I’d also recommend contacting Cycling UK and getting them involved as this is one of their main interests at the moment, trying to get more kids cycling.

    Premier Icon Superficial
    Free Member

    Following with interest. My son’s school won’t allow use of the bike lockers until juniors, which basically prevents us from riding to school for a few more years (he’s in Y1).

    They ignored my initial complaints and this thread has reminded me to keep nagging…

    Premier Icon MoreCashThanDash
    Full Member

    head is a keen cyclist, so in our case it was an issue of liability.

    Child cycles to school, child injured by driver, driver legally liable.

    By what actual case law is a school liable for the separate actions of two parties not on the premises? Serious question.

    Premier Icon PJay
    Free Member

    Good luck with your quest. There might be something useful here – https://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/document/migrated/campaign/1205_rtrts_kit_revised_.pdf

    Premier Icon outofbreath
    Free Member

    I don’t understand how the school thinks it has any right to do this.

    Yup, and until we understand that there’s not much point in discussing it.

    (Not that we should let that stop us!)

    Premier Icon tthew
    Full Member

    I’ve just had another thought. As this was mentioned in passing to you by a junior member of staff, probably safe to just ignore the instruction until there’s official communication from the head.

    Premier Icon NewRetroTom
    Full Member

    Maybe add a paragraph to Cougar’s letter:

    “The only alternative to Jr cycling to school would be for me to drop him off in my armoured personnel carrier, however I am reluctant to use this as I believe its considerable bulk and large blind spots would make it a significant hazard for children in its vicinity.”

    Premier Icon donald
    Free Member

    The primary schools our kids have been at (three, now, don’t ask) allow kids to arrive/leave on their own with parental consent from year 5.

    My Mum took me to school precisely twice. Ever. Second time was embarrasing.

    World’s gone mad.

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Full Member

    Child cycles to school, child injured by driver, driver legally liable.

    Note that it’s not just the children but employees of the school, judging by this: I’m a chair of governors at a primary school, we don’t allow cycling to work.. Unless it’s a typo, of course.)

    Premier Icon scuttler
    Full Member

    Does the school have a travel plan?

    If not, the default travel plan is “biggest, loudest, most expensive car gets to park the closest and pavements should be used to maximise car density”.

    Premier Icon stingmered
    Full Member

    Thanks all. Just for the record, I do cycle in with them. We can get to school entirely off-road except for one road crossing in the village which is pretty busy at 8.45am.

    I don’t think there’ a dogmatic “infants shall not cycle to school” from the Head, but I do think it’s a case of storage, especially on the infants side of the school which uses a separate entrance / playground to the juniors. I will find out and post back here. My thoughts on approach (and a few seem to share here) is to offer to work with the head to provide the necessary storage. This could include fund raising via the PTA which seems to turnover £10k/yr minimum. I’m not keen to jump to a nuclear option of going to the chair of Gov, or local press etc… After all, my kids have got some time left here, it’s a good school despite this and I’m rather work through this diplomatically and with good grace than cause upset/friction. But I will go there if necessary.

    Premier Icon PJay
    Free Member

    Do have a look at the Cycling UK document though, it seems to have been written to address precisely the sort of situation you find yourself in.

    https://www.cyclinguk.org/sites/default/files/document/migrated/campaign/1205_rtrts_kit_revised_.pdf

    With respect to cycle storage it suggests:

    o No cycle parking/not enough space for cycle parking – ask the council to install
    parking. Many local authorities have budgets for this and appreciate suggestions from the
    general public. Alternatively, cycle parking is surprisingly inexpensive and you can buy it direct
    from many manufacturers. For information on cycle parking best practice, see:
    http://www.ctc.org.uk/resources/Campaigns/CYCLEPARKINFO.pdf or
    http://www.camcycle.org.uk/resources/cycleparking/guide

    Premier Icon butcher
    Full Member

    The approach to stopping cycling accidents by banning it really boils my wee.

    Pretty much this. It’s backwards.

    If it is a safety issue, I’d be pushing hard to find out what they’re doing to address it and enable kids to cycle to school.

    If it’s a storage issue, then it’s still backwards. I think you’d struggle to find a school that doesn’t have the physical space to accommodate a small number of bikes. So you really have to ask why they’re actively encouraging children and parents to adopt unhealthy lifestyle choices, which they’re going to grow up with.

    Premier Icon tthew
    Full Member

    A very measured and sensible approach stingmered.

    Premier Icon outofbreath
    Free Member

    I don’t think there’ a dogmatic “infants shall not cycle to school” from the Head, but I do think it’s a case of storage, especially on the infants side of the school which uses a separate entrance / playground to the juniors.

    In which case no probs, just wheel the bike and park it in the juniors, or carry it home if it’s small. Or chain it outside the school.

    It would be nice to have bike parking where you want it but lack of it won’t stop you cycling in.

    And yes, deffo manage the installation of a bike rack where u want it in conjunction with the school, ASAP.

    Premier Icon stingmered
    Full Member

    Do have a look at the Cycling UK document though, it seems to have been written to address precisely the sort of situation you find yourself in.

    I’ve just read that document – fantastic, thank you Pjay.

    Premier Icon mjsmke
    Free Member

    It sounds more like the head is baning bringing bikes into the school grounds. If there is an accident on school grounds it becomes a bigger issue.

    They can’t stop you riding in with your kids and the bike left off school property.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    As well as cycling UK, look up Living Streets as they have tools and support for this situation.

    I too think the head and governor above can do one. How an employee or pupil gets to school is is no concern or liability of theirs. The only time I could see an involvement would be if there is a safeguarding issue.

    How you assist the headteacher and the governor above to climb down from this, and without them digging in heels, is going to be the challenge.

    I have to say finding a local ish school community who have transformed school travel and now don’t have the line of cars causing an issue could be a good case study.

    Premier Icon i_scoff_cake
    Free Member

    My two are now 11 and 13, but when at primary school they weren’t allowed off the premises until a parent/recognised adult was there to escort them: I think that’s common policy at primary schools.

    They probably have to wear high-vis vests everywhere too right? 😀

    I do wonder what this generation of kids will be like when they become adults. They are being brought up in bubbles of absolute safety.

    There was nothing like this when I was at primary school. Many of the kids lived in the nearby estate so would walk or cycle home themselves. Some were even ‘latch key’ kids.

    I’m sure the teachers kept an informal eye on things though. Infants walking home alone a significant distance across busy roads may have raised concerns, however.

    Premier Icon tjagain
    Full Member

    I walked to schoole either with my 2 yr older sister or on my own my entire time at school

    and before anyone says it was safer back then this was glasgow in the 70s

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    My two are now 11 and 13, but when at primary school they weren’t allowed off the premises until a parent/recognised adult was there to escort them: I think that’s common policy at primary schools

    Whereas all 3 of mine walked, scootered or cycled with parent from day 1 of nursery, and all headed home and in by themselves from age 7 or so… All heads were supportive…

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