Letting children pelt teachers with water balloons and wet sponges as they cycle around the playground has helped a Tottenham primary school transform the school run. Devonshire Hill Primary School became the first in London to be awarded the Sustrans Bike It School Mark (Bronze), having increased cycling levels from 2 per cent to 17 per cent within a year.
The number of children being driven to school by car also nearly halved from 18 per cent to 10 per cent.
Events that inspired children onto two wheels included the chance to splash teaching assistant John Appleton with sponges, free bike breakfasts for youngsters and parents, and mechanic sessions to repair punctured bicycles.
Sustrans Bike It officer Georgie Fyfe-Jamieson, who began working with the school in September 2008, presented the award to head teacher Julie D’Abreu on Monday and said: “There have been some fantastic events at Devonshire Hill, which is all down to the enthusiasm of children and their teachers.
“The children came up with many of their own ideas for getting their classmates pedalling to school. They all love to get as much use out of their bikes as possible, and are reaping the benefits for their health, confidence and sense of independence.”
Among those who enjoy cycling to school are bike marshalls Morgan Richards, aged 10, and Rachael Harewood, aged nine, who have helped create some of the cycling events.
Morgan said: “Bikes are good fun to ride because they get you moving and you can cycle with friends. I like being active and feel really happy when I get to school.”
Learning mentor and Bike It champion Denise Ward said: “The children who cycle are very alert and engaged for the start of lessons, and they all have a competition to see who can be the first to lock their bike in the shed each morning, which has helped some of them to be more punctual. We’ve even got children as young as three pedalling in with little stabilisers, which is terrific.”
Sustrans has six Bike It officers in London who each look after between 10 and 12 schools. Funding for the project at Devonshire Hill has been put together by Transport for London, supported by Haringey Council.
Annabelle Ankobia-Fosu, Haringey Council’s School Travel Advisor, said: “Devonshire Hill is a brilliant example of how to maximise resources to achieve success. This award marks all the hard work put in to inspire children onto their bikes and make the school more sustainable.”
For more information about Sustrans and Bike It visit www.sustrans.org.uk.