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School wins gold award for boosting cycling numbers

Secondary school promotes cycling in PE classes and improves infrastructure

A secondary school has been the first in the country to win a gold award from Sustrans for their work in encouraging children to ride bikes.

The number of pupils regularly cycling to school at Gatton Park in Reigate has risen from 9 per cent to 31 per cent since September 2010, earning the school a Gold Sustrans School Mark Award.

According to This is Surrey, cycling is promoted at the school's PE sessions, and competitive cycling is on the curriculum, including an annual inter-school mountain-biking competition.

All sections of the school are encouraged to ride via various initiatives, including a Year 9 girls' cycle ride to a local cafe for coffee and cake.

Ian Rowe, who teaches maths at the school and is also a Sustrans Bike It ambassador, said: "We have worked hard to increase the number of pupils who cycle to school and are pleased that so many do so regularly.

"It is great seeing children outside in the fresh air enjoying themselves and doing exercise."

Hannah Sims, Sustrans Bike It officer for Reigate and Banstead, said: "For a secondary school to achieve the Gold Award is an incredible accomplishment, and shows that it is possible to change attitudes and habits.

"Thanks to the dedication of Ian and the students, a culture of cycling has been embedded within the school and this will continue to have a positive impact on the students and wider community."

According to the Sustrans report Going For Gold, a gold standard for schools will be achieved when every school in the UK will:

  • have more than a quarter of pupils regularly cycling to school
  • have a member of staff to champion a cycling culture
  • include cycling in the school curriculum
  • provide covered and secure bike storage
  • help pupils to plan and map the journey to and from school
  • work with their local authority to address safety issues by tackling dangerous junctions and crossings around their school
  • offer National Standard cycle training, bike safety and maintenance
  • involve parents and siblings at whole-school events

Some primary schools have already achieves gold status, including Aldington Primary School.

Head Teacher, Sandra MacCourt said of the initiative: “Consistently high levels of sustainable travel choices made by parents are a proud achievement for our school – making students happier, healthier and more productive.

“We’ve even seen reduced congestion in the surrounding area so our work is benefitting the rest of the community as well.

“We will continue to work to support parents and pupils to cycle, scoot and walk to school safely and responsibly and hope the number of children walking, cycling and scooting to school continues to grow.”

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